Japanese Book Review: Endless Night – Morimi Tomihiko

(夜行 – 森見 登美彦)

The title of this book could be read Yakou or Yagyou depending on whether it functions as part of the word for night train or part of the word for “The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons” . For my translation of the title into English, I didn’t have a punchy way to make the night train reference and the reference to Japanese folklore simultaneously, so I chose to use a recurring motif in the  book: endless night.

This book doesn’t really fall into the horror genre, but the eerie tone can occasionally  send you into a cold sweat. It is more like a ghost story, or more accurately, a collection of ghost stories.

Five friends gather at a traditional inn near Kyoto on the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of their friend Hasegawa, which occurred on the night of the annual  Kurama Fire Festival. Imagine a night of half-naked men carrying giant torches and portable shrines through a small town that only sees that kind of crowd once a year.

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Japanese Audio Book Review: Scientific Task Force, Case File Blue – Konno Bin

Finding a Japanese audiobook source

Sometimes it’s challenging to find time to read, but it may not be quite as hard to find time to listen to an audiobook. I have wanted to listen to current Japanese novels in audiobook form for years, but in the past I have not been impressed with the selection available.

I would like to listen to current fiction, but most of the fiction available when I first started searching consisted older works from the public domain or offerings that tended towards self-help. Since I couldn’t find anything I was interested in, I have been listening to podcasts to maintain my audio connection with the Japanese language.

Lately I took a another look at Amazon’s Audible and was surprised to see more current fiction like Convenience Store Woman and several mystery novels by Konno Bin. Filled with excitement about all the books I could now listen to, I applied for the free trial right away!

Only, I was quickly deflated by the geographical restriction for the credit card billing address. Amazon didn’t want my foreign money, and I still don’t have access to their small, but growing collection of current fiction read aloud by professional narrators.

Fortunately I found another source, called Audiobook.jp, formerly known as FeBe. The selection is much smaller, but the system is far less restrictive. I was immediately able to purchase Scientific Task Force, Case File Blue with no obstacle related to my geographical location. For a review of Audiobook.jp, check out SelfTaughtJapanese.com.

When I downloaded the iOS app and signed in, it synced right away making the book available for download. On the website, I was able to download mp3 files that seemed to be DRM-free, meaning I can listen to the book however I like, and I get to keep it regardless of the future of Audiobook.jp. I like this better than a monthly subscription, such as Audible’s, where you lose everything if you stop paying or they may decide to remove your favorites from the library. That said, for the increased selection, I would sign up for Audible in a  heartbeat if Amazon would allow it.

My first audiobook purchase

(ST警視庁科学特捜班 青の調査ファイル  – 今野 敏)

The novel I chose to purchase from Audiobook.jp is a police procedural mystery that is part of a series involving the Metropolitan Police Force’s Scientific Taskforce, or “ST”, consisting of several members with special skills. Here is a brief introduction of the characters, which appear in the many novels of the series.

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Japanese Book Review: Gasoline Life – Isaka Kotaro

(ガソリン生活 – 伊坂 幸太郎)

The times I have been to Japan, most of my transportation has been in the form of trains or buses, but the setting of this novel, Sendai, is actually closer to what my life is like in the United States. I’m not particularly interested in cars, but they are a necessary part of my way of life. Gasonline Life was an opportunity to read about people in Japan with a more familiar lifestyle — told from the perspective of their car.

A green Mazda Demio narrates the story based on what he overhears from his passengers and many conversations with other wheeled vehicles, from the all-knowing freight locomotives to unintelligible bicycles.

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New Book Highlight: Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath – Unno Juza

Locksleyu from Self Taught Japanese has released a new volume of Science: Hopes & Fears following a collection of short stories by Juza Unno. This second volume consists of a dystopian novella by the same author. Written in Japan in 1937, this is an early example of dystopian work that has previously never been translated into English. If you are a fan of novels such as Nineteen Eighty Four from George Orwell, then please pick up a digital copy of “Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath” and see Japan’s early contribution to the genre. I helped with translation checking and editing of this novella.

This story made me think of Mori Hiroshi’s W-series. I have only read the first three books so far:

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Japanese Short Story Translation: “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” by Kisaragi Shinichi [Chapter 6]

This is the sixth and final chapter of “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” (大泥棒に5分は長い), a short story by Kisaragi Shinichi 1(如月新一). I have permission from the author to translate this work.

Thanks to Locksleyu from Self Taught Japanese, both for inspiration to start this project and for help with verifying the translation and editing.

I’m Sorry, I Won’t Do It Again

The Anekawa couple wasn’t coming out of the bedroom, so we left their place behind, realizing this would be our only chance. It was a risky bet, but now the wind was drying our cold sweat—we made it.

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Japanese Short Story Translation: “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” by Kisaragi Shinichi [Chapter 5]

This is the fifth chapter of “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” (大泥棒に5分は長い), a short story by Kisaragi Shinichi 1(如月新一). I have permission from the author to translate this work, and I plan to release the complete story in six chapters.

Thanks to Locksleyu from Self Taught Japanese, both for inspiration to start this project and for help with verifying the translation and editing.

I’m Moving Back In With My Parents

“I’m moving back in with my parents.” I never thought the day would come when I would say those words. The only thing there for me is nagging. My parents are the type of people that still say a woman’s place is in the home, so I can’t imagine us seeing eye to eye.

My job comes with responsibilities. It’s not like I’m making a weekly magazine for fun. I’m hoping the articles I write will reach the world, resonate with the world, even a little. Occasionally I’ll write some worthless, exaggerated piece: actors and their suspected affairs, celebrity ratings, secret pop star rendezvous. But no matter the topic I want to take it head on. That’s why I just keep getting busier.

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Japanese Short Story Translation: “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” by Kisaragi Shinichi [Chapter 4]

This is the fourth chapter of “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” (大泥棒に5分は長い), a short story by Kisaragi Shinichi 1(如月新一). I have permission from the author to translate this work, and I plan to release the complete story in six chapters.

Thanks to Locksleyu from Self Taught Japanese, both for inspiration to start this project and for help with verifying the translation and editing.

If Only It Had Been Three-Minute Udon…

Do these noodles feel any different? I was slurping them up with my head cocked to the side, unable to recall what they were like before, when a sound came from the entrance; Abiko and I exchanged looks.

My expression stiff with wide eyes, I broke into a cold sweat.

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New Book Highlight: Science – Hopes & Fears – Selected Stories by Unno Juza

Unno Juza, known in Japan as the father of Japanese science fiction, has never been translated into English until now. Thanks to the creator of Self Taught Japanese, English speakers now have access to some of his work.  This E-book, available on Amazon, contains several intriguing and shocking short stories. I helped with some of the editing as a volunteer, and I’m excited to share some thoughts about the final product in this post.

If you are fascinated by how the the future has been imagined historically, then these stories will be perfect for you. They were written in the 1930s and 1940s and touch on many scientific fields. One example is the mention of electricity. I like to see electricity in classic fiction and try to understand the image of the technology held by people of the time period and how they envisioned it progressing.

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Japanese Short Story Translation: “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” by Kisaragi Shinichi [Chapter 3]

This is the third chapter of “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” (大泥棒に5分は長い), a short story by Kisaragi Shinichi 1(如月新一). I have permission from the author to translate this work, and I plan to release the complete story in six chapters.

Thanks to Locksleyu from Self Taught Japanese, both for inspiration to start this project and for help with verifying the translation and editing.

Chapter 3: Why a Book About Kyoto?

On the right was a Japanese style room with a tatami floor, and the room on the left was set up like a bedroom.

I went to the bedroom on the left, Abiko took the Japanese style room, and after ten minutes of rummaging we met up in the living room to compare our findings. Abiko was carrying a Kyoto travel guide, and I was holding a watch and a ring.

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Japanese Short Story Translation: “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” by Kisaragi Shinichi [Chapter 2]

This is the second chapter of “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” (大泥棒に5分は長い), a short story by Kisaragi Shinichi 1(如月新一). I have permission from the author to translate this work, and I plan to release the complete story in six chapters.

Thanks to Locksleyu from Self Taught Japanese, both for inspiration to start this project and for help with verifying the translation and editing.

Chapter 2: My Eyes Have Been Failing Me

In elementary school, being the kid that wins races is a big deal. Things were simple back then. However, when you get to middle and high school, running fast is no big deal—it won’t make you popular. No one pays attention unless you have outstanding looks or you’re involved in some kind of activity.

I’m still in my early twenties, so Abiko, in his mid-forties, says, “I don’t want to hear you say, ‘When I was young…’ ” and Aoi says, “If you were so fast, you should’ve just joined the track team.”

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