By Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi, Japan
As March 11 draws near, it’s time to count another year since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. It’s hard to believe it has already been five years.
NHK World/Radio Japan’s The Reading Room is currently featuring two stories for children that relate to the earthquake. The first is “The Cape for Waiting for the Wind” by Sachiko Kashiwaba, and the second is “The Wind Telephone” by Yoko Imoto (and our appreciation goes to the anonymous translators!).
Both stories illustrate the pain of loss in very Japanese ways, but they end with the universal hope that thoughts sent up to the departed have been successfully communicated.
While listening, I was reminded of how Japanese children’s stories can sometimes cross the line of what we might expect young children to understand, but, in a culture where not everyone feels free to talk about their feelings, children’s stories are often a source of comfort to adults. “The Wind Telephone,” especially, prodded that inner child in me who will never quite recover from what happened on March 11, 2011.
Top: Illustration for NHK World/Radio Japan broadcast of Kaze machi misaki (The Cape for Waiting for the Wind) by Sachiko Kashiwaba. Above: Picture book Kaze no denwa (The Wind Telephone), written and illustrated by Yoko Imoto. Click on either image to access the NHK broadcast (20 minutes) and complete copyright information.
By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok
Japan’s national public broadcaster, NHK, has offered folktale translations via website and radio broadcast which are now a book: Once Upon a Time in Japan. This book was translated by Roger Pulvers and Juliet Winters Carpenter, using scripts compiled by the NHK World Radio Japan English Section. A review appears here at BookDragon, a blog of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.
BookDragon’s Japan page also lists other Japanese books in English translation. Well worth a look!
By Juliet Winters Carpenter, Kyoto
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK has a new website that offers translations into multiple languages of three Japanese folktales. (I translated the second folktale, The Tale of the Bamboo-Cutter, into English.)
The translations into other languages—Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese—are all based on the English versions, which announcer Yuko Aotani reads aloud beautifully, with appropriate music and sound effects. The illustrations are great too—and all three stories will eventually be published as picture books.
The website does a terrific job of introducing the Japanese-to-English translators, as well, offering “studio interviews” with profiles, photos, and extended interviews about the translations. What a great idea!
Juliet Winters Carpenter (left) and announcer Yuko Aotani
Aotani and Arthur Binard, the translator of Urashima (or Urashima Taro)
Aotani and Roger Pulvers, the translator of Crackle Mountain