Translating Classical Japanese Literature for a Younger Audience: Ueda Akinari's Ugetsu Monogatari

  • Alexander Anaya-Paiero


In translating “Asaji ga Yado”, a short story from the classical text Ugetsu Monogatari (1776), I was motivated to adapt an oft-ignored text from the Japanese canon for a young, modern Western reading audience in order to reject the dominance of works from the Western cultural canon that exists in folktale adaptation for children. In setting out to do this, the principal objective was to create an accessible translation and, in order to achieve this goal, an appropriation of stylistic techniques from the Western children’s literature tradition would be crucial. My initial translation approach involved extreme faithful to the original text coupled with foreignization to retain as much of the source’s uniqueness as possible. However, numerous difficulties arose while attempting to bridge the inclusion of children’s literature techniques with the maintenance of faithfulness. For this reason, my approach shifted to one more in line with an abusive, or flexible, translation that allowed the freedom to modify the text to fit within the framework of children’s literature. Thus, though my translation preserves the core of the source, it contains modifications and additions that aid in accessibility that, ultimately, enrich the intended audience’s reading. My translator’s note details many of my stylistic choices and clarifies the reasoning for choosing particular effects in the translation.