Translator Interview: J. D. Wisgo

Translator Interview:

We had a chance to interview J.D. Wisgo, the up and coming translator of this week's reviewed book, "Eight O'clock Music Bath".

I really hope to be able to offer a few more interviews like this any chance I get (I may have a few chances in the next 3 months!!!)

So, enjoy.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I've been into Japanese culture and language for over 20 years, and don't see my interest waning anytime soon. In the last few years I've been getting into translation little by little and find it challenging (as well as time-consuming), but also very rewarding.

How/when did you learn Japanese?

That's a long story and, if you don't mind the promotion, is actually one of the focuses of a blog I have been running for several years called Self Taught Japanese

But to answer briefly, I have tried to use any and all resources and techniques available to help improve my fluency (to name only a few: blogs, books, manga, movies, skype, newspapers, textbooks, etc.). Most importantly, even though I live in the US I try to immerse myself in Japanese language on a daily basis, whether that means listening to a Japanese podcast in the car, reading a Japanese novel for entertainment, or speaking Japanese at home. Another thing that I think has helped me is persistence, and trying to keep a "beginner's mind" so that I never delude myself to believe that I'm completely fluent and stop caring about improvement. 

For beginning students of Japanese, I would recommend focusing on grammar first since it enables you more easily improve in so many areas (speaking, reading, writing, listening, etc...) The sooner you can start interacting with Japanese written and spoken for Japanese speakers (whether that is a blog, book, or whatever), the better. Finally, never forget that keeping motivated is one of the most important aspects of any language study regiment; having the best tools for efficient study don't matter at all if you end up burning out and quitting before you have time to become fluent.

How did you discover Unno?

I was talking with a friend over email about another science fiction author (I think it was Yasutaka Tsutsui) and ended up doing a series of searches online about SF authors. Eventually I stumbled upon a page that talked about Juza Unno and his contributions to Japanese SF, and things went from there.

How did you go about getting permission for this project?

I contacted the Japan Writers' Association (日本文藝家協会) in Japanese and they helped put me in touch with the right people.

Do you plan to do more Unno translations, and will you look at his later government sanctioned works of propaganda?

Yes, I'd rather not give specific names at this point but I have several translation projects of his works in various stages of progress. 

Having said that, Juza Unno was a very prolific writer and I have not read all of his works yet. If anyone has any suggestions for stories to translate I'd be happy to hear them.

By the way, "Eighteen O'Clock Music Bath" is actually the second volume in a series of Juza Unno's works. The first contains short stories of his that I selected as some of my favorites of works of his, including "The Living Intestine" which is an eerie story about...well I think you can guess (:

Where can people follow you?

Besides the website I mentioned above you can follow me on Twitter at @selftaughtjapan.

Thanks Again to J.D. and we all hope to see more of your work in the future.