If you attended the Hyper Japan Christmas Market last year, chances are you may recognise Emily from her translation work throughout the weekends event! Emily is an American currently completing her masters degree in London which features her dissertation in Japanese to English translation. Emily has lived for over two years as an English teacher in Nagoya, Japan and completed a ‘study abroad’ in Osaka. Emily is originally from the East Coast of the United States but spent a year living in Colorado working for a Japan-specialist travel agency.
While Emily is super busy finishing up her masters degree, Emily is also currently working freelance in translation and subtitling with her specific area of expertise within the field of Japanese to English media and video game localisation. How cool does that sound?!
Following on from my recent post covering Japanese study and learning the language, this post adds Emily’s thoughts and tips on how to tackle the Japanese language and discovering what it was like to work with fashion icon MINORI!
It might be hard to believe but I think Emily enjoys Japanese food culture more than I do and I’m always counting down the days until I receive my next snack fix from OyatsuBox! Unlike a normal restaurant where you just order from the menu, Emily enjoys the social aspect of preparing the food herself which also gives her the chance to experience something new, as Emily explains:
“Mister Donut is THE best donut chain in all of the world! I’m obsessed! Well, of course much of Japanese food culture is pretty great, but everyone knows that! In particular, I think “social food” is something quite fun and which I don’t see as much of outside of Japan. This is where you go out in a group and make the food yourself, at the table, it’s all part of the experience. In Japan, you can do this with kushikatsu, shabu shabu, okonomiyaki, nabe, sukiyaki, etc. and it is a fun way to get the conversation going, try new things and eat a lot- since many of these kinds of places offer “tabehoudai” or, all you can eat courses!
Although games arcades have seem to have diminished over the years here in the UK, it’s very much a thriving culture in Japan and one that Emily is especially interested in:
“I am a big fan of video games, so I am particularly interested in Japanese video game culture. In Japan, they still have huge gaming arcades – multi-story ones, even! They are really well maintained and have all the latest games, as well as the classics! Plus, it is a great way to hang out & spend time with friends while exposing yourself to new games. The Japanese online gaming community, while still not as big or present as it is in say, places like North America or South Korea, has the benefit of still being a smaller, closer community, so it is interesting to watch it grow and expand so rapidly over a relatively short period of time.”
Through my own studies of the Japanese language, I have found TV drama’s (such as ‘Good Morning Call’) a huge help in learning new words and using this method as an additional tool to getting to grips with the Japanese language combined with e-learning tools such as ‘Memrise‘. Emily also agrees TV drama’s are a great resource but don’t get too fixated on anime:
“TV dramas can be a really good resource, as they give you an ear for the speed and pattern of natural conversation as well as being generally similar in vocabulary and structure to how most people speak. Generally, not always – it depends on the show of course! This leads me into my next point, while manga/anime can be a good introduction and resource, I would be wary of studying heavily from that, as it tends to be quite unnatural and not always realistic in the vocabulary that is used or the way people speak. It is meant to be dramatic and exciting, so on that same note, it is not always the most realistic way of speaking. Just some food for thought but I’m certainly not dismissing manga and anime as resources as well.”
Last year’s Hyper Japan Christmas Market was Emily’s first time working at the event and she was lucky enough to work with fashion icon, MINORI! It wasn’t just the outfits that impressed her as Emily explains:
“Interpreting at Hyper Japan was the first of that kind and it was such a great experience! It was pretty nerve-wracking at times to be up on stage and speaking to a large crowd but once you get the initial nerves out of the way, it is really a lot of fun! It was really nice to meet all the presenters and learn a bit more about what it is they do and discover their unique talents! MINORI was great! She has a really unique look, but more importantly, her vision is so powerful! She has a story and a concept behind all her outfits and designs that she really puts a lot of thought into. It’s not just about fashion, but also a reflection of her own outlook, philosophy and perception of things, so it was really interesting to learn about that!”
Emily has discovered a lot of fun and hard work that goes into her translating but thrives on a challenge. It’s been a long journey for Emily but I doubt she’d change that for anything:
“The more difficult the task, the more satisfaction I derive from completing it and truly, my core belief is why do anything if it ultimately isn’t making you feel satisfied or fulfilled. For me, translation is the thing that gives me the most satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. The long journey and process from first beginning to learn the language, to that first sense of victory in being able to utilise it in everyday speech and daily life and finally into being able to turn it into a job and career that you are passionate about! That journey has been at times, long and difficult, but being able to work and do what you love is the greatest reward- even if it sometimes means staying up until 3am wracking your brain and struggling with just one really complex paragraph, sentence, or word even!”
If you’re new to the Japanese language (like me), hang on in there, it’ll be worth all the effort and payoff in the long run! A huge thank you to Emily for her time, especially as she’s been so busy with her studies and if you’d like to see Emily’s work in action, check out my below video which was recorded during the ‘Q&A session with MINORI’ at last years Hyper Japan Christmas Market.
Has this article inspired you to research further into the Japanese language or contemplate a career within translation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.