|Translation Projects and Studies on Kenji
The following is a list of translation projects we have learned about through email exchanges with visitors to the World of Kenji Miyazawa. If you've run across any interesting projects involved in translating Kenji's works, or of any interesting studies of Kenji, we'd like to hear about them; so please drop us a line.
Mr. Juwhan Liu is a professor of polymer science at Chungnam National University. His first encounter with Kenji's world was through an animated film, Kenji's Spring, which prompted in him a fascination with Kenji and motivated him to start studying Kenji's works.
As his studies advanced, it occurred to Mr. Liu how wonderful it would be to set up a site to present Kenji and his literary world to Korean audiences in their own language. Searching the Web for ideas, he came across the World of Kenji Miyazawa and decided it would be better to translate it into Korean rather than set up a Kenji site on his own from scratch. This led to a proposal to build a site mirroring ours, but translated into Korean; of course, we gladly accepted this proposal, and the resulting collaboration is now in progress.
Ms. Marianne Jones is a English poet. Having previously lived in Japan, she learned to read Japanese partly through reading Kenji's stories. This later moved her to translate "Haru to Shura," a collection of Kenji's poems, into English.
In 1998 Ms. Jones read her translation of Kenji's poems at poetry reading; the audience was overwhelmed, and they wondered why they had never heard of him before. Among the listeners was the editor of a literary magazine. Afterward, he telephoned to ask for the three translations she had read; her translation of Kenji's poems are now scheduled to appear in the magazine.
Mr. George Wallace posted a message to our forum to tell us that he was translating "The Great Bear of the Crows" and several other of Kenji's stories into English. We mailed him back to ask which stories he was translating, and recently we have begun to provide his translation on our page.
- A Night in the Oak Grove
Mr. Masahiro Mitsui, a teacher at Muroran's Shimizugaoka High School, sent us mail asking if we knew of an English translation of "Yuki-watari," one of Kenji's stories. In his school, students put on a play in English every year, and he wanted his students to write a script in English for "Yuki-watari" this year; so he was looking for an English translation that they could use as reference. Unfortunately, we were unaware of a translation of this story.
Later, Mr. Mitsui sent us mail to say that he had asked Mr. John Gardner to translate "Yuki-watari" into English, and that the translation would soon be appearing on Mr. Gardner's Website. The following translations are now available at
- Across the Snow (Yuki-watari)
Ms. Masako Ohnuki lives in Los Angels and has translated into English the following stories by Kenji. They were published in the Chicago Review many years ago.
- Chumon no Oi Ryoriten
According to e-mail from Ms. Ohnuki, she has also completed the following as-yet unpublished translations:
- Gingatetsudo no Yoru
Ms. Monnin is a student at Geneva University. She posted a message to our forum saying that she is interested in a Kenji's Bijiterian Taisai and was working on it for her graduation thesis. According to her message, she has already translated it into French.
Mr. Philip Coristine is a writer of children's books. He told us in an e-mail that an encounter with a translation by John Bester of Kenji's stories changed his life: Reading them motivated him to become a writer of children's books. He can now read Japanese and plans to translate some of Kenji's stories and submit them to Canadian publishers in picture-book format.
Mr Jon Holt, who has now returned to the U.S., studied Kenji at Iwate University, where he wrote an article on "Kaze no Matasaburo." Mr. Holt first read "Ame nimo Makezu," which was featured in his Japanese reader at the University of Texas. Reading it, he could "hear" the Japanese rhythm in the poem. When in graduate school at the University of Hawaii, he came across Kenji again. Reading Kenji's poem "Musei Doujoku," he could again "hear" the rhythm of the poem. He felt something strong from those poems and decided Kenji was worth reading even outside of class.
After these experiences, he came to Japan and read Kenji's works while living in Kenji's home country. According to his e-mail, he finds "Kaze no Matasaburo" and "Koiwai Nojo" most beautiful and expressive. Mr. Holt says that the biggest challenge for people who want to introduce Kenji to non-Japanese audiences, is how to carry his beautiful language over into translation. He wants to break through the language barrier to bring the clear and vibrant words of Kenji to the world.