How to Japanese Podcast S01E06 – Brian Caster – Reading in Japanese, Self Study, Legal Work in Japan

Brian Caster is a practicing attorney in Japan working in compliance. He’s also one of the most voracious readers I’ve ever met (90+ English books so far in 2019 and counting!). He took some time to tell me about how he learned Japanese, job hunting, and how he brought the goodest dog from Chicago to Tokyo.

At the top I made some translation recommendations, including 夜のくもざる (Yoru no kumozaru, The Spider Monkey Comes at Night) by Haruki Murakami. If you’re looking for public domain material you can publish online, here’s a list of some 随筆 (zuihitsu, miscellanea/essays) that look promising:

Title: 表現論随筆
Author: 豊島与志雄

Title: 押入れ随筆
Author: 吉川英治

Title: 物売りの声
Author: 寺田寅彦

Title: 備忘録
Author: 寺田寅彦

Title: 寺田先生と銀座
Author: 中谷宇吉郎

Title: 京都の朝市
Author: 柳宗悦

Title: 新茶
Author: 岡本かの子

Title: 小学生のとき与へられた教訓
Author: 岡本かの子

Also, I was in the Japan Times a couple weeks back with a look at the podcast and what I learned after talking with everyone: “A podcast that talks to bilingual people about studying Japanese and working in Japan.”

How to Japanese Podcast S01E05 – Arline Lyons – JET Program, Translation Memory, Specializing as a Translator

I met Arline Lyons in 2008-2010 when I was working as a translation project manager. I’ve always been really impressed with her professionalism as a translator, so I wanted to talk to her about her study experience and her translation practice. You can find her recent work on sake at Taste Translation and Discover Sake.

  • What was your overall path to fluency in Japanese?
  • The importance of immersion in learning Japanese
  • What kind of language study did you do while working on JET?
  • What does it take to keep your language skills “alive”?
  • When and how did you become literate in Japanese?
    • Go, Kaneshiro Kazuki
  • How did you decide to get your masters?
  • The world of patent translation
  • What is translation memory and how does it work?
  • Translation groups
  • How and how much time do freelance translators market themselves?
  • What do translators need to pay attention to when adding a new client?
  • What strategies should new translators take when looking for clients?
    • Chris Durbin?
  • Subcontracting, direct clients, and machine translation
  • When and how did you decide to become more specialized as a translator?
  • When you study specialized terminology, do you study the Japanese terms concurrently with the English?

And at the top I talked about some Google search strategies, which I wrote about for the Japan Times back in April 2018.

How to Japanese Podcast S01E04 – Paula Curtis – Graduate Studies, Medieval Japanese, and How to “Do” History

On the podcast this week I talk with Paula Curtis. I learned about Paula through her writing over at What can I do with a B.A. in Japanese Studies? (aka 心配でしょう), which helped me find a Japan-adjacent job after grad school. We talked about language study, grad school, and how to “do” history:

And at the top of the pod I talked about how I learned the phrase なんかの縁. I blogged about way back in 2008.

Tetsuya Ishida – “Self-Portrait of Other”

Wrightwood 659 has a new exhibit of Tetsuya Ishida’s art: “Self-Portrait of Other.” This is the first retrospective exhibition of his work in the United States.

The exhibit comes to Wrightwood from the Reina Sofia in Madrid where curator Teresa Velazquez and organizers were surprised by attendance numbers—350,000 people visited the exhibit.

Once you see Ishida’s paintings, however, his draw isn’t a surprise at all: his images are striking.

Ishida works at the same time in hyperrealist and surrealist modes. His paintings incorporate the vocabulary of everyday Japanese life: textbooks, cardboard boxes, phone booths, lamps, trains, street-corner traffic mirrors, brands of food. As well as uniquely Japanese situations: school desks, school buildings, passed out drunks, generic apartment buildings, gyudon restaurants.

The hyperrealistic pieces make up very clearly surrealistic images, clearly inspired by artists such as Magritte.

There’s clearly a lot of pain in his work, and he seems to have picked out the parts of Japanese society that seem to be “unusual” to outsiders, which isn’t always easy to do as a native. Velasquez calls it his work “stunning testimony of a turbulent decade in Japan—the 90’s.”

In a way, Japan went through the financial crisis 20 years before the U.S. did, and Ishida seems to reflect that—he worked two jobs to stay afloat (security and work at a printmaker) and gained recognition after his death when his work was shown on an NHK program (based on his official site).

This is the fifth exhibit at the Tadao Ando-designed gallery space, which itself is beautiful. Velasquez noted that the simplicity of the gallery helps viewers focus: “the experience of the work [at Wrightwood] is unique, and much more interesting than in Spain. … You concentrate more on the work.”

They are showing 70 of Ishida’s paintings, sketches, and notebooks, a massive selection from the artist who died at age 31 and only produced around 180 works in total.

Wrightwood is also reprising pieces of a past exhibit in a new form on the level below the Ishida exhibit: “Ando: Museums + Galleries.” On display are models of some of Ando’s art museums as well as a scale model of Naoshima.

Wrightwood releases free tickets for the week each Monday, so I recommended getting on their email list. You can also purchase tickets for specific days, if you’re here for a trip. Tickets are for a specific window of time. Wrightwood will also be open for Open House Chicago, but reservations are required.

Based on what I’ve seen at Wrightwood 659 so far, its exhibits are quickly becoming an appointment viewing. They don’t have a permanent collection, so they partner with groups like Reina Sofia, Alphawood Exhibitions, and the Smart Museum to bring in artwork, which gives them great flexibility and division of labor, and the exhibits they have brought in occupy a space between the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. They’ve had everyone from Ai Weiwei, Ando himself, Le Corbusier, contemporary LGBTQ artists, and now Ishida, who seems posed to become a singularly representative Japanese artist from the 1990s.