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 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 widsom 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.
December 31, 2020:
Happy New Year’s Eve, Maplopers! So! We knocked out the final portion of our translation of Natsume Soseki’s Botchan today. We hope you enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed translating it. We spent many months on this particular project, balancing it between many updates on the site, including the addition of our galleries (Doc’s photography, calligraphy from Reiko’s father, and our ever-expanding parallel text gallery for those of you interested in learning Japanese and/or English). We also wrote a number of original essays and short stories, and Reiko has even begun translating some of Doc’s stories into Japanese. Reiko also wrote several in depth pieces covering the work of Nakanishi Susumu. If you’re in love with Japanese words as much as we are, you owe it to yourself to check them out.
It has been a whirlwind year for us, and we’re forever grateful for the visitors, emails, and overall support all of you have offered throughout the year. A special thank you to Kimberly Tierney from NHK, for doing a read of our Atsushi Nakajima story, Legend of the Master, and to Taiyo Fuji for granting us permission to translate a few pages from his award winning science fiction novel, Hello World.
Also, we would be remiss not to mention the special degree of gratitude we hold for BSD Bibliophile. Anne’s work is an incredible asset to the world of Japanese literature, and anyone interested in the Bungo Stray Dogs franchise. She has been a fervent believer in our efforts from nearly day one (literally the first month), and we are so thankful to have her in our world. Please lend your attention to her projects if you’re interested at all in learning more about the Japanese writers we cover here at Maplopo, not to mention those we haven’t as of yet. She is always on fire!
So, what’s coming next year? Well, for now, we’re gearing up to finish our currently abridged first release of Sakaguchi’s “Wind, Light and the Twenty-Year-Old Me” as well as a vignette by Ango about the experience of soldier demobilized and returning from the front at the close of WWII. Our first Sakaguchi story is also being translated into Vietnamese by Emily Evans, a reader who does English to Vietnamese translations. Wow! Next year, we’ll also have more Masters of Story coming your way… we’re considering a number of works, including many by female writers—some of whom are incredibly dear to Reiko.
Aside from translating the work of Japanese writers long gone now, we’d also like to translate the work of living writers (as well as those recently departed), so we’re hoping to free up some of those materials if at all possible through the proper channels. It’s a slow moving train sometimes, and we’ve experienced a bit of that this year, but we’re hoping next year will yield a bit more fruit. We’ve had contact with a number of Japanese publishers to date regarding rights, so we’ll see what next year brings.
Well! We guess that’s it for now… have a lovely New Year, and if you haven’t signed up for the Reading Circle to be certain you never miss a new release, please consider doing so… we reach readers in 104 countries right now. Crazy!
December 27, 2020:
Doc’s most recent short story, Kohi, and another of our Maplopo Originals was posted today. It’s a little vignette about a couple from Muroran, Hokkadio that discover a shared love for coffee, cycling and one another shortly before the war. Originally, this story was envisioned as an animated short without any dialog, so if you know of any brilliant animators who would like to help make this story move on screen, please don’t be a stranger. Enjoy.
December 26, 2020:
As we approach the conclusion of our Chapter Six translation of Botchan by Natusme Soseki, we enter the meeting scene. In this part of the story, Botchan finds himself at his very first professional meeting. He’s got a lot to say, but is without the attendant skill to have the words eloquently exit his mouth. He’s angry, and frustrated by the futility of it all, and could use a hand… will an unsuspecting ally rise to the occasion? Check out The Meeting Scene and get ready for the wrap… coming soon!
December 23, 2020:
In today’s intallment of our English translation of Soseki’s “Botchan,” Botchan and Porcupine are about ready to break out into fisticuffs in the faculty room—right in front of the other teachers. And, Botchan’s about ready to wrestle Noda to the ground as well. What the heck has the pair so ticked off…? A woman? The students? Or, something far more serious? Find out in the lead-up to the “Meeting Scene!” There’s some wonderful back’n’forth dialog in this scene, that just might have you thinking that Aaron Sorkin grabbed a few style tips from Soseki!
December 20, 2020:
Today, we’ve released the very first portion of our English translation of Soseki’s “Botchan.” This chapter has always been a favorite of Reiko’s, and the text we used as our translation source is the same book she read when in elementary school… it’s been read and re-read so many times, it’s literally falling apart at the seams.
In this chapter, Botchan’s frustration with some of his work colleagues comes to a crest, leaving him a bit exasperated, and quite introspective. As a character, he’s often talking to himself, seeking clarification on things, or being wonderfully witty in ways that quickly prompt laughter. We see a lot of that in this chapter. We hope you enjoy this kick-start, as we roll out Chapter Six in its entirety. Enjoy.
December 17, 2020:
Maplopers! And, now…. the final grab of our Background Notes of “Botchan,” from Natsume Soseki. In Chapter Five, Redshirt and his henchaman Noda set out to confuse Botchan as to who his true allies are at school—a plot that sets him on a collision course with the strong-headed, Porcupine. Don’t miss it. It’s the culmination of a masterful buildup by Soseki that leads us nicely to our English translation of Chapter Six… the real meat of this project! We’ll start dripping out that part of the story very soon. So, stay tuned… same Bat-time. Same Bat-channel!
December 9, 2020:
In today’s episode, Botchan is taking jabs from all sides… both human and non-human alike. The result is a face more closely resembling Mr. Pasty Squash, and an ego in need of some serious repair. Check out the Grasshopper and Battle Cry Incident in our latest Background Notes on Natsume Soseki’s “Botchan.”
December 5, 2020:
Dropped in another Background Notes write-up for our Chapter Six translation of Natsume Soseki’s “Botchan.” This time, we introduce you to the Tempura Noodles and Dango scene—also from Chapter Three!
December 2, 2020:
Added the second Background Notes write-up for our Chapter Six translation of Natsume Soseki’s “Botchan.” Today’s passage from Chapter Three is entitled: The Ikagin Inquisition.
December 1, 2020:
Added the first of our Maplopo Background Notes to the Natsume Soseki “Botchan” translation page. Notes added today are from Chapter Two, and is entitled: Porcupine and Botchan.
November 26, 2020:
Keeping up with the tradition of releasing new calligraphy from Seri Ichiei when new translations pop, we added a new Botchan parallel text card to the parallel text gallery. There are several in there from Botchan now to help with your Japanese or English language learning! You can check them out in the Natsume Soseki author gallery, as well as in the larger, complete parallel text card gallery. Enjoy.
November 24, 2020:
Added a sneak peak of our English translation of Natsume Soseki’s Botchan to the Literary Translations page. Today’s update includes the short bios of the books cast of characters.
November 7, 2020:
Added a gallery of Doc’s photography work.
October 24, 2020:
Posted a new commentary about Kojima Nobuo’s The American School in Japanese on the Reiko’s Write-ups page.
October 15, 2020:
Posted a new essay fom Doc in Doc’s Desk entitled: The Ritual.
October 7, 2020:
Added a draft version of our Maplopo Original, The Rubber Band King of Lopatcong, in Japanese. Keep tabs on it as it comes to life!
October 3, 2020:
Launched the Maplopo News Page. Previous happenings have included the addition of our Japanese to English parallel text gallery with recent entries from: Ogawa Yoko, Natsume Soseki (English / Japanese) translations of Botchan, Murakami Haruki, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, and a ton more.
In prior months we also released our Japanese calligraphy gallery featuring the masterful work of Reiko’s father, Seri Ichei. His work covering Nakajima, Natsume, Dazai, Sakaguchi, Nakanishi, and others is not to be missed.
A tiny video archive also debuted with book trailers and other goodies.
Several new Maplopo Musings have been released with new translations of (Dazai, Sakaguchi and Oda at Bar Lupin, Hayashi Yoshikatsu (photographer of the Bar Lupin shot), modern science fiction writer, Fujii Taiyo), and the biggest news of all is the full release of our entire current Japanese Masters of Story archive (Osamu Dazai, Ango Sakaguchi, Atsushi Nakajima).
We also added the full archive of our Maplopo Reading Circle campaigns, so you can see what you’re signing up for when you sign up for our mailing list.
Things that went away: The Daily Dose (in favor of creating the continually updated parallel text gallery), and the deletion of our Maplopo Twitter account.