Posts Tagged ‘Holly Thompson’

The Easy Life in Kamusari and Kamusari Tales Told at Night: A Conversation with Translator Juliet Winters Carpenter

By Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi, Japan

Juliet Winters Carpenter is well-known for her brilliant translations, and despite her “retirement” to Whidbey Island in the state of Washington, is apparently as busy and productive as ever. Fortunately for this blog, two of her latest books happened to fall into the young adult category, and she kindly agreed to be interviewed. The two books in the title here are also known as the Forest Series, Books 1 and 2. The back matter of the original Japanese version of Tales Told at Night included this snappy synopsis of The Easy Life in Kamusari that definitely serves for both:

A popular title portraying a laid-back youth in the forestry business!

Yuki is 18. After high school graduation, he plans to make a dubious living hopping from one part-time job to the next. But for some reason, he ends up in Mie Prefecture in the forestry industry. He’s out in the mountains without cell phone service! There’s nothing there but hills and dales! Can Yuki make himself into a forester? Pandemonium breaks out on every page of this story about Yuki and the unique people he lives with. (Tokuma Shoten)

Deborah: Juliet, this makes three books you’ve translated for Shion Miura. Can you tell us how you came to translate her books? Have you had any personal contact with her? Did you communicate with her as you did the translation?

Juliet: I came to translate Shion Miura because her novel The Great Passage was featured by JLPP, the Japanese Literature Publishing Project. I was asked to translate the first chapter as a sample for publishers, and a couple of years later, Amazon Crossing picked it up and asked me to do the whole book.

Shortly after the translation came out, just five years ago this month, I had the pleasure of doing a taidan or public discussion with Miura at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts, before a packed auditorium.

Poster for the event with Shion Miura and Juliet Winters Carpenter

She was fun and smart and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. That is the only time we ever met in person. While working on Passage, I never did consult with her directly, but the editor and I communicated with her via her agent, mostly about big overall questions like how to present the crazy love letter at the end and whether to include an explanation of the ancient Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, which is alluded to so often in the book (in the end, at Miura’s request, I didn’t explain it). All other translation matters I handled myself. For the Forest Series, too, I worked on my own and didn’t consult Miura except to make sure I was reading people’s names correctly.

Deborah: Have you done books in the YA category before?

Juliet: I guess A Cappella by Mariko Koike (Thames River Press, 2013) could count as a YA book. It’s the story of a woman looking back on a major romance that ended tragically in her high school days, set against the backdrop of the counterculture student movement of the sixties. While that book captures “intense, heartbreaking love in adolescence,” as the blurb states, the Forest books are much lighter, more humorous and optimistic in outlook. I also translated “Fleecy Clouds,” a short love story by Arie Nashiya, for Tomo: Friendship through Fiction–An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories, edited by Holly Thompson (Stone Bridge Press, 2012). Both the Koike book and the Nashiya short story feature teenage girls, so having a male narrator in the Forest series was a fun change.

Deborah: As soon as I started reading The Easy Life, I was impressed by a couple of things. One was that you use Japanese words such as naa-naa, which was in the original title, and others, such as kappa and the totally inexplainable shirikodama—which you neatly described in a few words following. The other was the way Yuki spoke. You used a lot of colloquial American English in his narration, and it worked perfectly to express the 18-year-old cluelessness of the main character. This kept up all the way to the end of the second book. Yuki never got remarkably adult in the way he wrote, and the effect was hilarious. Did the way Miura write it transfer directly into your translation, or did you go about it in a particular way? What else did you have to keep in mind when the things that Yuki was narrating became more complicated—like all that information on forestry?

The turnout at the event

Juliet: Dialect plays a huge role in defining character and place, and it’s always a bit frustrating not to be able to share those differences fully with my readers; often the best you can do is suggest a certain flavor. Naa-naa works because it’s initially unfamiliar to Yuki as well, so we learn along with him what the word means, how it’s used, and what it tells us about his new community. I didn’t stick naa-naa into the translation every place it comes up in the original, of course. As you mentioned, it’s part of the original title, for example, but using it there in English would be mystifying. However, sprinkling the word in at appropriate junctures, as when Yuki utters it for the first time, worked really well, I thought.

Words like kappa (river imp) and shirikodama (the soul-ball located in the anus) are fascinating and help us to share in Yuki’s other observation about the village––that it’s a place where everyone seems to have “stepped out of a folktale.”

One of the things I played with was characters’ names. The narrator’s name is Yuki, “courage.” He eventually comments ironically on his lack of courage, but in English I decided to provide an explanation early on and squeezed in this sentence in the first few pages: “But I never was much for decisive action, even though my name means ‘courage.’” I also added a disclaimer for the name of the five-year-old boy, Santa, on its first mention: “As I eventually found out, ‘Santa’ is written with characters meaning ‘mountain man’; no connection to reindeer and elves.” I felt that Anglophone readers would be surprised at the Christmassy-sounding name, even if Japanese readers were not. (In Japanese, the visual impact of kanji trumps pronunciation, making it unlikely that readers would make any association with Christmas.) I was pleasantly surprised to find that much later, at the end of Book 2, they actually throw a Christmas party to please little Santa, and he even gets a letter from Santa Claus commenting on the similarity in their names!

I took some other name-related liberties. Yuki lives and works with a guy named Yoki, which means “ax”; that is kind of a cool name in English, too, so I toyed briefly with the idea of calling him “Ax,” but ended up keeping the original name despite the similarity to “Yuki.” However, Santa’s mom is “Yuko” in the original, and that was just too much. Again, as kanji trump pronunciation, the three names do not strike Japanese readers as all that similar, but written in the alphabet, they are too close for comfort. Yuko was rechristened “Risa.” I altered a couple of other names as well, hoping to spare the reader confusion.

As for Yuki’s way of speaking, it needed to sound young, urban, and contemporary, as different as possible from the villagers. I knew what I wanted him to sound like, and I enjoyed finding ways to do it. On his first night in Kamusari, he is served the exotic (to him) dish of wild boar stew. At first, I rendered Yuki’s comment literally: “I was eating wild boar stew.” The editor suggested cutting the line as stating the obvious, but I wanted to keep it because it reflects his amazement at his unfamiliar new surroundings. I came up with “I was legit eating wild boar stew,” which adds clarity to the moment and to Yuki’s persona.

For forestry terms, I searched online and read up about forestry all I could. At first, I intended to retain more Japanese technical terms, but since there were English equivalents, I dropped that idea. Forestry is forestry, and using Japanese terms didn’t seem to serve any useful purpose––except for those denoting which way a felled tree will land. The first time he hears them, Yuki has no idea what they mean, so I left those in Japanese and explained later with glosses. The most interesting one was shombentare, for a tree that comes crashing down straight forward. Shomben tareru is the verb “piss,” but I needed something more, so I expanded it to “piss-pants.” Soon after, Old Man Saburo comments to Yuki, “A shombentare will make you piss your pants, no mistake.”

Deborah: The details on forestry, the myths of the gods, and the elaborate customs of the villagers. I felt as though the book could be used as a text on traditional Japanese culture. Yuki was like a foreigner coming to Japan with no idea of how things worked. Then I thought of my Japanese friends in Tokyo who have had so little contact with the traditional side of things here. I’m imagining the Japanese readership learned a lot from these books too. Do you think Miura was writing to educate them on the value of life outside of the big city?

Juliet: I completely agree that Yuki is like a foreigner new to Japan, surprisingly clueless about all things traditional and highly skeptical of references to gods and spirits–until he isn’t. Of course, since many readers of the English edition will in fact be foreigners with no idea of how things work in Japan, that POV came in pretty handy. I am sure that these books do contain revelations for today’s Japanese, who have so little contact with or awareness of life in places like Kamusari. As Miura shows, villages are withering as young people depart, leaving no one to carry on the work of tending forests or growing rice. It’s heartening to see Yuki gradually falling in love not just with Nao but with all aspects of life in Kamusari, surrounded by lush nature, and to see his growing ability to respect and honor village traditions. Miura’s own grandfather was a forester, and perhaps these books are her tribute to him and his way of life.

Deborah: Did you have a favorite character? Were there any scenes that you particularly enjoyed doing?

Juliet: A lot of the characters appeal to me. One I particularly like is Noko, Yoki’s faithful dog. I was tickled by the scene where they restore Noko’s self-respect by staging a show for his benefit, allowing him to play the hero by “saving” Yoki. I love dogs and it was fun translating Noko’s thoughts, like this bit of Eeyore-like moping: Ah, it’s the young master come to call, I see. I’m sorry, but please just leave me alone. The scene adds a refreshing bit of humor, and it deepens Yuki’s––and our––attachment to the people and the place. As Yuki says, “Kamusari village, a place where grown men had in all seriousness just put on a show for the sake of a dog. A place that was growing on me more all the time.”

Deborah: Let’s talk about that festival at the end of The Easy Life. I really felt like Book 1 was a man’s book about men. Yuki worked with Yoki, who fooled around on his wife and could swing from tree to tree in the forest as he cut down trees with one hand tied behind his back, his loyal dog by his side. Then that scene of the big festival on Mt. Kamusari. It was so full of phallic symbols and testosterone, and it went on and on. What were your impressions while translating it?

Juliet: The festival at the end of Book I––whee! It’s pretty wild all right. And yes, unabashedly phallic. There actually are festivals that involve riding logs down a steep mountainside, going way back, so this is not just Miura letting her imagination run away with her. The ongoing Onbashira Festival is said to date back 1200 years to Heian times. [Note from Deborah: Go to the Onbashira Festival link and scroll down the photos. This is what we’re talking about here!] Miura ties many strands in the novel together in the exciting finale as goddesses hover over our hero and others, protecting them from disaster (lives are regularly lost in the Onbashira Festival). Yoki yields his position as medo––one supposedly having the right to sleep with a village girl of his choice––to Yuki, who has proved himself brilliantly. Cheered on by his teammates and surrogate family, Yuki uses his newly acquired status to work up the nerve to… ask Nao on a date. She agrees, but tells him not to get any funny ideas. So after all the high-flying shows of masculinity, it comes down to a simple, respectful request from a boy in love, and a cautious “yes” from a young woman still weighing her options, and still nursing a love of her own.

Deborah: Tales Told At Night is somewhat less about forestry and men, and more about the myths and practical applications of the mountain gods. Granny Shige comes to the fore with her computer skills, storytelling, and problem solving. Yoki’s wife Miho has tasks other than throwing crockery at her husband and making lunches. Nao, Yuki’s love interest, is a woman with a mind of her own. Any thoughts on the shift between the two books?

Juliet: Tales Told at Night carries on from there, giving us a deeper look at Nao, Miho, and Granny Shige, as you say, but not only them; we also get Old Man Saburo’s backstory, not to mention Yoki’s. We even learn more about odd Mr. Yamane. In general, the characters are deepened and the ties between them become stronger. I loved the midnight scene between Yuki and Yoki on the mountainside. Yoki tells about the tragic accident that killed so many villagers, including his own parents, and shares his regrets, while Yoki shares his fears about not really belonging, not having a tie to Kamusari as indelible as that of native villagers. It’s moving to see this pair of manly men open up to each other, reveal their frailties and vulnerabilities. Miura deftly rounds out her characters and makes them human, relatable.

That said, of the remaining characters, several remain less well defined. We do learn where Iwao lives and that he doesn’t like tomatoes, so I guess that’s something, but his poor wife doesn’t even have a name. Risa, meanwhile, remains a model wife and mother. I confess I wonder why she doesn’t have more children, since Santa’s only playmate in the village is Yuki, and depopulation is such a dire problem. She and Seiichi are well off, and they live in that big house. Anyway, it never comes up. Yoki and his wife are childless. In the movie version, Wood Job, they are trying to conceive without success. Somehow the overabundance of testosterone in the story doesn’t seem to be producing results!

Poster for the movie based on Book 1

Book 2 also shows Yuki’s progress in accepting village beliefs. When he hears about the deadly accident, he immediately says a quick, non-ironic prayer of thanks to the god of Kamusari for allowing Granny Shige to live a long life and watch over Yoki. In fact, there is a complete switch from Book 1. There Yuki was a skeptic who scoffed at the idea of children being spirited away, for example, claiming it was “unscientific.” But in Book 2, once Nao’s missing pen turns up, he becomes convinced that the god Inari can actually work wonders, only to have his teammates scoff and assure him it was just a coincidence. Miura turns things around nicely again, however, as Yuki learns that belief in Inari motivates thieves to repent of their actions and unobtrusively return “lost” objects. The old beliefs still have power to do good; the god Inari lives on in people’s hearts. And so despite his disillusionment (“like a kid who found out there’s no Santa Claus,” Yoki teases him), Yuki ends up replacing the worn-out torii at the Inari shrine in token of his gratitude. He has truly adopted village ways.

Deborah: Is there a Book 3 in the works for the Forest Series?

Juliet: There is no Book 3 in the works that I know of, but if one comes along, I am game to translate it!

Deborah: Juliet, you’ve been a translator for so long and your unending list of publications speaks to the fact that writers and publishers want you. I’ve read a number of your books and loved them all. Thinking about it, I feel that maybe your crowning skill is in how close you manage to get to your material and are still able to express it beautifully in English. I definitely get pulled into anything I translate, but then I have to take a step back when I’m finished so I can edit and smarten up the English. Once at an SCBWI translation event, the subject came up of whether to stick to the original text or adjust it to make it easier for an English-speaking readership to understand. You said you usually decided to trust the readers to figure it out—meaning you were true to the original. In my mind, I was screaming, “No! Don’t trust anyone!” but now ten years later, I’m wondering if that might actually be the key. Any thoughts on that?

Juliet: Thanks so much for your kind words. I confess when I translate something, I feel a little like Yuki, writing with potential readers constantly in mind yet half afraid no one will ever read what I write! It’s wonderful to be reminded that there are still real readers like yourself around.

As for your question about trust, I would say you trust not just any reader, but the specific one you have in mind, the one you are writing to and for. That reader won’t be the same with every project, but once you have settled on a reader, yes, you should show some trust! The reader isn’t a dimwit after all.

The translation process you describe is exactly the same as mine. Translation is a constant dance with the original, now drawing close to it, now pirouetting away, now coming back again. An endless dance. Maybe the goal is to hear the same music, dance to the same beat as the author. I take a kind of musical approach to translation in general––perhaps the real fruit of my piano lessons with the formidable Jasna Bjankini from sixth grade through twelfth. She urged her pupils to learn the music on the page so that it was in our bones, and then to express it with what she called “zambo”––an indefinable, elusive quality that gives zest and life to a performance, keeps it from sounding wooden or merely virtuoso. And if the music is in your bones, you won’t go off the rails (a performer’s worst fear).

An aside, my brother Glenn Winters, who also studied with Jasna and won numerous gold medals in piano contests as a child, is now a composer of opera among other things. I reminded him of zambo and he commented modestly, I only occasionally achieved it, though I tried. 😉

I would like to throw in a word of admiration for Brian Nishii, who performs all of Miura’s works so brilliantly for audiobooks. He does a wonderful job! His rendition of The Great Passage won an Earphones Award for fiction. Brian is a masterful narrator and it’s great fun to hear him bring characters and scenes to life. I urge people to give his work a listen.

Narrator of Miura’s audiobooks

Deborah: I listened to Brian Nishii’s versions of both The Great Passage and The Easy Life in Kamusari, too. Both were great reading experiences. I especially enjoyed the chapter about the big Kamusari festival. As Brian read it, I just closed my eyes and watched the scene play out in my mind. I found it even more fun than reading the text. (As of this writing, the audiobook version can be added for a modest price when you download the book on Kindle.)

Juliet, thank you so much for joining us here to share insights on the books and your creative process! I’m looking forward to your next translations.

The title that got Juliet translating Miura’s work

AFCC 2022 (Part 1): Shifting Perceptions

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

The 2022 edition of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content unfolded in hybrid format—partly online, and partly in-person at Singapore’s National Library. I joined in online, and while I dearly missed traveling to the Little Red Dot, I enjoyed seeing several colleagues grace my screen.

From SCBWI Japan Translation Group, Singapore-born Andrew Wong (top right above) spoke about translating the The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out, edited by Yoshimi Kusaba and illustrated by Gaku Nakagawa, in a session on picture book translation. Emily Balistrieri discussed aspects of translating Soul Lanterns by Shaw Kuzki and Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, the latter in a panel on the translation of humor, moderated by Holly Thompson. I spoke about “shifting perceptions” of translations in English-language children’s book publishing, so that more human languages can be preserved and represented. It was a pleasure to do the Q-and-A with moderator and fellow J-E translator Malavika Nataraj.

A benefit of the hybrid format is that ticket holders can view online sessions on-demand for a month. I am beginning to watch this conversation between Eriko Shima and internationally beloved Japanese picture book artist Shinsuke Yoshitake. I hope they will discuss why translators are not (yet!) credited on the covers of English-language editions of Yoshitake’s works. Here is a New York Times piece that came out on this subject (vis-à-vis adult books) just as AFCC ended.

Here’s to shifting perceptions so that many more international authors, illustrators, and translators can be embraced and enjoyed by young readers everywhere!

TOMO Anthology 10th Anniversary

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

“Nothing remained of the coastline or the train. We had no way of knowing what had happened to these lovely people who had fed us seafood so fresh it was still moving on the plate, who handed their own toast and hot coffee to my parents who were struggling through a Japanese-style breakfast.”

—Deborah Iwabuchi, translator, on revisiting an area of Tohoku she had explored with family before the 3/11 disaster

The editor, publisher, and contributors to Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories have shared messages on the 11th anniversary of 3/11 and the 10th anniversary of Tomo’s publication.

Tomo Anthology 10th Anniversary! Words from Contributors

The messages tell where life has taken those who shaped the anthology and its 36 stories. Many have continued connecting with Tohoku and bearing witness to the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Proceeds from the sale of Tomo as an ebook continue to support the recovery efforts.

The “commitment was to create an anthology of short fiction that would help support teens in Tohoku in the challenging years ahead . . . a breathless volunteer sprint.”

—Holly Thompson, editor

“On a personal level, I have been sustained by stories at the worst of times. The Tomo anthology is an example of the best that we as writers and translators can do.”

—Suzanne Kamata, writer

“People who understand each other are inclined to help each other, and I’m sure the Tomo spirit will endure as many Japanese now step up to provide relief and compassion to others in distant lands.”

—Peter Goodman, publisher, Stone Bridge Press

Do have a read of the messages and peruse TomoHere at Ihatov, we welcome suggestions of additional resources for our Children of Tohoku page.

SCBWI Japan Translation Days 2020 on Zoom

By Susan E. Jones, Kobe

The year 2020 has thrown all of our best laid plans awry. Thankfully, SCBWI Japan did not allow that to derail the organization of Translation Day, a biennial event eagerly anticipated by members old and new. The current circumstances meant that the event was held completely online via videoconference. In the capable hands of Translator Coordinator Avery Udagawa who moderated and organized the event along with Holly Thompson, Mariko Nagai, and Naomi Kojima, everything was executed like clockwork.

Unlike past Translation Days, participants enjoyed two half-days instead of one jam-packed day. While this may have been planned to accommodate the time zones of participants from around the world, the result was that participants had time to reflect and digest information between the two days. Holding the event online also meant that it was easy to record and share with participants for a time after the event, and share links and other information concurrently with the presentations and discussions. This format made the event more inclusive than ever with participants and speakers calling in from Japan, the US, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, and the UK.

Editor-publisher Beverly Horowitz

A Conversation with Beverly Horowitz

Day One began with a conversation with Beverly Horowitz, Senior Vice President and Publisher of Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. She shared important information for translators regarding the type of books she looks for when sourcing works in translation. In a nutshell she is looking for “a perfect book in any language.” That is to say, if the book is captivating in one language it will likely be captivating in translation provided it is translated well.

As for the process of new title acquisition, she uses a combination of visiting foreign rights fairs such as the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, accepting pitches from foreign rights agents, and connecting directly with publishers. She said that an important point for translators wanting to pitch a book to an agent or publisher is to first make sure that the English publication rights are available.

When talking about the difficulty of pitching works in translation, she mentioned that in the North American market “a vision of the broader world is not part of everyday life” and this limits the appeal of works in translation. There is certainly the impression that translated works might somehow be perceived as difficult or unrelatable—one reason why translator attribution on the cover may often be missing.

Emily Balistrieri on Translating Kiki’s Delivery Service

Emily Balistrieri was another featured speaker on day one. He gave us a fascinating view of his experience translating Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing winner Eiko Kadono’s Kiki’s Delivery Service (Delacorte Press, 2020).

Translator Emily Balistrieri

Balistrieri described some of the translation challenges this project presented such as the description of how Kiki came up with the name for her delivery service and how that description had to be changed slightly since the name is “Witch’s Delivery Service” in Japanese. And “The Infamous Phone Number” episode in which he made Kiki’s phone number 1-800-KIKI-CAN in the original translation, but had to change course when readers began actually calling that number and reaching—well, not Kiki’s Delivery Service, but an entirely different sort of service. (Moral of the story: localization is not always the best choice.) Translation of special effects, puns, and even poetry added to the hurdles presented and handily cleared in Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Translation Workshop

Capping off day one was a valuable opportunity for children’s book translators: Emily Balistrieri’s critique of participants’ translations of an excerpt from Eiko Kadono’s 『大どろぼうブラブラ氏』. From rookie mistakes to more nuanced observations, it was a great way to compare translations and discuss why some choices were better than others.

Click image to enlarge this spreadsheet Emily Balistrieri prepared for the workshop, which compares different translators’ renderings of a name, a phrase, and a food.

A Conversation with Arthur A. Levine

Day two started off with important insights from industry veteran Arthur A. Levine, founder of children’s book publisher Levine Querido. His own childhood peppered with translated books such as Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Mazel and Shlimazel: or The Milk of a Lioness and Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, he understands and has a deep love for good books no matter where their origin. But it took time to learn how to publish translations well. From finding the perfect source material via a network developed over thirty years, to working with translators and editors, it is a process he has honed throughout his successful career.

Editor-publisher Arthur A. Levine

Levine had some useful observations about how translations are currently received in the Anglophone market. Like Horowitz, he addressed the issue of translator credit. While it is standard to recognize the translator on the title page, it is still not common to find their name on the book cover. One reason, he says, is practical; it is more information for the reader to remember about the book. Another reason is intuitive; readers may pass over a translation for being “difficult” or not something they would choose for pleasure reading.

Finally, Levine shared his own philosophy regarding translated works: “The reader should have as close to the same experience of reading the text as the reader of the original.” Long experience allows him to discover the right translator for a project, and he encouraged translators to “let your passions be your power” when it comes to deciding what to translate and pitch to publishers and agents.

Andrew Wong: Translating The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out

Andrew Wong shared his experience of translating Yoshimi Kusaba’s adaptation of a speech by Uganda President José Mujica in The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out (Enchanted Lion, 2020) for the US market. This project held a significant challenge: the text of Mujica’s original speech was in Spanish, and it was adapted for the children’s book by Kusaba. In other words, Wong’s job was to translate a translation. Translators are well aware of “lost in translation” tropes, but Wong went the extra mile and consulted the original Spanish text to ensure that the book’s message and voice were portrayed clearly and accurately.

Click image to enlarge this slide by Andrew Wong, about the themes in José Musica’s iconic speech.

Wong also faced the problem of biases in the illustrations which were not apparent at first glance. Not only did the publisher successfully lobby the illustrator, Gaku Nakagawa, to make some illustrations more diverse, but that also had a positive impact on the original Japanese publication which began using the new illustrations as well. A translator’s influence on the original work in later editions is certainly not unheard of, and this is an encouraging example.

Panel: Translator Rights from a Range of Perspectives

The final session on day two was an in-the-trenches look at four different paths of Japanese to English translation in the children’s book market. Translators Andrew Wong (The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out, Enchanted Lion, 2020), Holly Thompson (Grow, Grow, Grow Tome Sweet Potatoes and The Puppets Are Back, Miyoshimachi Library, 2020), Avery Udagawa (Temple Alley Summer, Restless Books, 2021), and Deborah Stuhr Iwabuchi (1945←2015: Reflections on Stolen Youth, Koro Color, 2020) each described a recent project from inception through publication. From translator’s rights to projects changing mid-course, their stories showed that there is certainly more than one route to successful children’s literature translation, and their work gives hope to those aspiring to follow their lead.

Clockwise from top left: Andrew Wong, Holly Thompson, Deborah Iwabuchi, Avery Fischer Udagawa

One of the highlights for many people who attend Translation Day is the opportunity to meet other members in “water cooler” moments. In a more organized version of that idea, time was allotted for a Speed Share session in which every participant introduced themselves and their current project in thirty seconds. It was a wonderful way to connect with every participant. Instead of repeating the same session on day two, a special Translator Opportunities session (for participants only) provided a wealth of information about who is currently accepting submissions and proposals—indispensable information for those pursuing publication of their work.

The online format of Translation Day hardly seemed to be a hindrance; in fact, it was directly instrumental in allowing participation from people around the world who otherwise might not have been able to attend. All credit goes to the organizers’ impeccable planning and tireless efforts in achieving a fruitful experience for all.

Announcing SCBWI Japan Translation Days 2020

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

SCBWI Japan Translation Days 2020

Two days of online presentations, workshopping, and conversation for published and pre-published translators of Japanese children’s and young adult literature into English.

Dates: Saturday, November 21, 2020, and Saturday, November 28, 2020

Time: Meeting Room Opens 8:30 a.m. Sessions 9 a.m.-1 p.m. JST

Place: Remote via Zoom

Fee: 3,500 yen for current SCBWI members; 5,000 yen for nonmembers. One fee covers both days.

Translations of text for workshop with Emily Balistrieri due by November 6, 2020. Fee payments due by November 18, 2020.

Registration: To reserve your place and receive event details, send an email to japan (at) scbwi.org

This event will be in English. All dates and times are Japan Standard Time (JST).

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SCBWI Japan Translation Days 2020: Schedule

DAY 1: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2020

8:30 Meeting Room Opens

8:50 Opening Remarks

9:00-9:45 A Conversation with Editor-Publisher Beverly Horowitz

As Senior Vice President and Publisher of Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, Beverly Horowitz played a critical role in publishing Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono and Soul Lanterns by Shaw Kuzki, both translated by Emily Balistrieri, with US releases in July 2020 and March 2021, respectively. She responds live to questions generated in advance, regarding what it takes to publish Japanese children’s books in English translation.

9:45-10:00 Break

10:00-10:15 Speed Share

Participants join a lightly structured “speed share” of their current projects.

10:15-11:00 Emily Balistrieri on Translating Kiki’s Delivery Service

As the latest translator of Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, 2018 winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing (“little Nobel”), Emily Balistrieri shares about the process and issues involved in bringing this iconic work to life in a US edition, now also finding its way to the UK.

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:45 Emily Balistrieri: Translation Workshop

Emily Balistrieri critiques participants’ translations of selected excerpts from『大どろぼうブラブラ氏』, a title by Eiko Kadono as yet unpublished in English.

Participants interested in receiving feedback during this workshop must submit their translations of the workshop text by November 6, 2020. Names will be removed. Participants are not required to submit translations in order to join the workshop. 

12:45-1:00 Closing Remarks for Day 1

 

DAY 2: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2020

8:30 Meeting Room Opens

8:50 Opening Remarks

9:00-9:45 A Conversation with Editor-Publisher Arthur A. Levine

Arthur A. Levine founded Levine Querido in 2019, after a 23-year tenure as the President and Publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. Translations he has published include two Moribito books by 2014 Andersen laureate Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano, which won a Batchelder Award and Honor, respectively. He responds to questions in a pre-recorded interview about what it takes to publish Japanese children’s books in English translation.

9:45-10:00 Break

10:00-10:15 Submission Opportunities

Participants learn about submission opportunities for those who join in this event, from interested publishers.

10:15-11:00 Andrew Wong on Translating The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out

As translator of The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out—an adaptation by Yoshimi Kusaba of a speech by José Mujica, illustrated by Gaku Nakagawa—Andrew Wong shares about the collaborative process of bringing this work to life in a US edition, published in August 2020 by Enchanted Lion.

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:45 Panel: Translator Rights from a Range of Perspectives

Translators’ working conditions impact the flow of Japanese children’s and YA literature into English. What have translators with different lengths of careers, working for different kinds of publishers in different places, on different types of books, experienced as helpful conditions for translating well? How have they learned about their rights and negotiated for what they need? A panel discussion with translators Deborah Iwabuchi, Holly Thompson, Avery Fischer Udagawa, and Andrew Wong.

12:45-1:00 Closing Remarks for Day 2

***********

SCBWI Japan Translation Days 2020: Speakers and Panelists

Emily Balistrieri (he/him) is an American translator based in Tokyo. Emily translated the middle-grade fantasy novel Kiki’s Delivery Service by 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award-winner Eiko Kadono. Other works include The Night is Short, Walk on Girl by Tomihiko Morimi as well as two ongoing light novel series: Kugane Maruyama’s Overlord and Carlo Zen’s The Saga of Tanya the Evil. His translation of Shaw Kuzki’s Soul Lanterns, a middle-grade novel dealing with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, will be released in March. Follow Emily on Twitter: @tiger

Avery Fischer Udagawa (she/her) serves as International and Japan Translator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her translations from Japanese to English include J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965 by Shogo Oketani, “Festival Time” by Ippei Mogami in The Best Asian Short Stories 2018, and “Firstclaw” by Sachiko Kashiwaba at Words Without Borders. Her reviews of children’s literature in translation appeared throughout the inaugural year of the #WorldKidLit Wednesday column, Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, 2019-2020. @Avery Udagawa

Beverly Horowitz (she/her) is SVP & Publisher of Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. Horowitz began her career in Editorial, but to learn all aspects of the publishing business, she held positions as Publicity/Promotions Director, and as Academic Marketing and School & Library Marketing Director in various publishing houses. After gathering this experience early in her career, she returned to her passion for editorial work at Delacorte Press/RHCB. In addition to the administrative aspects of her job, Horowitz has never stopped being an editor. Authors she works with include Louis Sachar, E. Lockhart, Judy Blume, Onjali Q. Raúf, Bryan Stevenson, Rob Buyea, Abdi Nor Iftin, Ruby Bridges, Adeline Yen Mah, as well as debut authors. She also has acquired many novels for translation. Throughout her career, Beverly has been an advocate of First Amendment rights and has fought against censorship.

Deborah (Stuhr) Iwabuchi (she/her) was born and mostly raised in California before moving to Japan right after graduation from University of the Pacific, Callison College. After ten year teaching in Maebashi, she moved into translation where she has happily been ever since. Translations of books for young people include The Sleeping Dragon by Miyuki Miyabe, Rudolf and Ippai Attena by Saito Hiroshi, Love From the Depths by Tomihiro Hoshino, Reflections on Stolen Youth: 1945←2015 compiled by Naomi Kitagawa and Motomi Murata, and an as yet unpublished biography of Ruth Gannett (author of the Elmer books) by Akie Maezawa. minamimuki.com

Arthur A. Levine (he/him) founded Levine Querido in April 2019, after a 23-year tenure as the President and Publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. He founded Arthur A. Levine Books in 1996, coming over from Knopf Books for Young Readers where he had been Editor in Chief. His determination to bring a diverse selection of “The Best of the World’s Literature for Young People” to American readers was the guiding principle in all of AALB’s publishing since its beginnings, and continues to be the guiding light at Levine Querido. This mission resulted in the introduction to North American audiences of the work of great writers such as J. K. Rowling, Markus Zusak, Nahoko Uehashi, Daniella Carmi, Luis Sepúlveda, and Jaclyn Moriarty. Arthur sees this search for great writers from around the world as a continuum with Levine Querido’s search for diverse, powerful, unique voices and visions from the multitude of cultures closer to home. In addition to overseeing the company, Arthur edits between eight and ten books annually.

Holly Thompson (she/her) is author of the novel Ash; three verse novels for young people: Falling into the Dragon’s MouthThe Language Inside, and Orchards—winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature; and picture books One Wave at a TimeTwilight Chant and The Wakame Gatherers. Picture book translator and editor of Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories, a collection of 36 Japan-related short stories including ten in translation, she also writes for magazines on Japan topics. Graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program, she serves as Co-Regional Advisor of SCBWI Japan, and teaches creative writing at Yokohama City University, UC Berkeley Extension, and Grub Street in Boston. www.hatbooks.com

Andrew Wong (he/him) is a Singaporean Chinese living in Tokyo. Weaned on a fare of comics, mystery and adventure stories mixed with kungfu dramas and movies, a stint in Taiwan kindled his interest in Japanese pop culture and language. After studying the language in Scotland and Tokyo, living in Japan with children opened his eyes to the world of Japanese works for children. A translator by trade, he keeps a blog to share stories and contributes to the SCBWI Japan Translation Group blog. Translator of The World’s Poorest President Speaks Out (2020). talesfrom2citiesormore.com

japan.scbwi.org

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Tomo Anthology Supports Kesennuma NPO Sokoage

By Holly Thompson, Kamakura
Editor, Tomo Anthology

March 11, 2020 marked nine years since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and eight years since the Stone Bridge Press publication of Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction–An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. Port cities along the coast are still in the midst of massive reconstruction projects and neighborhood development and revitalization, and this past autumn brought harsh new challenges to recovering areas of Tohoku with damaging typhoons. Typhoon number 19 (Hagibis) in October caused devastating floods resulting in nearly 100 deaths in Tohoku–the majority in Fukushima Prefecture. The Tomo Anthology community helped to spread the call for volunteers to help with inundation clean-up efforts.

As recovery from the 2011 Great East Japan triple disasters and recent typhoons continues, proceeds from sales of the Tomo Anthology still assist programs for teens in Tohoku. In 2019, the Tomo Anthology donated 100,000 JPY to the certified NPO 底上げ Sokoage in the city of Kesennuma in the northeast Miyagi Prefecture.

In October, I traveled up to Tohoku to participate in post-typhoon volunteer flood clean-up work in Miyagi prefecture, and was able to visit Kesennuma to meet with Takafumi Narumiya, one of Sokoage’s four staff members, in Pier 7’s waterfront Square Ship co-working space.

Narumiya-san explained Sokoage’s broad aims to provide opportunities for youth in the area, foster community, cultivate connections across generations, and support camps and programs for college students to engage with their Miyagi Prefecture communities from wherever they may be based.

The Sokoage Facebook page offers a glimpse at these programs and provides a sense of the spirit and dedication of the individuals at the heart of this NPO.

Your purchases of the Tomo Anthology which include 36 Japan stories for teens, including ten in translation, will help us continue to support teen programs in recovering areas of 3/11 impacted communities in Tohoku. Thank you!

May the Tohoku cities and towns hard hit by the 2011 triple disasters continue to utilize their resilience and determination to come together to create vibrant Tohoku communities for generations to come.

Cross-posted from the Tomo blog with permission.

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 in Yokohama

By Emily Balistrieri, Tokyo

SCBWI Japan held Translation Day 2018 on October 20 in Yokohama. The fifth in this biennial series of single-day conferences for translators and translation-lovers alike had a fantastic line-up of speakers with both inspiring and practical wisdom to share.

Kicking off the day was a pre-recorded Skype interview with Takami Nieda whose translation of Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro was published by AmazonCrossing this past March. Go is a great example of a book that while not particularly marketed for teenagers in Japan fits perfectly in the YA category in English. Nieda discussed that as well as how nice it was to work with AmazonCrossing. People unsure about Amazon as a publisher might be interested to know that she found the editors friendly and the editing process rigorous.

For aspiring translators, Nieda recommended attending a short translation program, such as the British Centre for Literary Translation summer school or the Breadloaf Translators’ Conference, and pairing with another translator for peer editing. It also sounded like she would recommend having a day job because it allows you to pick and choose your projects more.

After the participants in the day got to know each other a bit and receive some SCBWI, SWET and submission news, the second session began. In another pre-recorded Skype interview, publisher and managing director of Pushkin Press Adam Freudenheim talked about publishing translations in the UK. People often observe a lack of demand for translations, but he said the key is finding your market. Pushkin’s (and Penguin Random House’s) series of six novellas translated from Japanese—including Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami, which was a centerpiece of this event—has been doing great. Sometimes finding your audience can be tricky, though: Freudenheim shared that the collection of Akiyuki Nosaka stories translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori originally published for children as The Whale that Fell in Love with a Submarine has been doing much better repackaged and expanded for adults as The Cake Tree in the Ruins.

In response to questions about the nuts and bolts of publishing translations, Freudenheim said that it’s easier to publish longer translations or otherwise take risks when there are subsidies or grants available, often from source countries’ governments. If translations can be co-funded by American and UK publishers, that also helps. He noted that it’s possible to be successful approaching Pushkin cold and emphasized sharing your passion for the book when pitching in addition to the whats and the whys.

Before lunch Louise Heal Kawai, translation of Ms. Ice Sandwich among many other books, spoke on the importance of networking, which is how she ended up on that project. She also shared how she localized Mieko Kawakami’s punny nickname for a girl whose fart smells like tea! (Let’s just say that’s what you get when the book’s protagonist is a boy in fourth grade.)

After a sunny lunch break, during which participants could practice her networking advice, Kawai led a translation workshop on an excerpt from the sequel to Ms. Ice Sandwich, Ichigo jamu kara ichigo o hikeba (which can be variously translated as If You Take the Strawberries Out of Strawberry Jam or Strawberry Jam Minus the Strawberries, among other ways) from the volume Akogare (Longing, or Longings or Yearning). Although there were plenty of challenges regarding the Japanese, including the name of a candy bar that was actually fictitious and finding the correct tense, the main exercise turned out to be writing in voice for a sixth-grade girl. Words like “adept,” “disgusted,” and “smitten” were frowned upon, while choices like “super popular,” “stuff like that,” and the exchange “No way,”-“Yes way,” got the nod.

One of the challenges in translating books from Japan, especially for young people, is packaging them for English-language book categories. Author and SCBWI Japan Co-Regional Advisor Holly Thompson led a session explaining some of the most common definitions of middle-grade and young-adult fiction, which can seem strict but do offer room for crossover success. Participants broke into groups for an exercise in classifying novels as MG or YA based on the opening pages. Drugs and sex references were the most obvious markers of YA besides older protagonists, while MG books seemed immediately to contain more family references and simpler vocabulary.

In the last session, Thompson was joined by Japanese Board on Books for Young People president (not to mention prolific translator) Yumiko Sakuma and SCBWI Japan Translator Coordinator Avery Fischer Udagawa in a discussion about Japanese book categories vs. US/UK book categories.

In Japan, the consideration is less about age-appropriate vocabulary than age-appropriate kanji. Then, even if a child is the protagonist, you can simply decide as a marketing strategy that it’s a book for adults if you want adults to read it, too, as happened in the case of Tonneru no Mori 1945 (The Tunnel of Trees 1945) by Eiko Kadono, winner of the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing. Sakuma also explained that to some extent there’s a belief that it’s better not to set ages for books because kids all read at their own pace. Given what people throughout the day noted appears to be a more fluid mindset about especially protagonist age in Japan, it can be a challenge to make English categories fit.

After this nine-to-five Saturday of kidlit translation immersion, surely even the most exhausted of the participants were feeling inspired to get going on some new projects.

 

 

#CantWait for SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018

Translation Day 2018 info with prior Days’ write-ups

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

If you follow Japan kidlit in English online, you may have seen me shout out SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 in Yokohama on October 20—here, say, or here, here, or here. I #cantwait for this event! Here’s why:

  • This will be the fifth biennial SCBWI Japan Translation Day.
  • This will be the fifth time we have welcomed a master translator, of an author relevant to children’s or YA literature, to work with us on craft.
  • This year’s master translator will be Louise Heal Kawai, renderer of Ms. Ice Sandwich by rising literary star Mieko Kawakami. This novella is told in the voice of a fourth grade boy. Louise will tour us through it and workshop another passage from its source volume Akogare (Longing), specifically the story 苺ジャムから苺をひけば. Psst: This story unfolds when the boy from Ms. Ice Sandwich is in sixth grade, and is told in the voice of his female classmate from Ms. Ice Sandwich. It has yet to be published in English. Cool! Or should I say, icy!
  • What else? We will screen not one, but two, prerecorded Skype interviews with luminaries in our field. The first is with Adam Freudenheim, publisher and managing director at Pushkin Press, who has helped launch several landmark Japanese titles in English translation, from The Secret of the Blue Glass to The Beast Player to Ms. Ice Sandwich. Our second interview will be with Takami Nieda, translator of the novel Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro: a searing Romeo-and-Juliet story about a Korean-Japanese teen who falls in love with a Japanese teen. Nieda fell so in love with Go that she made a Twitter account to ask the author to let her translate it—and it worked (eventually)! COOL!
  • Just interviewing Adam and Takami spurred me to send out more work and plunge deeper into my translation and translation advocacy projects.
  • Once I edit my starstruck self out of the interviews a bit, I know they will have the power to inspire others at Translation Day too.
  • Speaking of inspiring, how icy is it that author Holly Thompson has gathered excerpts to share with us in a workshop on age categories in US book publishing? We will get to see if we can identify chapter books, middle grade novels, YA novels, and/or adult books by their innards—and discuss how we think Japanese books slot into the US categories (which also influence the UK and beyond) and vice versa. Is Ms. Ice Sandwich adult or middle grade? Is Go adult or YA? Need there be an or? Hmmmm . . .
  • Speaking of hmmmm, did you know that category differences affect English-language books traveling into Japanese too? JBBY President Yumiko Sakuma—herself the translator of 200 children’s books from English into Japanese, from Flat Stanley to Of Thee I Sing—will be on hand to share stories.
  • Speaking of stories (of stories), grant funding supported the translation of Go and the publication of Ms. Ice Sandwich . . . and pssst, a new grant from SCBWI may be ready to announce on the occasion of Translation Day. This grant has been years in the making. You can find it now if you search SCBWI.org assiduously, OR you can take a hint by removing the H from the name of this cool American dessert product or this ubiquitous Japanese beauty product. Warning: the news may make you dance, or even ice dance.
  • Speaking of dancing, we have a celebration this year, of Japan’s Eiko Kadono winning the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing (aka “little Nobel”)—a feat that required nomination by JBBY, and which surely benefited from the translation by Lynne E. Riggs of Kadono’s iconic Kiki’s Delivery Service. Anyone up for throwing confetti??
  • And speaking of confetti, you will definitely want to throw some when you hear the list—our longest yet—of English-language children’s book editors who are open to receiving submissions from SCBWI Japan Translation Group. This openness does not grow on trees, especially if (like most translators) you are unagented.

So dust off your Rolodex, shred some rough drafts for confetti, buy a copy of Ms. Ice Sandwich to have Louise sign, and bring your dancing shoes . . . because this Translation Day will be chill. Note: You do not need to have submitted a workshop translation to join us for the day. Next note: If you are in SWET, you can enter at SCBWI member price. Next next note: Even the nonmember price is a great deal, thanks to a generous regional grant (grant again!) from SCBWI.

#CantWait to see you at SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018!

 

Announcing SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018

Akogare by Mieko Kawakami, source text for workshop by Louise Heal Kawai at SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018: Japanese Children’s and Young Adult Literature in English

A day of presentations, workshops, and conversation for published and pre-published translators of Japanese children’s and YA literature into English.

Date: Saturday, October 20, 2018

Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Sessions 9:00 a.m. – 4:45 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 Louise Heal Kawai (see below) due by Monday, October 8, 2018.

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.

* * * * * * * * * * *

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 Schedule

8:30 Registration | 8:50 Opening Remarks

9:00-9:45 Takami Nieda: On Translating Kazuki Kaneshiro’s Go

The translator of a searing novel about anti-Korean discrimination in Japan, portrayed through a high school coming-of-age and romance story, discusses the landmark title and her process. (Pre-recorded Skype interview.)

9:45-10:00 Avery Fischer Udagawa: SWET, SCBWI, Submission Opportunities and Speed Share

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 Adam Freudenheim on Publishing Japanese Children’s Lit in the UK

As publisher and managing director at Pushkin Press, Adam Freudenheim has been instrumental to the UK publication of The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy HIrano; The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui and The Whale That Fell In Love with a Submarine by Akiyuki Nosaka, both translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori; and Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Louise Heal Kawai. He discusses the challenges and rewards of releasing these titles in the UK and beyond. (Pre-recorded Skype interview.)

11:00-12:00 Louise Heal Kawai: On Translating Mieko Kawakami’s Ms. Ice Sandwich

As translator of a realistic contemporary novella marketed to adults, but which features a fourth-grade Japanese boy as its hero, Louise Heal Kawai discusses her process and the book’s offerings for middle graders through grown-ups. A time to delve into the book one reviewer calls “a wonderful example of the power of narrative voice.”

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

1:00-2:30 Louise Heal Kawai: Translation Workshop

Louise Heal Kawai critiques participants’ translations of selected excerpts from a portion of Akogare, the book by Mieko Kawakami containing Ms. Ice Sandwich. Meant to follow Ms. Ice Sandwich, this portion is as yet unpublished in English, and foregrounds the voice of the Japanese girl from Ms. Ice Sandwich, who is now in sixth grade.

Translation Day participants must submit their translations of the selected text for this workshop by October 8, 2018. To request the text and register for Translation Day, send an e-mail to japan (at) scbwi.org

2:45-3:15 Holly Thompson: Workshop on US Middle Grade and Young Adult Categories

Publishing translations in the US (and beyond) requires knowledge of the age and marketing categories used in the children’s/teen publishing industry there. Holly Thompson demystifies these categories by sharing excerpts from recently published novels.

3:30-4:15 Panel Discussion: When Japanese Novels Meet US Book Categories

Professionals who market Japanese novels in the US discuss US and Japanese book marketing categories. What can happen when Japanese novels are placed in American-style MG, YA, or adult categories—or handled as category-crossing “crossover” titles?

4:15-4:45 Discussion/Q & A and Closing Comments

* * * * * * * * * * *

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 Speakers and Panelists

Louise Heal Kawai was born in Manchester, England. She worked as a translator and teacher for more than twenty years in Nagoya, Japan, and also spent a short time living in Fort Worth, Texas, before moving to Yokohama. Her published translations include Milk by Tamaki Daido, which appeared in the short story anthology Inside and Other Short Fiction;  Shoko Tendo’s best-selling autobiography Yakuza Moon; a novel by feminist writer and poet Taeko Tomioka called Building Waves; and the novel The Island of Expectation by Ito Ogawa. Kawai translated an excerpt from Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami into Northern English dialect for Words Without Borders, before translating Ms. Ice Sandwich by the same author. In a contrasting vein, she has translated A Quiet Place by crime writer Seicho Matsumoto and the investigative thriller Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, published in 2018. She teaches English at Waseda University, Tokyo. An interview with her about Ms. Ice Sandwich is here.

Takami Nieda was born in New York. She has translated and edited more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction including The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto, Body by Asa Nonami, and The Cage of Zeus by Sayuri Ueda, as well as The Art of Ponyo by Hayao Miyazaki. Her recent translation of Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro has been described as delivering a “witty, sarcastic narrative voice [that] conveys great poignancy.” Her translations have also appeared in Words Without BordersAsymptote, and PEN America. Nieda teaches writing and literature at Seattle Central College in Washington State. She responds to an interview about Go! here.

Adam Freudenheim was born in Baltimore and lived in Germany for a time before moving to the UK in 1997. He served as publisher of Penguin Classics, Modern Classics and Reference from 2004 to 2012 before joining Pushkin Press, where he has launched several imprints, including Pushkin Children’s Books. He has overseen the publication of many acclaimed translations for children, including The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius, translated from Swedish by Peter Graves; The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson; My Sweet Orange Tree by Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos, translated from Brazilian Portuguese by Alison Entrekin; and a number of landmark Japanese titles.

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 her essay “What Exactly Is Translation?”  translated by Deborah Iwabuchi are helpful reading for Japanese-to-English translators. Ms. Sakuma serves as President of the Japanese Board on Books for Young People (JBBY).

Holly Thompson is originally from Massachusetts and lives in Kamakura. Her writings include the picture books One Wave at a TimeTwilight Chant, and The Wakame Gatherers; the middle grade novel Falling into the Dragon’s Mouth; the young adult verse novels Orchards and The Language Inside; and the adult novel Ash. She is venturing into translation. She serves as SCBWI Japan Co-Regional Advisor.

Avery Fischer Udagawa grew up in Kansas and lives near Bangkok. Her translations include the story “Festival Time” by Ippei Mogami in The Best Asian Short Stories 2018, forthcoming from Kitaab, and the middle grade novel Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba, forthcoming from Chin Music Press. She serves as SCBWI International Translator Coordinator and SCBWI Japan Translator Coordinator.

japan.scbwi.org

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Tomo Anthology Update, Six Years After

By Holly Thompson, Kamakura

March 11 marked the sixth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake  (東日本大震災 Higashi Nihon Daishinsai), and the subsequent tsunami that ravaged the Tohoku region’s Pacific coastline followed by the triple meltdown of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Throughout Japan, a moment of silence was held at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, the time the quake struck.

This month also marks five years since the publication of Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. Proceeds from sales of Tomo have for five years been donated to the Japan-based NPO Hope for Tomorrow. Hope for Tomorrow has provided much-needed support to high school students in the form of financial assistance to enable students in the hardest hit areas of Tohoku to take costly university entrance exams. Having succeeded at what they set out to do, Hope for Tomorrow will cease operations at the end of this Japanese academic year (at the end of this month). Thank you to Hope for Tomorrow for providing a unique form of support to high school students in Tohoku during the most difficult years after 3/11.

The Tomo anthology has recently gone out of print, but the book is still available as an ebook in Kindle format. Future proceeds will be donated to other organizations that support youth in the areas of Tohoku still struggling six years after. Please continue to read, give and recommend the Tomo anthologya collection of 36 stories including 10 in translation—so that we may continue to offer our friendship and support to teens in Tohoku.

May we remember that many thousands in Tohoku are still displaced, that reconstruction and the delicate work of rebuilding lives continues, and that many thousands still reside in prefab “temporary” housing in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate—the three hardest hit prefectures.

Here are a few articles to read on this six-year anniversary:

SIX YEARS AFTER: 34,000 People in Tohoku Region Still in Makeshift Housing UnitsAsahi Shimbun, 11 March 2017

Six Years After the 3/11 Disasters, Japan Times editorial, 11 March 2017

A New Shopping Center for a Tsunami-Struck Town, Nippon.com, 11 March 2017

Destroyed by the Tsunami, JR Onagawa Station is RebuiltSpoon & Tamago, 10 March 2017

Six Years On, Fukushima Child Evacuees Face Menace of School Bullies, Reuters, 9 March 2017

This blog post also appears at tomoanthology.blogspot.com.

For a running list of news items about 3/11 and young people, please see Children of Tohoku.