Holiday Wishes

Otoshidama envelopes

Otoshidama envelopes

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

Santa has completed his rounds, and the countdown to New Year has begun! In Japan, children await otoshidama, envelopes of money they can save or spend on wished-for items.

The holiday wish of SCBWI Japan Translation Group is for more children’s books from Japan to appear in English. If we could see any titles published in translation right now, what would they be?

Here are a few ideas we shared on our  listserv.

Classic and Recent Picture Books

Many readers of English love picture books by Mitsumasa Anno, Taro Gomi, and Kyoko Sakai. One listserv member wishes for more translations of books by Shuntaro Tanikawa (b. 1951), a well known poet and translator in Japan, whose works for children earned him a nomination for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Several of Tanikawa’s picture books appear at the J-Lit Center’s website, Books from Japan.

Books from Japan also features author Kimiko Aman (b. 1931), whose picture book Ohajiki no ki (The Girl Playing Tiddlywinks)  depicts a child waiting for her mother and brother during a World War II air raid. Click on the first line of text below the cover at Amazon Japan to enlarge the cover image by illustrator Noriko Ueno.

Another member of our listserv recommends three picture books released in Japan in 2013, all by rising author-illustrators:

Sore nara ii ie arimasu yo (I Have Just the House for You!) by Akifumi Sawano

Sore nara ii ie arimasu yo (I Have Just the House for You!) by Akifumi Sawano

  • Kii no iede (Kii Wants to Run Away) by Yukiko Tanemura, a story of how a young girl reminds her twin of the comforts of home. Browse illustrations at Tanemura’s website.
  • Sore nara ii ie arimasu yo (I Have Just the House for You!) by Akifumi Sawanoa tale of a  boy who loves mess and a cat who finds homes for animals and ghosts. Scroll down in the book’s entry at Ehon Navi, an online Japanese picture book hub, to see a two-page spread.
  • Densetsu no ikimono o sagase! (Find the Legendary Creatures!) by Rokudai Tanaka, a search-and-find book involving fantastic creatures from Japan and abroad. Scroll through Ehon Navi’s interview with  Tanaka to view a two-page spread and images of the artist.

Novels Awaiting Sequels

Topping another listserv member’s (my) wish-list for books to appear in English are sequels to several novels already translated:

Kiki's Delivery Service, translation of first novel in series of six books by Eiko Kadono.

Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, translation by Lynne E. Riggs. This novel is the first in a series of six books in Japanese.

  • Sequels to Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano (YA). Winners of the Batchelder Award and Batchelder Honor for Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., these novels about a female spear-wielder are the first in a long, deservedly best-selling series in Japan. I would love to see more Moribito books in translation.
  • Sequels to Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, translated by Lynne E. Riggs (MG). Kadono’s novel, published in translation by Attick Press with interior illustrations by Akiko Hayashi,  inspired the popular animated film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It begins a series of six books in Japanese, which I would love to see available in English.
  • Sequel to Dragon Sword and Wind Child and Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince by Noriko Ogiwara, translated by Cathy Hirano (YA). These novels are the first two in the Tales of Magatama trilogy, published by VIZ Media’s Haikasoru imprint. Fans await the third novel! For more about the Magatama novels, see an interview with translator Cathy Hirano here on our blog.

As the year draws to a close, we hope that these and many more deserving titles will make their way into English translation. Here’s to books crossing borders in 2014!


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