February 25, 2022:
If you’ve been with us for awhile, you’ve no doubt heard us hint at using our translations to help learners actually dig into the original Japanese writings.
To help with this, we’ve made a slew of parallel text cards that feature excerpts from stories by Murakami, Endo, Nogami, etc., but now we’re kickin’ it up a notch, and bringing to you Maplopo Schoolhouse.
With Maplopo Schoolhouse, we walk you through the stories we translate so you can get a better understanding of the story, the language (and the nuance of both), through our eyes.
We’ll cover vocabulary and grammar, provide you with tools to stregthen your learning in the form of audio and video tutorials, and provide worksheets to solidify your knowledge.
We’ve designed Maplopo Schoolhouse with readers in mind.
It’s not designed to prepare you for the JLPT, and it’s not designed to help turn you into a translator. 😉
It IS designed to help you enjoy the stories on a more complete level if you can already read some Japanese or English, and it’s designed to introduce you to the stories if your skills are at the advanced beginner, or lower intermediate level—like me.
So, if your language skills are anything like mine (not entirely that good… you should hear the bloopers from these lessons!) you will get a lot out of the lessons.
Like you I am a student.
Paid lessons (which come with all the additional study materials) will be available a la carte, or as a complete package. We’re working on the pricing structure now.
If you’d like to be a beta tester of the program and are available to provide feedback on the lessons, we’d love to consider you to be part of the program. Sadly, we cannot accept everyone into the beta progam.
Being a part of the program would involve watching and studying the lessons to provide feedback so we can make this the most incredible way to learn Japanese (or English if you already speak Japanese!) possible.
Because of this, we’re offering a limited number of beta testers our Dazai course for free. But, there are strings attached. This means, you’ll have to respond to us via feedback sessions to not only get the most out of what Maplopo Schoolhouse has to offer, but also to maintain participation in the beta tester program.
So, if you have the time (approximately a half hour to one and a half hours for each lesson, each week for about three months), please do reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And… that’s it!
Thanks for reading… this is going to be amazing.
February 20, 2022:
If anybody were to ask you, “Who do you look up to the most?” how would you respond? My answer would be, “For sure, Nogami Yaeko.”
I love and respect her so much. The more I’ve come to know her, the more I respect her, which I thought was impossible because I was sure I’d already exhausted every ounce of respect. She is the person I absolutely want to be like, live like, and write like… hmmm, maybe not “write like” because her style and mine are as far apart as chocolate soufflé and Reese’s Pieces candies. But, I do want to be smart and noble like her.
At the end of last year, I was finally able to get a hold of her complete works—fifty-seven volumes in total—having picked them up at an online auction site. Such a body of work is clearly evidence of her talent as an amazing writer, and she lived a long, productive life. She just got better and better, and made it all the way to ninety-nine. So, ever since the day those books arrived, I’ve been geeking out and skipping through her writing, soaking up such goodies as diary entries, letter exchanges, and transcriptions of talks with other famous writers and scholars.
Because of this, I thought it would be nice to share my appreciation of Nogami Yaeko and so I’ve created a page dedicated to her. It’s in Japanese at the moment but it will also be available in English in no time flat!
Hope you enjoy it.
February 14, 2022:
Happy Valentine’s Day!
We’re very pleased to announce that Sakaguchi Ango’s Wind, Light, and the Twenty-Year-Old Me has been released and is now available around the world at Amazon.com.
I love the cover! This is Doc’s masterful shot, and I love the color of the sky and the ephemeral cloud that happens to be floating at the top of the frame… you can see the cool edits he’s done to the raw image, like adding the wispy, white rays that meander through its canvas. That represents a few things in the story…. 😉
Hope you like the cover and what’s inside as well. Maybe a nice gift for someone you care about? ……Alright, see you very soon!
January 28, 2022:
Very exciting! We just sent out the unabridged version of Wind, Light and the Twenty-Year-Old Me to the Reading Circle last week. Slowly but surely, lovely Maplopo readers are increasing in number each and every day—with 375 people on the mailing list, and visitors from various places (128 countries!) to the website as of today. It’s all thanks to you, those who continue to believe in and support our effort. Thank you so much! I can’t thank you enough, really.
This year, I’m full-on Maplopo and that’s all I’ve got on my mind everyday. Of course, being Maplopo’s biggest fan, I have to prove that I deserve that title. 😉
To start off, here are two videos you might enjoy. Cool things will continue to pour out of Maplopo HQ! Stay tuned to keep abreast of updates!
Have a lovely weekend.
P.S. Doc is back on Twitter. He’ll be tweeting things about Maplopo in real time there as well.
January 20, 2022:
Why, hello there, Maplopers. Today is the day before the day. The day before we release the unabridged version of Ango’s Wind, Light, and the Twenty-Year-Old Me. If you are on the mailing list you’ll be among the privileged to get a PDF copy of the story for free. Yay! Otherwise, we’ll be publishing it on Amazon soon.
In some ways, I feel as though I’ve aged 20 years in the time it’s taken us to wrap this one up, but it’s been only a year… thank you so much for waiting for it. Despite being cooped up for the majority of 2021, it was a busy and fruitful year for us, and we’re pleased to be leading off 2022 with a our complete translation of this wonderful story. As you know, Ango is not an easy bugger to read, let alone translate, and so in going through this version of the translation we also took the liberty of making a few select adjustments to areas of the abridged version as well. We thought some points could benefit from a revision, so if you’ve already read the abridged version, you’ll notice a few tweaks. We hope you enjoy the clarity the newer version brings to some of those areas.
Okay! Well… that’s it for now! Be on the lookout tomorrow, it’ll be in your inbox before the day is out here in Japan. Oh! And, check your promotions and update tabs if you’re a Gmail user. Gmail has a wonderful way of hiding things from all of us sometimes. If it’s not in your inbox, search those two tabs, and drag the email from there to your inbox. That’ll ensure you always get goodies from us.
Speaking of goodies. If you’re not on the mailing list, you’ll miss out on things like this, so sign up on the Reading Circle page, and you’ll be good to go.
That’s it. Happy reading, Maplopers…
Ango is coming! Ango is coming! Ango is coming!
January 11, 2022:
Morning, Maplopers… because we’ve been busy juggling a number of projects as of late, Reiko had to put some of her personal writing on the back burner. But, fear not! This weekend, she brought Miraculous Gift of Sunday back to life with a piece about settling into Friday movie night… our first movie night in a long time.
And, just like any good movie, there’s popcorn, laughs, introspection and surprise. Surprisingly, just like any good book. Perhaps without the popcorn.
<Doc in his radio narration voice>
Tune in for the exicting conclusion!!!! of: Miraculous Gift of Sunday: Friday Movie Night!
P.S. <Reiko, in her much calmer voice>
Um… it doesn’t have as much excitement as Doc is trying to create here… it’s just my usual scribble in Japanese. 😉 —R
January 2, 2022:
(This video is now archived and unavailable online)
Looking for more of us in motion? Here is our first New Year announcement… if you’re lucky we might even do one of these every year. 😉 In this one, Doc chats first in English, followed by Reiko in Japanese…
We’ll take you through what you can expect as we roll through 2022, and you’ll get to hear Reiko dishing up some fine Kansai-ben as well!
Exciting things are on deck, particularly if you’re learning Japanese, or English and practicing at an advanced level [ (JLPT 1 or JLPT 2, or upper intermediate (B2) and advanced (C1 and C2) ].
Also! Don’t miss the bloopers at the end!
And, sign up with the Reading Circle for early announcements, bonuses, and other goodies from your favorite Japanese authors! The mailing list is changing in 2022, so if you’re not on it you will definitely be missing out on cool stuff.
Happy New Year!
Doc and Reiko
December 31, 2021:
Happy New Year’s Eve, Maplopers! It’s been a whirlwind year, and we continue to look forward to what’s on the horizon. We hope you’re doing the same. And while we’re looking forward, it’s also kinda cool to look back… particularly when it comes to books.
So, Reiko decided to put together a little collection of quotes from some of the books in the Maplopo library. You’ll find them on their very own page, called: Brain Food. There, you’ll find a mix of both Japanese and English literary quotes picked quite at random and with much whimsy—things she finds inspiring, or thought-provoking, or simply sentences pleasant to read. A nod to the craft, if you will.
If you’re a fan of book quotes, head on over and check it out. She suspects she’ll be posting frequently (she’s already at 20 or so, in just two days!) so if quotes are your bag, you will not be disappointed!
December 27, 2021:
Hey, look Maplopers… it’s Maplopo In Motion! Or, rather… it’s Doc and Reiko out in the wild, having crawled free for an ever-so-brief separation from all those dictionaries and classic stories…
Enjoy this little blooper reel from our 2022 announcement video… it’ll be a big year for us, and we’re excited to share all of what’s in store. Stay tuned… more to come!
Doc and Reiko
December 25, 2021:
Good morning, Maplopers. And, Merry Christmas! Hope you’re all welcoming in a beautiful Saturday morning on this celebratory day. Any good plans?
Today, we’re sharing this powerful passage from our draft translation of Wind, Light, and the Twenty-Year-Old Me. We worked on it last night till our brains turned to a soggy mush like thoroughly cooked oatmeal, called it a night, and went to bed. This morning, I was naturally awake at 4:30, and my mind immediately went to where we gave up the night prior. At 5:30, with a good cup of Meister Blend or two, warm millet, and freshly baked butter biscuits (which all were masterfully prepared by D, the chef at Maplopo HQ) I was very much ready to tackle once again the tricky sentences Master Ango penned.
We like how the translation came together after sketching the idea out on paper, discussing and revising it dozens of times, recording the passage in both Japanese and English then pulling it apart even more—this process I truly enjoy. We’ll be dripping more out as we near completion!
So, here’s your peek at the passage in both Japanese and English… more to come.
Along with Suzuki, I was frequently reminded of Ishizu and Yamada. I cannot help but think only unhappiness lies in store for these three in the future. I first began to gaze into unhappiness from above the students’ gloom—not considering my own. This unhappiness means one is not loved; one is not respected. In the case of Ishizu, she would merely be toyed with, and I imagined a worthless lump of flesh soon living as a prostitute lacking various emotions like joy, anger, sadness or pleasure. I didn’t know a real brothel or a prostitute, and I only constructed my reality based on what I gained through novels and other sorts.
November 20, 2021:
Last night, Doc and I finished Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities. I felt as though we’d been reading this book forever, and wondered how long it had taken. Turns out, it took us a solid year to go through, given we were reading in bed at night just before going to sleep. Classic, bedtime-story style. So, sometimes I was tired and we couldn’t read much. Other times, I’d fall asleep to Doc’s smooth jazz-radio-voice after just a couple of sentences. But finally, we finished!
This was my first time reading Charles Dickens in English, and as I got to know his style—how he delivers suspense, combines words and phrases so beautifully, and how his characters think and talk with one another, I was slowly but surely falling captive to the story.
The talent of these true writers never ceases to amaze me. Dickens’ writing is so powerful and effective that Doc and I were literally like little kids watching a cool cartoon—our fists clenched with excitement, like when Monsieur the Marquis was found dead in his bed, a knife thrust into his heart, and scribbled on a note attached to it: “Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from Jacques.” At times, I was emotionally moved and had to cry because of what characters say like when Sydney Carton says: “Let the Doctor play the winning game; I will play the losing one.”
This character, Sydney Carton, is such a wonderful, cool man. His coolness spilled gradually and heavily toward the end, and I became so attached to him. One of my favorite scenes that depicts how cool he is is when he negotiates with Barsad, the spy, while continuing to pour himself glassfuls of Brandy and drink one after another, deliberately causing Barsad to feel more anxious and fearful.
Experiencing A Tale of Two Cities (or, Two Tales of a City as I sometimes messed up the name in the beginning of our journey) was impactful, brimming with awe-inspiring moments, and I most definitely got a lot out of reading it. Not to mention, my additional routine of going over the passages the next morning with a pencil in hand, then having Doc re-read them again (and recording them while putting on makeup), so I could benefit once again by listening on my way to work.
It was a wonderful, wonderful gift. (Especially being a Thomas Nelson Winter Edition, and the 1,204th of only 10,000 copies!) I absolutely couldn’t have enjoyed this experience in any better way.
P.S. Next up… Kafka!
November 15, 2021:
So! The last scoop on our updates to the unabridged version of Ango was that Reiko had finished with the handwritten version of her initial translation. Cool, right? Well…
…yesterday, she finished inputting all of those notes into the computer, and now we’re ready to start tackling the edits! I can’t wait.
It’s really cool to see how different parts of the story I hadn’t been privy to until now become more fleshed-out and adding to Ango’s overall thinking. We learn more about the young students and why he considers them to be even more mature than the adults who surround him, and we also get a deeper impression of the look and feel of the area where the story takes place.
There are a number of beautiful and very insightful passages I believe you’ll enjoy, and of course, Ango’s sense of humor again front and center.
So… things are shaping up nicely!
Also! We have very cool news to share…
A dear friend has signed on to do the cover for the paperback release of the story when we post it on Amazon later in the year… we simply cannot wait to see what sort of magic she works out for the design.
We’ll share a cover release before it goes live… maybe to our mailing list folks only, though… just one of the many reasons to sign up!
Okay, that’s it for now… back to work!
October 31, 2021:
BIG news. This morning, Reiko finished up the last remaining paragraph of the sections we pulled from Ango to create our original unabridged version of Wind, Light and the Twenty-Year-Old Me. And, we’re stoked.
What this means is the entrails of the abridged sections are starting to take shape… and soon, we’ll be working on the first draft. Then, the second. Then, the third. Then, the fourteenth. You’d be surpised how often we change things up as we become more familiar with the story-lines, tease out meaning and go back and forth on what the precise meaning of a word is. It never fails to amaze me how often we can spend a number of hours on a paragraph, enjoy how it’s come together, then tear the whole thing apart again once or twice more to land on our final version. The process is definitely never without its struggle and high points. So! If you’ve been looking forward to reading the entire version of Sakaguchi’s story… you won’t have to wait much longer. Things should be wrapped before the end of the year, we think, and we’ll have the printed version up and ready to go on Amazon around that time as well. Perhaps a good holiday gift for yourself or a loved one? 😉
Well… we took the opportunity to enjoy the nice weather here in Kobe this past weekend and ventured out to Rokko Island to visit a museum and picnic just outside the building. A nice bottle of wine came along with us, that was part of a lovely gift package from Reiko’s sister, and along the way we picked up the sort of accoutrements that go well with such an event: cheese, sashimi, some fried oysters… (gotta always have something fried when it comes to a picnic, right?) and basically made merry. A good time for sure, and a nice way to unwind after a rather long stretch of hard work.
Of course, we didn’t stop there. Later in the evening we went out again to a nearby izakaya that feels much like home, and enjoyed some more libation and wonderful food. We hadn’t been to this favorite spot of ours in a long, long time, and it was nice to shake off that general feeling of cooped-up-ness we’ve all been forced to endure these past two years. We hope you’re getting out and about a bit more as of late yourselves.
Aside from Ango and all the picnicking, we’ve got a number of exciting things in the works for 2022. And, if you’re learning Japanese (particularly at the N2 or N1 level) we think you’ll be excited to learn what is on deck. Keep an eye out for emails about this as we get closer to 2022. Because 2022 is going to be a rocker.
We’re also proud to announce our participation in Kobe City’s Startup Hub, a wonderful program aimed at helping entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level here in Japan. We’re blessed to be included in the program, and thanks to Joshua Flannery of Innovation Dojo, have already been placed in touch with a wonderful mentor who is shepherding us through some of our initial stages of development.
SO! A lot going on.
Not a bad deal.
Okay, Maplopers… peace out for now. Stay tuned!
October 18, 2021:
How many of you looked up into the sky and gazed at the moon last night?
Out walking Chiro around seven o’clock, Doc and I noticed the bright, nearly full moon in the cloudless sky. It was strikingly beautiful. And it reminded me of a story I recently read… Higuchi Ichiyo’s Jyusanya (“The Thirteenth Moon of Autumn”).
Although the story is inarguably on the sad side and evokes melancholy feelings, I do like it. I like it because, for one, it’s very well structured, and written with Ichiyo’s unique and remarkable style. The principal character, Oseki, is great. I can sense strength in her, and believe she’s got the guts and smarts to help herself live strongly in spite of the troubles she’s destined to face given her life’s unfavorable circumstances. Because the story is so impactful, I’ve convinced Doc that we should work on its translation as the next item on our agenda!
Coincidentally, according to the lunar calendar, today is the thirteenth of September, the day on which the story takes place. And because today we traditionally welcome the cold of winter and say goodbye to the calm, pleasant nature of autumn, you could say this day is inherently melancholy. This story carries that mood along with it.
In this opportune moment, how about giving it a read?
October 11, 2021:
Ah, Sundays. A relaxing day to collect oneself… to enjoy a bit of exercise… to stretch a short weekend pause into a long one. Such a routine is a common refrain for us, and yesterday began like most—with a nice run around the city. Up and at ’em early. Around 4:30. This little heat wave we’re dealing with in Kobe is a lot better to run through before the sun rises.
We were back around 8 o’clock, and hit the grocery store up for a few veggies. Then, it was up the mountain for a quick shower, and a reverse course back down the mountain to bring The Chi in for his own bi-monthly spa session.
Everything mapped so nicely to what ended up being a very calm mid-morning as The Chi was away enjoying the spa. (It’s really just a bath and a scrub down… and maybe a bit of nail trimming… but he prefers to think of it as a spa treatment.) He is so spoiled, ya know? But look at him! Doesn’t he look magnificent after all that tidying up?!
The absence of the little pitter-patter of Chipopo feet yesterday morning meant our classic fill-your-plate and stuff-your-belly-after-run-brunch was a bit more relaxed than usual. But, before long we were off to retrieve him from the vet and welcome him to roam again these Kobe streets in his flashy white coat.
A number of relaxing and productive work hours later, it was time for a light dinner. We had the incense going, leftovers were out of the fridge and ready to be plated up, The Chi was waiting between us for the accidental propulsion of a sliced vegetable from the cutting board—something for him to nibble on…
“…a carrot maybe? How about some broccoli? Hey! Give me something good, now, it’s been a long day. Remember all that man-handling I endured today? And, what’s with that silly, cute, blue ribbon thingy they put on me? I’m a man, don’t they know that? And, jeez… it was so darn hot. Remember all that water I had to drink? I’m so hungry. Can I have a carrot?”
He was being very patient, as always. And then, there was a sudden change in his stance…
A shift from sitting upright to a lower, tell-tale, short squat. Then… the sound.
The sound of what must’ve been a half pint of that afternoon’s thirst quencher being deposited all over the kitchen floor.
We just kinda looked at him—daring not to move an inch… puzzled as the scene played out… as the amber pool of liquid drawing perilously near our feet as our beautiful, fluffy, little boy let loose because he couldn’t hold it a second longer.
The Chi turns fourteen this year, and lately he’s been a bit more vocal than usual. That makes it difficult to discern his intent sometimes… Does he want to go out? Does he need some companionship? Does he just want comfort on an evening where the barometric pressure is a bit too low?
Chi is also quite the nuzzler—a signal he enjoys giving freely. Usually, it means “pet me.” Sometimes it means, “feed me.” Lately, it sometimes means, “Hey, I need to go out.”
Yesterday, seemed to be the perfect combination of all things. And even Chi seemed unsure as to which signal to offer up. In the end, no signal came… just that sound, and the slight gasp of our surprise in witnessing this first-ever mishap.
No worries. It’s good training we say. Some day, a new baby who shares our name might be tossing-up all over our shoulder just before we head out the door.
It’s all part of life, right? When you truly live it, you learn how to navigate it.
And, so, after the 25 minutes or so we lost cleaning up, we tossed back a quick dinner and took Chi out for a now slightly less pressing, but still well-deserved, walk. Back home, we said good night to the magnificent looking fellow, strolling behind him as he went into his den for the evening, and as we went upstairs for our very own, well-deserved, night’s rest.
October 2, 2021:
Hello Maplopers. How’s it going?
We’ve just realized it’s already October, and in three months, we’ll be welcoming a new year, 2022! So, an important mission set for this year needs to be immediately and earnestly taken care of: namely, the task of unabridging Sakaguchi’s Wind, Light, and the Twenty-Year-Old Me. And that means multi-tasking is naturally in order, given there are other important assignments in the works. And that means more coffee is inherently going to be consumed by both Doc and Reiko.
I love working on Ango and it reminds me of how much fun I had last year when we were working on the abridged version of his story. Hope to deliver the complete version to you soon.
Till then, here’s a sneak peek of what we’ve finished so far. The text below appears in the beginning of the story when Ango talks about his famous boxer friend, S, back in high school.
Do you care for snakes? Ew, yuck!
Read on to see what happens!
The Japanese and English excerpt from the draft:
The shadowy area beneath the trees in the meadow was swampy and filled with snakes, so the boxer told me he was going to catch and sell the snakes, and took some home with him. Then one time when I went to his house to hang out, I saw he was keeping snakes in the drawer of his desk. On another occasion, the boxer found a snake in the prisoners’ cemetery, leapt upon it, grabbed it by the tail and dangled it in the air. Immediately, he realized the snake was a pit viper, and out of sheer terror went into a sudden frenzy whipping it round and round in circles with maniacal earnestness. He kept whipping it about without a single utterance for a good five minutes. Then he dashed it against the ground and crushed its head under foot. He was painstakingly crushing the snake’s head, muttering to himself, “F that. Bitten by a pit viper in a prisoners’ cemetery and dead—in no way would that be funny.” Strangely, I remember it clearly to this day.
September 25, 2021:
Recently, we’ve had the honor of working with the Kobe City government on its Eldercare Technology Implementation and Promotion Project here in the city, and we couldn’t be more pleased to help expose this beautiful city to a wider international audience through our translation.
It also couldn’t be for a better cause, we think—helping advance the wellness of eldercare residents in Kobe’s care facilities and hospitals, as well as support the individual health of each of the care workers who support them.
A special shout-out goes to Junko Yasuda, CEO of No Lift Labo who introduced us to the project. We are indebted.
If you are a medical device provider interested in working with nursing home facilities in Japan, and in being part of this ground breaking pilot program, please visit the Kobe City Eldercare Technology Implementation and Promotion Project website and submit your interest!
September 12, 2021:
Hi, folks! So… we’ve been quite busy as of late working on a number of short and long term projects here at Maplopo HQ, and we’re excited about what is to come. In the meantime, though, we’ve been creating a number of videos of our parallel text translations of Sakaguchi Ango, Natsume Soseki, and Nakajima Atsushi you might find helpful if you’re studying either English or Japanese.
Doc has also been busy writing for GaijinPot here in Japan… it’s an online publication geared toward the English speaking community… he curates the job section and helps find cool part time, full time, and remote gigs that people might want to consider as they aim to fill their pockets with yen! 🙂
Well, we both got the vaccine this month. On Friday, we had the second shot, and got nailed pretty hard by the side effects that first day after. Doc benefited from a nice nap, but of course, Reiko powered through being tougher than Doc and all (this is Doc writing, of course!). Hee… Today we feel great, so it’s back to work on a variety of Maplopo goodies… like Reiko’s Eighteen! Have you read any of it in either Japanese, or English?
Have fun, Maplopers!
Be safe out there.
Doc and Reiko
August 24, 2021:
Howdy, Maplopers… this week, we released another in our series of audio excerpts—this one from our English translation of Botchan’s Chapter Six. In this part Botchan finally gets up the courage to launch into monologue against one of his more eloquent (?) school orators. It’s one of our favorite classic story moments, in this classic Soseki tale. Listen along in English, read along in English, and read along in Japanese… all in this single video. Cool, no? Have at it!
August 16, 2021:
If you’re a woman, or if you have a woman in your castle, many of you can probably relate to the “uncontrollable food craze” phase that’s boosted by that oh-so-troublesome progesterone we women have to deal with. And, to this day with this particular period, I still haven’t quite won the battle to calm my belly down. Each month around this same time, I tell myself, “Stop thinking about food already!” Alas, it’s no luck… and when it kicks in, I just have to surrender myself to the crazy appetite that runs amok like a raging ocean.
And, give in I did. It all started two days ago, and I was bad… which usually means that in the day or two that follow, a liquid diet must win over to compensate for my guilty misdeed. Actually, it really is a perfect way to give the stomach a rest and cleanse the body.
So this morning, while Doc was enjoying a lovely-smelling, freshly-baked bagel he’d gone and picked up from our neighborhood bakery, next to him, I was shredding carrot, daikon radish, and ginger into my soup.
And this soup was consumed while we were editing Eighteen Part II in English, and now, it’s ready to go live!
We have several favorite lines in this part. What will be yours? We’d love to know. Please feel free to send us any feedback if you’d like!
P.S. A liquid diet, by the way, includes anything liquid which, in my book, can encompass beer and other bubbly beverages, which’ll be something to look forward to tonight.
August 13, 2021:
Rainy Kobe today… which makes for a lovely addition to the three day weekend if you ask Doc… if you ask Reiko, well… enjoyment of the rain is a rather adopted taste. 😉 Surprisingly, though, even the Master of the House, Chiro, was quite calm today. Maybe taking after his mother.
Regardless, the rain provided ample time away from the grocery store and our planned trip to Kyoto to bring to fruition Part II of Eighteen in English.
There is certainly more to come.
This is but just a teaser.
How’s your Japanese?
Read on, and enjoy.
Doc and Reiko
August 9, 2021:
Hey, all… word on the street is there’s a cool new izakaya in Kyoto you should visit… it’s got great style, great ambiance, the food is marvelous, and the cocktails refreshing. It’s also owned and run by Reiko’s brother, Shoei! You may remember his artwork from the inside cover of Nakajima’s Legend of the Master!
He just opened this past July 31st, but launching his very own bar and restaurant has been a long held dream, shouldered until the time and finances were right. Now, free from work that had him dusted in flour making snacks for the hungry masses here in Japan, he’s now behind the counter of a bar and restaurant that he designed and built with his own bare hands, and those of a few dear to him. A team effort for sure… even Reiko’s parents contributed… you may notice her father’s wonderful calligraphy on the noren out front… a noren crafted by her mother.
So, if you’re in Kyoto any time in the near future, please stop by and say hello. You may even get the chance to read one of our latest stories between sips of your favorite beverage.
P.S. Don’t let the name fool you if you’re a vegetarian or pescetarian… Shoei will accommodate you with selections that’ll satisfy your hunger as well.
August 4, 2021:
We added a new English audio excerpt of Ango to the Video Trailers and Samples page this week… feel free to check it out. Listen and read along in Japanese with your morning coffee or late evening night cap why don’t you? It’ll be a nice way to sneak in some parallel text reading just before hitting the rack.
We’ve got more of these on the way… if you like them, drop us a line and let us know. Always good to hear from you…
July 24, 2021:
Hello, Maplopo readers. How are you doing?
Like we said in our last post, we’re in the middle of a long holiday weekend here in Japan. We’ve worked quite a bit for the last two days, and are feeling quite accomplished. Do you treat yourself enough when you want to celebrate your accomplishments… or celebrate your general good mood? Well, I do… a lot. And, I think it’s quite important and, … almost necessary. You can’t be too indifferent to your own accomplishment, right?
So, today, Doc and I had some individual commitments to fulfill in Sannomiya this morning, and while I was spending some time in a bookstore before the appointed time of my obligation, I thought of getting something for myself and decided to pick up a couple books.
After feeling like I’d spent almost forever swimming in an ocean of numerous books, I finally realized what I wanted to give myself—Suga Atsuko. Specifically, her collection of essays and the Japanese literature stories she’s compiled. I can’t wait to submerge my head deep into them and allow her to influence my thoughts and urges over time.
Oh my god. Can I tell you this?
So, last week, I was basically doing the same thing. Getting myself a few books randomly as a treat… and this book—this book is CRAZY! I’m forever thankful to the person who recommended it to me and myself who actually decided to pick it up.
Miyamoto Teru (宮本 輝). His Kinshu (錦繍) has just blown my mind. Woooooow! I loved it… Damn. So, so good. It’s not just a typical relationship story—predictable. It’s more of a letter exchange between a man and a woman who were once married. It’s about the very gist of life. Like every remarkable story I happen to encounter… I’ll be definitely thinking about it for a while.
Umm, so shortly after Doc and I tagged up, having completed our morning commitments, we noticed a bottle of this wine named “18,” as well as this package of freshly baked blueberry and cream cheese scones that we just couldn’t pass up, and felt obliged to get. We looked at each other and decided instantly… well…, of course, we need to get them. If you’re familiar with Eighteen, or Something Nascent, you can wink at us and say, “Oh, yeah!”
Do you know what I’m talking about?
It’s been some time since we’ve been able to share a Saturday afternoon together in town, and we are so ready to celebrate these past few days of work. So, we will most definitely be enjoying both that wine and those scones this evening.
Hope you enjoy your evening too and remember to treat your lovely self. You deserve it.
July 22, 2021:
Youth is power. Youth wins beauty.
But still, we want to believe that as we age, we become more beautiful. Here’s to all of us growing each day. Happy holidays, Japan.
Yes. It’s a holiday in Japan! And we have a nice long weekend ahead of us, courtesy of the 2020 (?) Olympic Games schedule.
We’re going to be making the most of it by working on an interesting project (神戸市介護テクノロジー導入促進プロジェクト) for the Kobe City government and non-profit, No-Lift Labo, and by continuing with the translation into English, Reiko’s original short story, Eighteen. Have you seen or heard that story as of yet?!
Whether you’ve just rounded a corner or two toward eighteen, or that number is a far off, distant (yet familiar) memory, we think you’ll find Yura’s quirky, older-brother-admiring voice fun, introspective, and relatable.
We’ve been dripping out parts of Eighteen as of late, but since we’ve got a four day weekend ahead of us, we’ll have more time to work on it. So, stay tuned!
Speaking of original work, our first co-written short story has been quite warmly received by those who have already spied it. If you enjoy breezy, flirtatious stories about first time meetings, you might enjoy Something Nascent as well.
Okay, world! So, have a lovely end to your week, and beginning to your weekend…. !
Japan! Let’s have some fun this long weekend, why don’t we?!
July 7, 2021:
The nature of how we fall for one another is always in motion and yet at its core it all really remains the same. A certain something pulls us in the direction of another without a hint it’s on its way, and if things balance out as that confluence begins, magic is the result.
Perhaps it’s a look. Or a simple compliment about your messenger bag. A general feeling of kindness you get from a smile, maybe… (or, of interest, if that smile is a bit upturned)… or maybe it’s a smart quip that serves to put you at ease…
We wanted to capture a little bit of that combination of energy and luck in this little email exchange between two fictional strangers who start to dip into one another’s orbit after a simple introduction by a colleague that matures into something a bit more fortunate as time and openness work their way into their little flirtatious exchange of emails.
Of course, as with all writing, this short story is pulled from the pages of life… old, new, real, and imagined. And, perhaps more than others, there is a tad bit more of us in this one as well.
Hope you enjoy it. What’s your story?
P.S. Don’t miss the image in Japanese of Konoha’s first email to Patrick at the conclusion of the exchange!
June 30, 2021:
Something Nascent is a story.
A short-short. A scribble, maybe. And, our very first shot at co-writing.
It’s loosely based on “true events,” as they say. The kind of story many an author might find themselves commenting (and, rightfully so in our case) as inspired by actual events. Do you know that moment?
That moment when a certain feeling overtakes you… when you can sense there’s this “something” clicking with this person you might actually, and eventually, fall in love with?
…Well, I too believe in that moment.
There is this sense that you enjoy the feeling you’re receiving from this person. A certain chemistry, if you will.
This story (or this, whatever…) is designed to hopefully capture that wonderful feeling.
So. Here is the beginning bit to Something Nascent – a peek into a budding romance over the course of a dozen or so emails.
And, as always, there is more to come.
Have a lovely night.
June 13, 2021:
I love writing and receiving letters… I mean, who doesn’t, right? It’s a beautiful gift to give to someone and to show you’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking of that person deeply and carefully amidst your busy schedule. Even a little scribble puts a smile on my face in my down days— a memo pad left on the kitchen counter that reads, … hope you had a beautiful run!! Love, … next to a pot filled with my favorite homemade granola mix, or a piece of paper placed on the foyer windowsill that reads … Aren’t these pretty?… next to a fresh bunch of baby pink lilies in a vase. If you haven’t offered up this little bit of magic to someone close to you, someone important in your life, I highly urge you to try. Trust me, It feels wonderful…
Today, I’ve just completed writing a letter to someone important in my life as well. This person is someone I highly respect and who has affected me in so many ways. I hope he happens to discover its existence and finds himself enjoying the read. It is my wish that he can feel my deepest, heartfelt endearment and support through my letter.
Here is the link to A letter to Mr. M. Please enjoy. -R
May 21, 2021:
Hello, Maplopo readers. How’s life? Did you have a good day today? Mine couldn’t have been more delightful, if I were a lover of agony, as I spent the latter part of it in the dentist’s office receiving treatment for a periodontal problem. How lovely… So! I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get stuck in the middle of a sentence, and end up searching painfully for the right words like Soseki’s character, Botchan. This can happen when I’m explaining to Doc what’s happening in a passage of the story as we translate, and drawing always comes to the rescue. Yes, I’m very aware that I’m not the best sketch artist in the world, but it does work like a charm every time. Here’re some of the sketches (or diagrams) I drew for this particular post today. Eighteen Part One in English is now up. Hope you like it.
Cheers! (Last words. Let’s take care of our teeth, shall we?) -R
May 20, 2021:
Howdy, Maplopers. Part One of Reiko’s first short story is rounding the corner toward completion! We’re going through some of the final edits now, and it’ll be ready for prime time in just a little bit. For now, though, we wanted to share with you this little paragraph where Yura is talking about her quite tall older brother and wondering… how tall is he again? Ah… no matter…
I’m wondering if he either has become a little self-conscious of this “Kingdom Tower” nickname… (Hmmm, maybe not. Knowing him, he probably finds the nickname somewhat entertaining.) or, is tired of the “Oh my heavens!” reaction he gets from people when he tells them how tall he is after being asked the very predictable and frequent question of: “How tall are you?” Either way, these days he’s begun to deflate his actual height, making it kind of official that he’s 6’2’’.
The full story in Japanese is yours for the reading on the Miraculous Gift of Sunday page. Thanks!
May 12, 2021:
Hello, everyone. Hope you are enjoying your Tuesday night as I’ve done so much to the fullest.
I’ve been wondering about this idea… that of permitting ourselves to experience and appreciate those tiny bits of happiness that can allow us to look forward to our next day… so we’ll look forward to repeating that little bit of happiness. I believe we should freely enjoy those moments, and express how much we gain from any trivial thing we might appreciate. For example, I appreciate so much the time I get to spend time with my Bear everyday, in both the morning and the night… and I’d love to scream to the world how much I love him and how much I look forward to the quality time we finally get to spend together at the end of the day. I guess what I’m saying here is that I don’t want to hide it. And that this sort of feeling and expression, shouldn’t be covered in a cloud of modesty because it is a beautiful feeling a person can own.
Anyway. So, enough mubling from a slightly intoxicated person.
Here is a fairly more concrete message to put out there and share… or not?! My story, 18, in English, is coming soon as we translate (or, rewrite) it in English. I love this process so much that I can’t replace it with anything else. Hope you enjoy our work as we throw it out there! A little bit of the beginning follows…
Brother is leaving tomorrow. In these eighteen years, there’s certainly been the occasional absence for a school trip, sporting camp, or overnight stay with friends, but he’s mostly been there right with me this whole time. Yet, that brother of mine is not going to be there in front of me as of tomorrow.
My brother is two years older than me, and he’s free and uninhibited. He does things as he pleases, and there isn’t a mold that can contain him. Perhaps what’s most visibly illustrative of this, is his magnificent height—he literally towers over people like a radio tower——it’s a very atypical Japanese physique, and he has pleasantly long arms and legs well suited to that of a male fashion model. In fact, so much so that on several occasions acquaintances have suggested this idea to him.
Read each installment of the full short story in Japanese on the Miraculous Gift of Sunday page. Thanks!
May 1, 2021:
Happy Golden Week, Maplopers! We hope you’re enjoying some lovely little aspect of your day wherever you find yourself in this fine world… are you in the mood for a little reading? Yes?! Excellent. Reiko has been polishing off her short story, Eighteen, all this week, and releasing it bit by bit on her Miraculous Gift of Sunday page. So far she’s up to the fourth segment, and that’s what we’d like to share with you today. Lot’s of dialog in these last bits… tune in. We were all eighteen once… or, we all will be eighteen at one time in our lives, if you’re reading this and not there just yet… thanks, eternally, for reading our work.
April 23, 2021:
Ready for a glimpse of Reiko’s short story, Eighteen? Head on over to the Whimsical Crumbs page, and check it out… if you’re a reader of Japanese you’ll be able to get a nice head start on all of our English-only readers for now, but English language readers, rest assured the translation is coming before long as well!
April 18, 2021:
A little treat today.
Reiko put the finishing edits on her first short story, Eighteeen. If you’re a reader of Japanese, you’ll have the opportunity to read it before I do (this is Doc typing, and hot damn… I am WAY jealous of you).
I’ve heard bits and pieces of this story, and I’m already in love with it. I’m dying to translate it into English so I can not only gain a glimpse into the heart of the story, but also to (hopefully) bring it to interested short story readers in English.
If you’d like to read a new short story by my lovely wife, stay tuned. Eighteen is coming your way.
April 11, 2021:
Today we added the full audiobook version of Wish Fulfilled by Dazai Osamu on its respective page. We’re pleased to offer the audiobook on the site for free… previously, only those who responded to our Reading Circle welcome message were able to grab it. It comes complete with our individual introductions to the story as well as the original Dazai story read in Japanese.
April 6, 2021:
For those of you who were hanging around this here news page in it’s infancy (way back in October of 2020), you may recall seeing us mention Doc’s essay entitled, The Ritual. Well, its receiving a bit of a revival as of late. This week we uploaded an audio file of Doc reading the story, and Reiko has begun translating it into Japanese as well. Today, we decided to let the cat out of the bag a bit just to let you know. So without further adieu, here is the intro in English, and in Japanese… full story after the bump!
From it’s resting place at the rear edge of the desk, she lifts the mirror and places it more comfortably near. The audible shiiiing it releases as it achieves its first bit of air reverberates as if a sword were being liberated from its scabbard.
. . .
April 3, 2021:
What’s in a word?
A lot, really. And the ways we choose and use words differ based on what we want to say, and how we learned to say them. Even when we share a common language, differences abound. In every state in America, in many towns in America, people speak differently, subtly, of course, but different still. Well known examples of how people reference footwear, or carbonated beverages are familiar examples.
In Japan, of course, dialects are everywhere as well. And with Reiko’s recent translation of The Rubber Band King of Lopatcong, she couldn’t rid herself of the itch to pull apart sections of the story and re-brand them as Kansai versions. She kept hearing (or wanting to hear) Jimmy, Frank, and the Cantebury and Bradford kids as if they were local Kansai characters—people she grew up with (herself included!) sound a certain way, and she really wanted to share that voice with readers.
And, so! Here we have it. The very first bit of the story translated into Reiko’s Kansai-ben. A particularly lovely, local voice I’m picking up on without even knowing it’s “different.” Maybe some day, I’ll be able to swing it to the degree that it’ll feel as natural to me as calling all casual footwear sneakers instead of tennis shoes, and all carbonated beverages, soda instead of pop, or… if you’re from down South, Coke. Cheers, —Doc
March 28, 2021:
A lot can happen in that span of of time… you can complete an unimaginable goal. Run a marathon. Get married (officially!) …
Each of these we have, together, achieved in this relatively short span of time. Yet, despite each of these ethereal accomplishments, we remain most proud of our shared accomplishment of writing and translating, from top to bottom, the first of our very own shorts.
… and, if I might I say…
… can I?
ZERO of this would have been possible without Reiko at the helm. Zero.
(Ah, … yes, of course, this is Doc writing…)
Her influence, her inspiration… makes it possible for me to write. Because… in a way… I’d really rather just eat pizza all day. And do nothing. Maybe put on a few pounds… ponder the critical nature of oregano over rosemary…
You get the idea.
She is the momentum behind my eternal motivation.
So … blah, blah… enough goofiness.
I wrote a story.
It’s about when I was a kid, and the mailman was so much a part of our daily lives that we revered him so.
In my memory still, he holds a special space. Reading this aloud was quite moving, and my edits are full of excised moments where I was far less than composed. Because this story is about me. It’s about my memories, my ideals, my fears…
It’s quite literally about my brother (Patrick), my next door neighbor (Little Mark) who grew up to be J. Alexander, and all the people in Lopatcong Township, New Jersey I never knew but felt. It’s about people I had a relationship with while never knowing them by name. The kids, the teachers, the shop owners, the… everyone.
The P’Burg clan.
It took moving to Asia for this story to materialize.
It took my lovely wife… her prodding, her encouragement…
It took love on all sides.
This is a story about one man (Jimmy the mailman), and the joy he brings to a multitude of young souls simply by doing his “job.”
Suprisingly, it can be that simple.
I love you, Reiko.
The Rubber Band King… now, in Japanese, by the only person capabable of doing it justice, Reiko Kane.
March 19, 2021:
Hey, what’s going on, you? Are you having a good Friday night? Are you spending that kind of crazy, chillin’ time you so definitely deserve after working your ass off the whole week? I hope so, I really do. Enjoy your night on with your beer, your wine, your whiskey… your vodka, your gin… or whatever. However you spend this time, it’s yours. Please own it.
March 10, 2021:
Prefer to read Dazai in Japanese? You’re in for a treat. This morning, we’ve posted fourteen additional passages from Dazai’s One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji, to compliment those included in Reiko’s previous write-up. Wander over and you’ll not only be treated to a bevy of wonderful Dazai quotes, but also to the incredible Japanese calligraphy Reiko’s father custom crafted for the post as well. Enjoy.
March 7, 2021:
How are you doing, Maplopers? Enjoying your Sunday evening? Well, if you are, great! How about tossing some more fun into your lovely evening? Here is another Miraculous Gift of Sunday story that might get your heart warm and fluffy. In this piece, you can find out about Reiko’s undying affection for a bird called Stiltsy, as well as Doc & Reiko’s 2020 reckless mission to run from Osaka to Kyoto in one day. Have a gorgeous night.
February 23, 2021:
Happy holiday, Japan! Would you like a quirky read with your evening rosé or morning coffee? Here is another Miraculous Gift of Sunday post where Reiko shares her oddly inseparable love with leftovers.
February 20, 2021:
Lots going on the last week here in Kobe—hope you’ve had a nice week yourself. Doc has been working on a number of projects outside of Maplopo as of late: Nihon Hustle; a site geared toward helping people interested in starting or growing their own small business or side hustle here in Japan, the companion site to his latest book, Fat, Dumb, Broke & Lonely, and Productivity Wins, which is just getting off the ground.
Here in Maplopo-land, Reiko has been busy as all get-out translating one of our Maplopo Originals, The Rubber Band King of Lopatcong into Japanese, as well as penning yet another essay in her Miraculous Gift of Sunday series. This week she’s written about what’s next on deck for us, which we think is going to be damn cool. You will want what we’re fixin’ if you’re studying Japanese, or studying English and love a good read. And hats off (right!) to our dear friend Mina for the lovely sketch of us behind the desk! We love this sketch so much… even Chiro makes an appearance!
What else? Ah. Doc has begun to add audio to our Botchan translation of Chapter Six, so if you’re interested in reading along while having an audio narration, you can check that out on the Botchan page. This’ll take awhile, as when we’ve read Chapter Six aloud before it’s taken about 40 minutes. So recording everything should take maybe a week or so. Kinda fun, and hopefully useful again for Japanese and English language learners.
Okay! So, that’s it for now… oh, wait (!) … we forgot! Reiko added some new style to the Monday Musings pages and updated the Nogami Yaeko, Tanabe Seiko, and Sakaguchi, Oda, and Dazai pages with new visuals and a new layout. Have you read these marvelous little bits yet? They’re worth your time, and they’re laid out in parallel text—perfect for language learners. Check em out. Ah! And, don’t miss Osamu Dazai’s Unvarnished passage from Tsugaru… what a foul-mouthed son’of’a’gun that guy is!
Now… “okay” for real! Here’s to a lovely bit of time until we spend time together again. Listen to some good music, eat some good food, maybe have a few tasty adult beverages. Dazai would approve. Be safe, be healthy. Have fun.
P.S. It snowed here in Kobe this week… what the heck?!
February 13, 2021:
Some months ago we closed out a Japanese to English website translation project here in Kobe for English speaking Dentist NONAKA Mie. Dr. Nonaka is a specialist in cosmetic dentistry and implantology here in Japan, and it was a wonderful pleasure to help her put together her English language website. Having Reiko pull apart all of the medical Japanese and translating it into English was a nice challenge—and a lot of fun. Doc’s experience as a medical writer came in handy here as well, especially since he specialized in writing for the dental industry for a number of years back in Chicago. So! If you’re ever in Japan, and need an English speaking dentist in Kobe, please visit Dr. Nonaka! And, if you’re reading this and you’re a dentist with an interest in writing or translating for your website, please say hello as well. We may be able to help.
February 8, 2021:
Last night Reiko posted her relections on Osamu Dazai’s One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji. She affectionately calls it, Mt. Fuji… and, so it is.
If you’re a reader of Japanese, you’ll find it to be a special treat. If you’re a reader of English, well, you’ll have to just hope at this time that we get around to translating it.
For now, you can read Reiko’s reflective take on Dazai’s own reflections, right here in Reiko’s Write-Ups.
February 4, 2021:
Two new posts as of late in case you missed ’em. Reiko wrote a nice little ode to all the marvelous Japanese and English dictionaries she uses here daily at Maplopo. If you’ve ever fallen in love with a lexicologist, you’ll appreciate this one.
Doc also wrote a short peice about the passing of one of his childhood heroes as well… Hank Aaron. Thanks all… have a wonderful few weeks. Cheers, from JAPAN.
January 23, 2021:
This week, Aleksandra Priimak took our English translation of Osamu Dazai’s Wish Fulfilled to a new level with a super-creative animated reading of the story on her YouTube channel, Nick and Alex. She does a brilliant job with the visuals, and it really helps bring Dazai’s work to life with a really keen eye toward style. At the close of the reading, Aleksandra provides additional insight into the story (having recently defended a thesis on Dazai at Sofia University is good preparation for that!)—we think you’ll enjoy the additional story notes. To connect with more of her work, you’ll find her bouncing around on Instagram and Twitter. So! Ready to check out Dazai in motion on YouTube? Have fun!
January 19, 2021:
Doc published his latest book “How to Never Be… Fat, Broke, Dumb & Lonely Again,” this week. It’s a short nugget-filled book of wisdom of sorts aimed at helping people break through some of life’s challenges surrounding health, smarts, finances and relationships. You can check it out on Amazon, or for a taste, on the book’s companion page at fatdumbbrokelonely.com
January 11, 2021:
This week we uploaded a PDF version of our Chapter Six translation of Botchan. The PDF includes all the Background Notes, and the footnotes for easy reading. So, download, print and share as always!
Reiko also created the very first installment in what will be her “Miraculous Gift of Sunday” series. Sunday occupies a nice place in Reiko’s week—a respite to the sometimes hectic nature of the workweek. This series won’t be a collection of Sunday happenings, nor notes about the day itself. Instead, it’ll be more of a quiet place in a corner of Maplopo where she’ll share certain reflections or moments that without explanation caused her to smile, or made her think, or maybe even wonder. Perhaps something Doc mentions that brings light to her day, or the simple way our dog Chiro happened to be resting alongside the library window… inconsequential moments, really, but things she sees as inherently, or surprisingly, meaningful.
She’s searched for a nice way to share such whimsical ideas for some time now, and this week thought of a name that seemed to sum things up nicely. These aren’t stories, per se. They’re more like crumbs. Big crumbs, though… like those that might fall off a big ol’ muffin. They’ll also be very random, not scheduled whatsoever… and more of a way to get things out of her head and onto paper, if you will, than anything else. We hope you enjoy them.