Archive for the ‘Event and Exhibit News’ Category

The Creative Collaboration Behind “Are You An Echo?” and SCBWI Japan Showcase on Feb. 4

are-you-an-echo-cover-1024x855The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

The Creative Collaboration Behind Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko

with author David Jacobson, co-translator Michiko Tsuboi and illustrator Toshikado Hajiri

followed by

SCBWI Japan Showcase of New Works

with authors Michael Currinder, Suzanne Kamata, Trevor Kew, Leza Lowitz and Holly Thompson, author-illustrators Keiko Kasza and Izumi Tanaka, and translator Ginny Tapley Takemori

Date: Saturday, February 4, 2016

Time: Presentation 1-2:30 p.m. | Showcase 2:45-4:30 p.m.

Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Audiovisual Rooms A & B, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (by the United Nations University; map)

RSVP: Reserve by sending an email to japan (at) scbwi.org

Full Details: See the SCBWI Japan event page

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misuzu-kanekoThe Creative Collaboration Behind Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko (1-2:30 p.m.)

Join three of the creators of the stunning picture book published by Chin Music Press about the life and poetry of Misuzu Kaneko. David Jacobson will share about his role in crafting the biographical text and the forming of the book’s creative team. Michiko Tsuboi will address challenges faced in translating the seemingly simple poems of Misuzu Kaneko and her collaborative process with co-translator Sally Ito. Toshikado Hajiri will discuss his research, process, approach and technique in creating the many detailed illustrations for the book. There will be plenty of time for Q&A. Please feel free to bring your pre-purchased books for signing; please note that books will not be available for purchase at this event.

david-jacobson-732x1024David Jacobson is a longtime journalist and writer with a specialty in Japan. He has a BA in East Asian Studies from Yale University and was awarded a Mombusho scholarship to study at Tokyo’s Hitotsubashi University. While a journalist in print and broadcast media, his news articles and TV scripts appeared in the Associated PressThe Washington PostThe Seattle TimesThe Japan Times, and on NHK and CNN. Since joining Chin Music Press in 2008, David has edited or copyedited titles including Yokohama YankeeThe Sun Gods and Why Ghosts AppearAre You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is his first book. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

toshikado-hajiri-868x1024Toshikado Hajiri is a graphic artist and illustrator in Tokushima, Japan. After graduating from Ritsumeikan University in international relations and working at a trading company, in 2009 he decided to pursue his love for painting full-time. His work has appeared in school textbooks, advertisements, calendars, and in 12 children’s picture books. He was awarded 2nd prize in the 2006 International Illustration Competition sponsored by the Japan Illustrators’ Association, and his work was selected for inclusion in the illustrator’s gallery of the 2016 Asia Festival of Children’s Content. Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is his first book for michiko-tsuboi-680x1024international publication. For a gallery of his work, visit hajiritoshikado.com.

Michiko Tsuboi lives in Shiga, Japan. She majored in English literature in Doshisha Women’s College and has studied Canadian literature in Edmonton, Canada. She taught English at a high school and still teaches it at her home. Are You an Echo: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is her first published book of translation.

 

 

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SCBWI Japan Showcase of New Works (2:45-4:30 p.m.)

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Join us for the SCBWI Japan Showcase 2017! SCBWI Japan member authors, illustrators and translators will present their recent or forthcoming children’s and YA books to the public in brief, lively presentations. Authors and illustrators will share excerpts, ideas that inspired the work, creative process, techniques, curriculum tie-ins, related activities, and more. Speed Q&A will follow the presentations.

Michael Currinder grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and ran cross-country and track at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Running Full Tilt is his first novel and is a fusion of his collective experiences as a talented high school runner and his close, yet complicated, relationship with his older autistic sibling. Mike has been an international educator for close to two decades, having lived in China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. He and his wife are now on year nine in Tokyo with their rescue dog, Leo.

Suzanne Kamata is the author of four novels including the award-winning Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible, Screaming Divas, which was named to the ALA Rainbow List, and The Mermaids of Lake Michigan, which was a finalist for the Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize. Her short fiction and poetry for young readers  have appeared in YARN, Ladybug, Cricket, Cicada, and the anthology  Tomo. She serves as Publicity Assistant for SCBWI Japan, and teaches EFL and Creative Writing at Tokushima University. www.suzannekamata.com

Keiko Kasza was born on an island in the Inland Sea of Japan. She moved to the U.S. in 1973 and graduated with a B.A. in graphic arts from California State University at Northridge. Her first picture book was published in 1981 in Japan, and she continued to publish in her native language. The Wolf’s Chicken Stew, a 1987 ALA notable book and the winner of the 1989 Kentucky Bluegrass Award, was her first work published in the U.S. She has now published 21 picture books. Keiko Kasza currently lives in Tokyo, but she is planning to return to her home in the U.S. in a few years. www.keikokasza.com

Trevor Kew hails from the small mountain town of Rossland, BC, in Canada. He is the author of six children’s novels including Trading GoalsPlaying Favourites, and Run for Your Life, which was published in January 2017. He also contributed a story to the young adult anthology Tomo in 2012. Trevor teaches MYP and IBDP English at Yokohama International School. He is fast closing in on his first decade of living in Japan and definitely will write about Japan one day. http://trevorkew.com

Leza Lowitz is a poet, fiction writer and memoirist. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, Shambhala Sun and others. She has published over 20 books, including Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By, Jet Black and the Ninja Wind (Winner of the APALA Award), her memoir Here Comes the Sun, and Up From the Sea, her first verse novel for young adults. Other awards include the PEN Josephine Miles Award, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, NEA and NEH grants, and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the translation of Japanese Literature. She also runs Sun and Moon Yoga studio in Tokyo. www.lezalowitz.com

Ginny Tapley Takemori is a British translator based in rural Ibaraki, Japan, who has translated fiction by more than a dozen early modern and contemporary Japanese writers. She studied Japanese at the universities of SOAS (London) and Waseda (Tokyo) and earned her MA in Advanced Japanese Studies from The University of Sheffield. Two of her translations for young people are published by Pushkin Children’s Books: The Whale That Fell In Love With a Submarine, a short story collection by Akiyuki Nosaka, and The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui.

Izumi Tanaka was born in Kumamoto and grew up in Nagasaki. She loved to walk in the mountains during her childhood and still does now. After studying Japanese traditional gouache painting for several years, she began writing picture books. In 2005, she self-published her first picture book No no Hana no yōni (Like Wildflowers), a story set in Mongolia. In March 2017, her second book, Mame-chan no Bōken (Mame-chan’s Adventure) will be released as an e-book. http://izumi-picturebooks.jimdo.com

Holly Thompson is a longtime resident of Japan and author of the verse novels Falling into the Dragon’s Mouth, The Language Inside and Orchards; picture books The Wakame Gatherers and the forthcoming Twilight Chant; the novel Ash; and other works. A graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program, she writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction for children, teens, and adults, and teaches creative writing in Japan, the U.S., and places in between. www.hatbooks.com

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SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016 in Yokohama

scbwi-logoBy Wendy Uchimura, Yokohama

October 22 saw two dozen translators gather in Yokohama for SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016. Sessions were held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., covering a variety of topics and all in a lovely convivial atmosphere.

The day began with a pre-recorded Skype interview with publisher Julia Marshall (Gecko Press) that gave everyone a great peek into the world of a children’s publisher. We learned some of the ins-and-outs of how the translated version of a book comes into print and heard some important tips on how to approach publishers with our ideas for works to translate.

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Julia Marshall speaks by Skype from Wellington, New Zealand, with Avery Fischer Udagawa.

SCBWI International Translator Coordinator and Japan Translator Coordinator, Avery Fischer Udagawa, then spoke about SCBWI and SWET and gave all the participants the chance to share information on their current projects.

Following right on, renowned translator Zack Davisson joined the group via Skype and was interviewed by Batchelder Award-winning translator Alexander O. Smith. After answering questions from the room, Zack and Alex engaged in a mini translation joust. Their challenge was to translate several sections from the manga How Are You? by Miki Yamamoto, with the extra added pressure that the artist herself was in the room! Given the caliber of both translators, it was no surprise that the result was a draw.

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Zack Davisson, via Skype from Seattle, and Alexander O. Smith pose with manga artist Miki Yamamoto.

The last session of the morning featured translator Ginny Tapley Takemori, who talked about how she got into the craft and her work on The Whale That Fell in Love with a Submarine by Akiyuki Nosaka and The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui, the latter of which has been shortlisted for the 2017 Marsh Award.

 

 

After a delicious, healthy lunch and lots of chatting, Yumiko Sakuma gave a talk in Japanese about recent trends in Japanese children’s and YA publishing, where the number of new publications is high. Ms. Sakuma focused on 3 themes of high interest in Japanese children’s/YA literature: the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and related Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster; bukatsu, or after-school clubs; and stories of war and peace. Ms. Sakuma recommended a number of titles in these areas and also encouraged us to check out children’s books that have been selected for awards, including the Sankei Juvenile Literature Publishing Culture Award, Noma Children’s Literature Prize and the Japan Picture Book Award.

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Yumika Sakuma introduces a picture book by Kazu Sashida about the 2011 tsunami.

The final session of the day was an opportunity to have Ginny critique our previously-submitted translations of selected excerpts (anonymously, of course!). It is rare to receive feedback on our work, and it was interesting to see how everyone had approached the texts: The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui and Graveyard of the Fireflies by Akiyuki Nosaka.

As always, this event was a valuable opportunity to meet with others involved in the translation of children’s literature, learn more about activities in the field—from the perspectives of both publishers and translators—and get ideas about how to improve our work.

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Participants in Translation Day 2016 at the end of the morning. The slide shows works by Akiyuki Nosaka and Tomiko Inui, both translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.

 

Announcing SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016!

Grave of the Fireflies by Akiyuki Nosaka, to be discussed in workshop by Ginny Tapley Takemori at Translation Day 2016

Grave of the Fireflies by Akiyuki Nosaka, to be discussed in workshop by Ginny Tapley Takemori at SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016: Japanese Children’s Literature in English

A day of presentations, critiques, and conversation for published and pre-published translators of Japanese children’s/YA literature into English, including prose literature and manga.

Date: Saturday, October 22, 2016 

Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Sessions 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Place: Yokohama International School, Yokohama, 2F Pauli Bldg

Fee: Advance registration 3,500 yen for current SCBWI or SWET members; 5,000 yen for nonmembers. At the door 4,500 yen for current SCBWI or SWET members; 6,000 yen for nonmembers.

Advance registrations and translations of texts for workshop with Ginny Tapley Takemori (see below) due by Friday, October 7, 2016. 

Registration:  To reserve your place and request workshop texts, send an e-mail to japan (at) scbwi.org

This event will be in English, with one session in Japanese.

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SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016 Schedule

8:30 Registration | 8:50 Opening Remarks

9:00-9:30 Julia Marshall: How to Publish “Curiously Good Books From Around the World”

The founder of Gecko Press and a translator in her own right, Julia Marshall publishes world literature for children in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. Marshall describes how Gecko Press works and its recent Japan titles, such as Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, translated by Cathy Hirano. (Pre-recorded Skype interview.)

9:30-10:00 Avery Fischer Udagawa: SWET, SCBWI, Submission Opportunities and Speed Share

As SCBWI International Translator Coordinator and Japan Translator Coordinator, and a longtime SWETer, Avery Fischer Udagawa shares about SCBWI and SWET and leads participants in a “speed share” of their current projects. She also shares about submission opportunities for participants in Translation Day, from interested publishers.

10:00-10:45 Zack Davisson: Convergence and Divergence in Prose and Manga Translation

As translator of The Secret Biwa Music that Caused the Yurei to Lament by Isseki Sanjin and the two manga seriesand Showa: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki, Zack Davisson discusses his craft and engages in a mini-joust with Batchelder Award-winning translator Alexander O. Smith. (Via Skype.)

11:00-12:00 Ginny Tapley Takemori: Historical Fiction for Middle Grade and Young Adult Readers

As translator of The Whale That Fell in Love with a Submarine by Akiyuki Nosaka and The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui, Ginny Tapley Takemori has delved into Japanese narratives of World War II and delivered them movingly to young English-language readers of the 21st-century. She shares gleanings from her journey.

Lunch—Bring a lunch, and “talk shop” with fellow translators in the event room or nearby Minato-no-Mieru Oka Park.

1:30-2:15 Yumiko Sakuma: Japanese Children’s and YA Publishing, Present and Future

As a critic, editor, professor and translator of more than 200 books for the Japanese children’s market, Yumiko Sakuma knows the industry inside-out. Here she gives an overview of Japanese children’s/YA publishing since World War II, a look at recent trends, and information on how to scout out promising new titles. (In Japanese.)

2:30-4:00 Ginny Tapley Takemori: Translation Workshop

Ginny Tapley Takemori critiques participants’ translations of selected excerpts from literature for young adults. The excerpts will include text from Grave of the Fireflies by Akiyuki Nosaka.

Translation Day participants must submit their translations of the selected text for this workshop by October 7, 2016. To request the text and register for Translation Day, send an e-mail to japan (at) scbwi.org

4:00-4:30 Discussion/Q & A and Closing Comments

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SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016 Speakers

Ginny Tapley Takemori is a British translator based in rural Ibaraki Prefecture, who has translated fiction by more than a dozen early modern and contemporary Japanese writers. She studied Japanese at the universities of SOAS (London) and Waseda (Tokyo) and earned her MA in Advanced Japanese Studies from The University of Sheffield. She has translated the middle grade historical novel The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui, and the young adult short story collection The Whale That Fell In Love With a Submarine by Akiyuki Nosaka. She has another children’s project in the works. Her book translations for adults include The Isle of South Kamui and Other Stories by Kyotaro Nishimura and Puppet Master by Miyuki Miyabe, as well as From the Fatherland, With Love by Ryu Murakami, co-translated with Ralph McCarthy and Charles De Wolf. Her fiction translations have appeared in Granta, Words Without Borders, and a number of anthologies. She has also translated non-fiction books about Japanese art, theater, and history, and worked as an editor of translated fiction, nonfiction, and illustrated books at Kodansha International. Earlier on, she worked in Spain as a foreign rights literary agent and freelance translator from Spanish and Catalan. She describes some of her children’s/YA work here: https://ihatov.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/an-interview-with-ginny-tapley-takemori

Zack Davisson grew up in Spokane, Washington, and did freelance writing for a JET newsletter and expat magazines in Japan, before earning his MA in Advanced Japanese Studies from The University of Sheffield. He rewrote his thesis as the book Yurei: The Japanese Ghost, and subsequently translated a novella from classical Japanese: The Secret Biwa Music that Caused the Yurei to Lament by Isseki Sanjin. He has since translated the landmark manga series Showa: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki and is at work on a seven-volume series of Mizuki’s classic yokai comic Kitaro. The Birth of Kitaro, published in May 2016, and Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon, forthcoming in October 2016, are the first volumes in this collection. Davisson has collaborated with Mark Morse on an original comic, Narrow Road, and has written a much-commented-upon translation essay: www.tcj.com/confessions-of-a-manga-translator. He describes his career path and publications here: https://ihatov.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/an-interview-with-translator-zack-davisson

Yumiko Sakuma was born in Tokyo and worked as an interpreter and in-house editor before becoming a freelance editor, translator, critic, and professor of Japanese children’s literature. She has translated more than 200 children’s books into Japanese, and her work has garnered many awards, including the Sankei Juvenile Literature Publishing Culture Award. She also researches African literature and runs a project promoting African children’s books in Japan. Her blog and website provide valuable information about Japanese children’s titles: http://baobab.way-nifty.com/blog/ and http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/baobab-star/. Her essay “What Exactly Is Translation?” is available in an English translation by Deborah Iwabuchi: www.swet.jp/articles/article/pianyan_little_keys_and_yumiko_sakuma_2/_C30

Julia Marshall grew up on a farm in Marton, New Zealand, and worked in Sweden for 12 years at a Swedish publisher of multi-language company magazines and web communications. She then returned to New Zealand (Wellington) to set up Gecko Press in 2004. Gecko Press “translates and publishes award-winning, curiously good children’s books from around the world [specializing] in English versions of award-winning children’s books by internationally well-established authors and illustrators.” Titles from Japan include The Bear and the Wildcat by Kazumi Yumoto, illustrated by Komako Sakai; Hannah’s Night by Komako Sakai; and Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, illustrated by Jun Takabatake; all translated by Cathy Hirano. www.geckopress.co.nz

Alexander O. Smith is the founder of Kajiya Productions Inc., co-founder of Bento Books Inc., and based in Kamakura. His translation of the YA fantasy novel Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe earned the Batchelder Award in 2008. He translated the parable in verse “Wings on the Wind” by Yuichi Kimura for Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. www.bentobooks.com

Avery Fischer Udagawa lives near Bangkok. Her translations include the middle grade historical novel J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965 by Shogo Oketani and the story “House of Trust” by Sachiko Kashiwaba in Tomo: Friendship through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. She serves as SCBWI International Translator Coordinator and SCBWI Japan Translator Coordinator. www.averyfischerudagawa.com

japan.scbwi.org

ihatov.wordpress.com

AFCC 2016 (Part 3): Slideshow Afterglow

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

Last month I thoroughly enjoyed Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2016, where Japan was the Country of Focus. While physically present in Singapore’s National Library Building, I spent three days immersed in presentations about Japan. This post contains slides from several.

Early on I spoke about 31 Japanese children’s books available in English translation—from folktales to fantasy, and from picture books to edgy YA. Click for the full slideshow (an 18 MB download).

J Children's Books in E by Avery Fischer Udagawa AFCC 2016

Or here is a PDF list of Japanese children’s books in English translation, recommended for the AFCC 2016 Festival Bookstore (118 KB). We passed many of these around in my session thanks to a generous loan from Denise Tan of Closetful of Books. Thank you, Denise!

One of the leading translators of Japanese children’s books into English is the amazing Cathy Hirano. Her AFCC 2016 talk “On Translation” featured this humorous slide, which is a literal translation of a page from a Japanese picture book.

Yoda slide by Cathy Hirano AFCC 2016

To read how Cathy handled this text in her final draft, watch for Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, illustrated by Jun Takabatake, due out in August 2016 from Gecko Press.

A picture book you might already have seen from Japan is this one, published by Kaisei-sha.

The Tiny King slide by Akiko Beppu AFCC 2016

The Tiny King appeared in a presentation by editor Akiko Beppu, who spoke of how some illustrators in Japan—including Taro Miura—are making picture books with striking two-page spreads, and working in a style with international appeal.

Yumiko Sakuma, a translator and critic, spoke of Japanese middle grade and YA novels about afterschool activities (bukatsu)—some of which are unusual, such as archery and metalworking. This slide of hers shows two novels by Mito Mahara, published by Kodansha.

Afterschool activity bks slide by Yumiko Sakuma AFCC 2016

Ms. Sakuma presented the history of Japanese children’s literature since World War II as well as recent trends and needs. Her figures showed Japan is publishing as many as 5,000 new children’s titles per year; 4,381 in 2015, of which 16.1 percent were translations from abroad (in the U.S., this figure is around 2 percent).

Miki Yakamoto, a manga artist and assistant professor at Tsukuba University, gave a thorough overview of manga in Japan, explaining that for years major works have begun as serials in manga magazines. This was the case with her own work Sunny Sunny Ann! in the magazine Morning:

Manga magazine slide by Miki Yamamoto AFCC 2016

Ms. Yakamoto pointed out that manga is evolving due to new technology, but right now manga magazines and books make up just under 40 percent of all printed matter published in Japan.

One of my favorite sessions of the conference was Kazuo Iwamura’s; I learned that his Family of Fourteen books, featuring a family of mice in a forest, ring true because Iwamura himself grew up in woods. “The woods were my playground,” he told us.

The Family of Fourteen books AFCC 2016The above set is translated into English by Arthur Binard, published by Doshinsha.

How much children’s literature from Japan and Asia is represented in the English-reading world? I spoke about this in my other solo presentation, “Understanding the Business of Translation.” Click to download (4 MB).Cathy Hirano and Nahoko Uehashi slide by Avery Fischer Udagawa AFCC 2016

My thanks to those who gave permission to use slides above. Any errors herein are mine alone. Much gratitude to the National Book Development Council of Singapore, to Asian Festival of Children’s Content, and to this year’s Japan: Country of Focus team. Kanpai, AFCC!

Talking Translation Over Coffee in Ofuna

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

On June 11, 2016, several SCBWI Japan Translation Group members and friends met for coffee in Ofuna Station, Kamakura. We forgot to take a photo until one participant had left, but here we are!

Meet-up 11 Jun 16

From left, Alexander O. Smith, Holly Thompson, Avery Fischer Udagawa, Geraldine Harcourt, Emily Balistrieri, and Wendy Uchimura. Not pictured: Andrew Wong. Photo courtesy Alex Smith.

Topics of discussion included publishers for new translation projects; strategies to keep out-of-print titles alive; and Japan’s MG/YA novels about unique afterschool activities, such as broadcasting club, diving, gardening, flying, and tanka poetry. We want to translate these books!

AFCC 2016 (Part 2): A Harvest of Knowledge About Japanese Children’s Content

At Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2016 in Singapore, Japan featured as Country of Focus. Offerings included a Japan Booth and Japan-related sessions over three days of the conference.

By Andrew Wong, Tokyo

IMAG2588_1Helping out at the Japan Booth and attending some sessions on the final day of the Country of Focus: Japan program at AFCC 2016 was enough for me to gain a harvest of knowledge on Japanese children’s content. I can only imagine how much more I could have learned from a full three days. Here are some quick impressions from the sidelines.

Right: AFCC Country of Focus poster with illustration by Chihiro Iwasaki. Photo by Andrew Wong.

The Japan Booth treated passersby to a selection of some 200 books. Drawn by the cover illustrations and exhibition panels, the curious stepped in to pick up the books. Some pored over them quietly, taking in the colors and stories in the pictures; others opened up to chat about writers, artists, and their own stories of Japan. Between sessions, Kazuo Iwamura’s and Chihiro Iwasaki’s works would sometimes create overcrowding in part of the booth. Many visitors were ready to take the books home with them after they had taken a look, even though they did not read much Japanese. (Singapore library users will be happy to hear that the books in the booth will soon inaugurate a brand new Japanese-language collection.)

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Books and panel on display at the Japan Booth. Photo by Naomi Kojima.

Naomi Kojima offered a popular hour-long session on Japanese picture books. She almost ran a half-marathon, racing through more than a dozen picture books in a room packed to the wall with eager listeners. Giggles and laughter accompanied her commentaries on Noboru Baba’s Ju-ippiki no neko (Eleven Cats) and Aju Kato’s Jicchorin no aruku michi (The Jicchorins Take a Walk) as everyone joined her in admiring the titles.

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Table covered with books toured by Naomi Kojima in just one hour. Photo by Holly Thompson.

Besides books, multi-talented musicians Toshihiko Shinzawa and Satoko Yamano charmed listeners with songs written for children and adults alike, and they demonstrated how adding music to picture books and vice versa can create new ways to enjoy both media. The International Library of Children’s Literature‘s Chihoko Tanaka captivated children and parents with lively performances of Japanese rhymes and folk tales, while award-winning manga artist Miki Yamamoto helped visitors create their very own folded peek-a-boo cards.

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Miki Yamamoto (upper right) helps visitors create peek-a-boo cards. Photo by Naomi Kojima.

This year’s focus on Japan coincided with the 50th anniversary of Singapore-Japan diplomatic ties, and a new chapter in literary collaboration began with an underwater launch of bilingual books (more on this here) as stingrays looked on in the Sentosa aquarium.

Festival participants got to hear Akiko Beppu, editorial director at Kaisei-sha, liken the work of an editor to that of content producer, linking author and reader and envisioning each book in the store from the start. Doshinsha’s chairperson Kyoko Sakai was on hand to share the techniques and psychology behind kamishibai, a form of storytelling theatre that uses large picture cards in a wooden stage. She made a brief but serious mention of kamishibai’s appeal and its sad history of use in wartime propaganda, and said she wanted the tradition to be used for peace and harmony.

Kamishibai stage (Doshinsha.co.jp)

Kamishibai stage. Image by Doshinsha.

Ms. Sakai’s message drew parallels with Yumiko Sakuma‘s remarks in her closing session: some authors in Japan now are working to bring up topics of war and peace in children’s books, because the country’s pacifist constitution is under threat. Ms. Sakuma also highlighted two other trends in Japanese children’s literature: a focus on unconventional relationships and less-common afterschool activities, and stories about the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. She ended by stressing the need for even greater diversity in content for children in Japan.

Covering the recent changes and challenges in Japanese children’s books, Ms. Sakuma’s words proved a thoughtful closer. Like the other sessions, her speech offered hints of the hopes and dreams that we want children to cherish and chase―to help them on their way to shaping the future.

Moribito Giveaway at Cynsations!

IMG_1917Members of SCBWI Japan Translation Group have published an interview with translator Cathy Hirano at Cynsations, the children’s literature blog.

The interview includes a giveaway (open to entrants worldwide) of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano.

This title won the 2009 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for publisher Arthur A. Levine Books, and Uehashi later won the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing. The hardback version of Moribito is now a collector’s item. Four more days to enter!

Cathy Hirano and Cynsations‘ own Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak at Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), 25-29 May 2016.