I was honored to serve as Master of Ceremonies for the Asia Dry Eye Society (ADES) Summit 2016 held in Xiamen (southern China) last fall. MDK Translations has been translating, editing, and taking meeting minutes for members of the ADES for several years now. Although the depth of discussions was frequently over my head, I was familiar enough with the terminology to keep up with the pace. And as a sufferer of dry eye, I do not take the condition lightly! The experience of facilitating two full days of meetings and speeches reminded me of how nice it is to work with others (rather than hiding behind a PC screen all day). I aim to polish my facilitation skills in hopes of more opportunities like this. I must add…being a fairly noticeable foreigner with zero grasp of the local language served as a valuable reminder of how a few memorized greetings can help make friends and show respect for the country you are visiting.
Photo: With Medi Produce President and amazing colleagues
A while back I had the honor of speaking for a group of ladies at the Kamakura YMCA who fancy English and the opportunity to improve their listening and speaking skills. They asked me to prepare a presentation about omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) from the non-Japanese perspective. I had a great time researching the topic and trying to come up images and descriptions with what I consider the true meaning of this now trendy term. I think part of the reason Japan works so well and is such a wonderful place to live and visit is the effort everyone makes to please and assist others, all part of omotenashi. And the vision of a woman swishing down a narrow hallway in a chic kimono, tray of tea and sweets in hand, melts my heart. And don’t get me started on how polite and helpful one finds the staff at a Japanese MacDonald’s. That said, it drives me nuts when the waitress literally runs when I ask for a bit of ketchup, or bows and apologies rather aggressively when they don’t have any ketchup!
In the end, this wonderful group of English fans taught me that, until Christel Takigawa and the Japanese Olympic bid made the term omotenashi nearly ubiquitous, it was never a topic of discussion. Omotenashi was, and still is, the little things you do quite naturally to make sure your guest (be it a visitor to your home or a customer in your shop) feel comfortable and well-taken care of.
Made it to the Tokyo International Book Fair just in time to hear a friendly chat between Michael Emmerich and Koji Toko. The banter focused on 世界文学と日本文学 (world literature and Japanese literature) and was peppered with much laughter and unique anecdotes. (Such as a comparison of becoming a translator unintentionally, just as one mistakenly steps in dog doo!) I disagree with Michael’s comment that one cannot make a living as a translator, but this is probably the difference of being a commercial translator, a mere 翻訳者, and a literary translator, more often honored with the label of 翻訳家.
Check out Marian’s article in the 通訳翻訳ジャーナル 2015夏号 for hints on working as an independent translator while collaborating with other translators, interpreters and related professionals to build your business and offer clients comprehensive services. The article appears in the “JAT Column” of the Tsuyaku Honyaku Journal, a quarterly publication for translators and interpreters. Available at Amazon and bookstores in Japan http://tinyurl.com/oqlvamo
Marian’s Radio Debut!
Marian was interviewed by famed DJ Guy Perryman at the posh Alfred Dunhill Café in the swanky Ginza area of Tokyo a few weeks ago. Guy asked Marian all about the Japan Association of Translators (JAT) and its history, upcoming JAT events, and the translation/interpreting profession in general. The interview was broadcast on April 12 and interspersed with British pop music and fun banter between Guy and his on-air counterpart, Madoka Kato, for the London Hit Radio show (InterFM).