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Articles tagged "Japanese"

Translator Relay: Michael Emmerich

Our "Translator Relay" series features a new interview each month. This month's translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth question. For December's installment, Karen Emmerich passed the baton to her brother, Japanese translator Michael Emmerich, who is an associate professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. He has translated numerous books from Japanese, including most recently Yasushi Inoue's Bullfight, The Hunting...

Spirit Summoning, Part V

Yoko asked my name. Usually I’d stop and think about it, make a point of recalling the name. This time I decided not to. I didn’t think, didn’t search for the name. Didn’t try to respond. I wanted to see what would happen. Yoko grew annoyed as I just sat there. If I kept it up much longer it would kill the atmosphere of the summoning. Just as that thought crossed my mind, my mouth started to move. “Ito,” it said. “Ito? The spirit’s name is...

Spirit Summoning, Part III

My mother’s always been selfish and immature. She could be frustrating and drive me crazy from time to time but even I knew that there’s no such thing as a “perfect parent.” In any case, she always managed to keep her behavior within forgivable limits. I didn’t start to think there was anything really strange about her until last autumn, when funny rumors began to spread through the neighborhood. They started when a neighbor’s cat was found floating in...

The Hole in the Garden, Part III

“Hello?” There was no answer. I put the phone back down. I turned to go back to the kitchen and it rang again. I picked it up, wordlessly this time. Again nothing. As soon as I hung up it rang again. After this happened a few more times I just unplugged the phone. Quiet at last. I took the leftovers from the freezer and put them in the microwave. I didnʼt bother trying to figure out who might have been calling or why. Maybe it was a telemarketer, bitter because I had...

The Hole in the Garden, Part II

The woman showed up exactly one month to the day after the pigʼs arrival. I had just finished cleaning the house and was thinking about feeding the pig before I started waxing the floors when the doorbell rang. The woman on the intercom video screen looked like she was some kind of salesperson. I decided to pretend I wasnʼt home. Then, however, she leaned forward and brought her lips—caked thick with lipstick—up to the microphone. “Iʼm Hanamura, I work...

Japan, One Year Later

On March 11, 2011, the Tōhoku region of northeastern Japan was rocked by a violent earthquake and tsunami that triggered an accident at a nuclear power plant. We mark the anniversary with poems by two Japanese writers, both translated by Jeffrey Angles. In "Do Not Tremble," Sayaka Ohsaki finds the shifting earth "an unruly cradle  / A cruel cradle that lets / Neither adult nor child sleep"; Toshiko Hirata's "Noisy Animal"  declares, "I am an animal that...

Do Not Tremble

It trembles It is trembling again today I did not know that the earth Is an unruly cradle  A cruel cradle that lets Neither adult nor child sleep   It is March, it is spring It should be a gentle season of vernal sleep  When one sleeps so deeply there is no dawn But spring this year Shakes us to keep us From falling asleep   Earth, it is enough For you simply to  Keep spinning happily Leave the trembling To windblown flowers and Laundry hanging in...

The Hole in the Garden, Part I

I stared up at the moon, large and round in the sky, clenching a fistful of pebbles. I donʼt know what time it was. I suppose it must have been around midnight. Just beyond the cinder-block wall all the second-story windows in our neighborʼs house were dark. Just as the windows of our house were dark behind me. I stood in the back garden. I say “garden” but in fact it was nothing more than a narrow strip of dirt separating the rear of the house from the high...

I am I

I know who I am Now I am here I might disappear at any moment But even if I do I am still I The truth is that not being I would be fine too I am to some extent a blade of grass Perhaps to some extent a fish A dully gleaming crystal too Whose name I do not know And of course I am mostly you            Because even after being forgotten I cannot fade away I am a repeating melody Hesitating, I am a faint wave-particle that came...

Director’s Notes on “Sway”

I based my first film on a dream. A dream also inspired my second film, made three years later. Through a gloomy thicket in the shadows of a tree bathed in white light, I witnessed a scene still clearly etched in my mind. A man knelt alone on the edge of a cliff, staring down at the pool of a waterfall far below. A woman had sunk in its depths. I think she had been his friend. As he gazed at the stately waterfall in the mountains, he had whooped and hollered. Suddenly, wantonly, he...

The Last Picture Show

I’d just come up to Tokyo from a Kyushu port town that had a U.S. military base and was living with some friends in a crummy little apartment in a wooden building north of Inokashira Park. These friends had formed a blues band back home and hoped to find success in the big city. I played drums but wasn’t really passionate about carrying on with a blues band from the hinterlands of Kyushu. My main priority had been to get away from my parents, and they’d agreed to send...

Narcissus

I read “On the Conduct of Lord Tadanao” when I was thirteen or fourteen, and though I’ve not had an opportunity to reread it since, I still remember the plot some twenty years later. It’s a strangely poignant tale. A young feudal lord, an excellent swordsman, is in the habit of challenging his retainers to fencing matches. One night, after defeating all comers, he is strolling complacently through the garden when he overhears the following disconcerting words,...

Walking the Keihin Factory Belt with Stuart Dybek

As usual, the boy missed the fly ball that anyone else would have caught with his eyes closed, and it rolled into a thicket of reeds by the river.  The audible sighs of the other kids were like knives in the boy’s back as he trudged after it, reeds wrapping themselves around his shins while he searched for the ball amid the empty cigarette boxes and candy wrappers scattered on the ground. Of course he didn’t find it. It wasn’t like these kids had a bunch of...

Beyond Between: Translation, Ghosts, Metaphors

What is translation? Translation is an English word. Translation is, moreover, a somewhat peculiar English word. Peculiar, I would suggest, because it eludes definition. It is impossible to define because it is a sort of node--a point of intersection. Translation, used in the most ordinary of its many senses, refers to something that takes place, or at least seems to take place, between two languages. The English word "translation" has meaning only because we know there are other...

Inside and Other Short Fiction: Japanese Women on Japanese Women, compiled by Cathy Layne

Inside and Other Short Fiction--Japanese Women by Japanese Women offers a corrective to Western and Japanese stereotypes of Japanese women's sexuality. The stories in this collection are connected by an exploration of women's sexual liberation, and provide a female readership with a sophisticated equivalent to the sexually graphic print media heavily marketed to Japanese men. The women in Inside generally do not conform to traditional gender roles that stress early marriage and...

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