It’s Women in Translation Month! This event, that began in 2014, spans the entirety of August. It brings awareness to the gender imbalance of writers from other languages that are translated into English. But I also saw someone say that it was about translators, editors, reviewers, bloggers, and others who are a part of the gender gap in translation.

 

Translators, especially, are the ones who interpret the writings of other cultures and it’s their words that you read in English. If you’ve ever read about Emily Wilson’s re-translation of The Odyssy or Maisy Hatchard’s re-translation of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi then you can see how a woman’s interpretation of a text can introduce novel approaches to introducing other cultures to the English speaking world. (Especially in novels written by women!)

Which is why I wanted to shed some light on some female translators and their works for Women in Translation Month. Specifically on the amazing female Japanese to English literary translators that are out there. (Update: increased to 11 translators because there are too many!)

(I actually have two groups I want to talk about, the first are Japanese to English literary translators and the next article will be on manga translators. Click here to read it!)

 

The following list of Japanese to English Literary Translators is in no particular order.

 

Ginny Tapley Takemori

Ginny is a British translator living in Japan who has been translating and editing Japanese to English fiction for about 15 years. Her works have been very popular in the West with The Secret of the Blue Glass that was nominated for the Marsh Award and Convenience Store Woman which has gained a lot of buzz this last year.

You can see an interview of her along with Polly Barton by the Japan Foundation, which you can watch here on YouTube.

She is also one of the people behind Strong Women, Soft Power. Lucy North, Allison Markin Powell and Ginny Tapley Takemori; three female Japanese to English literary translators who are pushing to bring awareness to Japanese female writers that have yet to be translated and published in English.

Here are some of her works you should check out:

The Little House by Kyoko Nakajima

The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata 10 Must Read Japanese to English Literary Translators - Women in Translation Month

 

Alison Watts

Alison is an Australian-born translator who has lived in Japan for many, many years. Alison’s translation career began in commercial translation, but after a life-changing illness she decided to focus on what she loved and switched to literary translation in 2016. Her first novel translation was Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa.

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa

Spark by Naoki Matayoshi

The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda

Tao by Aya Goda

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa 10 Must Read Japanese to English Literary Translators - Women in Translation Month

 

Molly Lee

Molly is an American translator whose work mostly covers video game translation, including visual novels, but she also works on a number of light novels (which are young adult novels from Japan). Her experience translating video games dialogue means her novel translations (especially of dialogue) are particularly entertaining.

You can find out more about her views on translation and experience in her Interviews With Localizers.

Ride Your Wave by Masaaki Yuasa, Mika Toyoda, Reiko Yoshida

Kokoro Connect by Sadanatsu Anda

Adachi and Shimamura by Hitoma Iruma

Sexiled: My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out, So I Teamed Up With A Legendary Sorceress! by Ameko Kaeruda

Sexiled 10 Must Read Japanese to English Literary Translators - Women in Translation Month

 

Louise Heal Kawai

Louise is another British translator of literature who also teaches at the prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo. After getting her MA in Translation from Sheffield University in the UK she moved to Texas, USA, then to Yokohama, Japan and has been translating for over 15 years.

I highly recommend this great podcast interview with the podcast In GAD We Trust, where she talks about some of her translation process!

Yakuza Moon: Confessions of a Gangster’s Daughter by Shoko Tendo

Ms Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

A Quiet Place by Seicho Matsumoto

Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama

Ms Ice Sandwich

 

Allison Markin Powell

Allison is a literary translator and editor. Her translations have been nominated for numerous awards including Strange Weather in Tokyo (by Hiromi Kawakami) for the Independence Foreign Fiction Prize, and her translation of The Briefcase (by Hiromi Kawakami) was nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize.

Allison is also a publishing consulted and has noticed that in Japan almost half of the people published across all genres are women, but Japanese female authors only account for about 26% of authors translated into English from Japanese. (See this interview with Asian Books Blog.) This is one reason she’s a part of the Strong Women, Soft Power group along with Lucy North and Ginny Tapley Takemori.

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami

The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami

Parade: A Folktale by Hiromi Kawakami

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

 

Diana Taylor

Diana translates mostly light novels and manga but also writes, edits, and develops games on the side. She began translating light novels in 2017 after a few years working part-time as a freelance translator on a number of different subjects.

You can read more about her work as a translator here in her Interviews With Localizers.

At Night I Become a Monster by Yoru Sumino

I Had That Same Dream Again by Yoru Sumino

Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! by FUNA

At Night I Become a Monster by Yuru Sumino

 

Juliet Winters Carpenter

Juliet is an American translator who has been translating Japanese modern literature for over 40 years. She is also a professor at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto.

Her translation of Secret Rendezvous by Abe Kobo the 1980 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. And her translation of A True Novel by Minae Mizumura won the same award in 2014 and earned numerous other awards including the 2014 Lewis Galantiere Award of the American Translators Association.

There are 39 books that she’s worked on on Goodreads but here are a few of them:

Secret Rendezvous by Abe Kobo

A True Novel by Minae Mizumura

The Great Passage by Shion Miura

Masks by Fumiko Enchi

A True Novel by Minae Mizumura 10 Must Read Japanese to English Literary Translators - Women in Translation Month

 

Polly Barton

Polly is a British translator living in the UK who translates short stories and full-length novels (both fiction and non-fiction). She graduated with an MA in Theory and Practice of Translation from SOAS and worked for Nintendo Europe before moving onto literary translation.

Polly was recently highlighted as one of the translators to watch for on the monkey business blog.

She was also interviewed along with Ginny Tapley Takemori by the Japan Foundation, which you can watch here on YouTube.

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda

Friendship for Grown-ups by Naocola Yamazaki

Mikumari by Misumi Kubo

Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda

 

Lucy North

Lucy is a UK-based translator and editor with a PhD in modern Japanese literature from Harvard University. She lived in Japan for almost 14 years.

She is also, one of the lead drivers behind Strong Women, Soft Power, along with Allison Markin Powell and Ginny Tapley Takemori.

Lucy was interviewed in 2017 for Women in Translation month on Japanese female writers, which you can read the highlights of here. (Sadly the link to the full interview no longer works, but the snippets are really interesting!)

Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami

Toddler-Hunting & Other Stories by Taeko Kono

One Sunny Day by Yuichi Kimura

Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami 10 Must Read Japanese to English Literary Translators - Women in Translation Month

 

Rebecca Copeland

Rebecca is an American Japanese translator and Professor of Japanese Language and Literature at Washington University in St. Louis in the USA.

She is more of an academic and creative writer but her translation of The Goddess Chronicle by Kirino Natsuo won the PEN Translates Award in 2013 and the 2014-15 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature.

Groteque by Kirino Natsuo

The Goddess Chronicle by Kirino Natsuo

Groteque by Kirino Natsuo

 

Deborah Iwabuchi

Deborah is an American translator living in Japan who has been translating for over 30 years! She runs her own company and has worked on a variety of texts, including literary translation, most notably on works by Miyuki Miyabe.

The Devil’s Whisper by Miyuki Miyabe

The Sleeping Dragon by Miyuki Miyabe

Beyond the Blossoming Fields by Jun’ichi Watanabe

Little Keys and the Red Piano by Hideko Ogawa (co-translated with Kazuko Enda)

The Devil’s Whisper by Miyuki Miyabe

 

10 Japanese to English MANGA Professionals – Women in Translation Month

 

10 Must Read Japanese to English Literary Translators – Women in Translation Month