Translation was a crucial force in Japan’s modernization, shaping everything from public policy to the literary world. The field of children’s literature was no exception. Translations of children’s “classics” from English and other major European languages are prominent on the scene from the Meiji period (1868-1912) onward, eventually experiencing an incredible boom after WWII. This panel focuses on developments since the war, even while considering the longer trajectory of the complex relationship between Japanese children’s literature and translation.
Each paper deconstructs the idea of translation as a unidirectional flow, reflecting instead on how the movement of texts enriches children’s literature as a whole, both nationally and internationally. Joan Ericson begins the dialogue with an examination of how Muraoka Hanako’s influential translation of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (Akage no An, 1953) both addresses the postwar Japanese scenario and reformulates concerns featured in prewar proletarian children’s literature. Hyoseak Choi continues the discussion on the postwar translation boom by examining why Nobel Prize winner Kawabata Yasunari’s 1953 translation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy was reissued by a major publishing house in 2020. Melek Ortabasi explores the transnational politics of translation by demonstrating how the anime series, Haha wo tazunete sanzenri (3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, 1976), is both a translation as well as a Japanese “original” that was exported back to Europe. Finally, Avery Udagawa reminds us how important it is to continue encouraging the translation of homegrown Japanese children’s literature into English.
Paper Presenter: Melek Ortabasi – Simon Fraser University
Paper Presenter: Joan E. Ericson – Colorado College
Paper Presenter: Hyoseak Choi – Columbia University
Paper Presenter: Avery Fischer Udagawa