Vocals: Nana Takahashi
Lyrics: Blue E
Arranged by: MasKaleido
Album: 十六夜 -IZAYOI- [Official site]
Event: C91
Original themes: Flowering Night [フラワリングナイト]
Lunar Clock ~ Luna Dial [月時計 ~ ルナ・ダイアル]

Requested by: Kappashiro

The title is ‘PRESERVED VAMPIRE’ but this song seems to be about Sakuya, charting how she began to serve Remilia and her duties. There are a few cases in which the written words have been replaced with similar words when sung, but this translation prioritises the written lyrics.


満ち欠ける影に 崩れた日常が
傾いた空に 揺らめく星たちが
戒めの夜に 狂った現実が
白銀の短剣で 瞬間を貫いた

血塗れの悪魔に 犠牲を捧げる
此の身も 心も 全てを須らく差し出せ

絡み付く憎しみ 記憶を乱され
加速する世界に 取り残された様で
欲張りに罰を 憐れみの旋律を
仮初めの正しさ 瞳を曇らせ
堕落した命は 宵闇に縛られる
狂気に囚われ 仄暗い地下室の中
彷徨うさ Blacked out, Forever

深紅の影に 蠢く妖が
暁の空に 散り逝く花びらが
慰めの夜に 歪んだ幻想が
十六夜の刃で 未来を切り裂いた

冷酷な微笑み 誘う接吻
命も 能力も 全てを須らく投げ出せ

空回る激情 虚しさ募らせ
静止した世界を 独り流離う様で
嘘吐きに罰を 辱めの呪詩を
隙の無い正しさ 答えを迫られ
燃え尽きた希望は 終末に憧れる
刹那に絆され 朝焼けに染まる景色に

刻まれた傷痕 哀しみの過去
迷いも 業も 全てを須らく差し出せ

絡み付く憎しみ 記憶を乱され
加速する世界に 取り残された様で
欲張りに罰を 憐れみの旋律を
仮初めの正しさ 瞳を曇らせ
堕落した命は 宵闇に縛られる
狂気を脱ぎ捨て 朝焼けに染まる景色に
飛び込むさ Break out, Forever


michi kakeru kage ni kuzureta nichijou ga
katamuita sora ni yurameku hoshi-tachi ga
imashime no yoru ni kurutta genjitsu ga
shirogane no naifu de ima wo tsuranuita

chimamire no akuma ni ai wo sasageru
namida ni nureta yume
kono mi mo kokoro mo subete wo subekaraku sashidase

karamitsuku nikushimi kioku wo midasare
kasoku suru sekai ni torinokosareta you de
yokubari ni bachi wo awaremi no senritsu wo
karisome no tadashisa hitomi wo kumorase
daraku shita inochi wa yoiyami ni shiborareru
kyouki ni toraware honogurai chikashitsu no naka
samayou sa Blacked out, Forever

kurenai no kage ni ugomeku ayakashi ga
akatsuki no sora ni chiri yuku hanabira ga
nagusame no yoru ni yuganda gensou ga
izayoi no yaiba de asu wo kirisaita

reikoku na hohoemi sasou kuchidzuke
fukujuu no gishiki ni
inochi mo chikara mo subete wo subekaraku nagedase

kara mawaru gekijou uroshisa tsunorase
teishi shita sekai wo hitori sasurau you de
usotsuki ni bachi wo hazukashime no kotoba wo
suki no nai tadashisa kotae wo semarare
moetsukita nozomi wa shuumatsu ni akogareru
setsuna ni hodosare asayake ni somaru keshiki ni
tobikomu sa

kizamareta kizuato kanashimi no kako
te ni ireta kizuna ni
mayoi mo karuma mo subete wo subekaraku sashidase

karamitsuku nikushimi kioku wo midasare
kasoku suru sekai ni torinokosareta you de
yokubari ni bachi wo awaremi no senritsu wo
karisome no tadashisa hitomi wo kumorase
daraku shita inochi wa yoiyami ni shiborareru
kyouki wo nugi sute asayake ni somaru keshiki ni
tobikomu sa Break out, Forever


Days that crumbled away in the waxing and waning of the shadows,
The stars flickering in the darkened sky,
And reality, gone mad during a night of punishment—
The silver knife pierced through them in an instant.

I offer up love, a sacrifice to the bloodstained demon.
This bad dream was soaked with tears.
I must offer my body and my spirit—everything.

The hatred twined around me disturbs my memories.
It’s like I’ve been left behind in an accelerating world.
I punish the greedy, playing a melody of pity.
Transient righteousness clouds my eyes
And my depraved life is tied to twilight.
Imprisoned by insanity in a gloomy cellar
I wander around. Blacked out, forever.

The youkai writhing in the scarlet shadows,
The petals scattering in the dawning sky,
And the twisted illusion in the night of diversion—
Their future was cut by the blade of Izayoi. (1)

She smiled cruelly, and a kiss lured me in.
Through this ceremony of obedience,
I must give my life and my abilities—everything.

My passion was in vain. My emptiness grows stronger…
It’s like I’m roaming in a still world.
I punish liars, chanting curses of shame.
My faultless righteousness is pressed for answers
And my burnt-up hope longs for the end.
Moved for an instant, I will dive right into this landscape
Dyed by the sunrise.

I bear scars from my sorrowful past.
To the bond I formed,
I must present my doubt and my karma—everything.

The hatred twined around me disturbs my memories.
It’s like I’ve been left behind in an accelerating world.
I punish the greedy, playing a melody of pity.
Transient righteousness clouds my eyes
And my depraved life is tied to twilight.
I will cast away my insanity and dive right into this landscape
Dyed by the sunrise. Break out, forever.

Translator’s note

(1) Izayoi (十六夜, the sixteenth night) has been left untranslated as it is likely that this is in fact referring to Sakuya Izayoi herself.


  1. こんにちは。この翻訳を使っている動画で、指摘のコメントを残したのですが、このサイトから引用されているということでここにコピペ(+ちょい足し)しておきます。図々しいようですいません。

    English Translation has some faults.
    0:29 揺らめく isn’t really “flickering”. It’s more, “wavering”. Both have a nuance of instability, but flickering is more instant and rapid (flickering lights), whereas “wavering” is more slow and wave-like. (flickeringだとチカチカする~)
    0:29 Same line, 傾いた空 does mean “darkened sky”, but it’s not how it’s said. The “sunken skies”, or something that depicts deviation from its original angle (tilt/lean/whatever) would be more appropriate.(暗き空と沈んだ空、沈んだ空のほうが傾いた空に近い気がします)
    0:32 戒め isn’t just a punishment, it’s also a lesson to prevent future incidents – so something like “monition” would fit all the context here.(monitionは宗教的忠告な意味も入っているので、戒めに合うかなと)
    0:35 白銀 isn’t silver. It’s platinum, or “whitened silver”
    0:35 瞬間を貫いた isn’t to “pierce in an instant”, it’s to “pierce the moment” itself. You misread the context here. (“in an instant” と書いてしまうと、”(この)瞬間に貫く”になってしまう)
    0:41 There is no “love” mentioned in the original. There’s merely a sacrificial offering. To add, maybe “devil” would be better than “demon”?
    0:44 Since there’s no この(This) preceding the 凶夢(nightmare), replace “This” at the start with “A” (A nightmare soaked with tears)
    0:59 There is no pronoun “I” implied here, it’s more of a general statement. 欲張りに罰を just means “Punishment to the greed!” 欲張り is greed, and 欲張り者 is the greedy, not the same.
    0:59 Same line, no one’s playing the melody here, it’s a general statement. It just means “A melody of pity!”
    1:03 Awkwardly phrased, Add “A” or “The” at the start, and add a comma after the “righteousness” – since there’s a space in the original. If you want to be poetic, it can be said that it’s “Righteousness, in brevity” or something. Just my personal preference.
    1:06 Instead of “tied”, use “bound”. It sounds nicer. (tiedは物理的の意味合いが強いのですが boundだと、呪縛的な、見えないなにかに拘束されるも入っているので)
    1:10 There’s an implied pause/transition after 囚われ, so add a comma
    1:14 “I’ll wander around” is lacking as an exclamation, compared to the singer’s ardent one. Just a simple “I’ll wander!” would be the same degree of exclamation.
    1:28 Careful with the colors. 朱is scarlet, and 紅is crimson. What’s used here isn’t scarlet. Also, “writhing” is a movement, so you have to say where the youkai is writhing to. Where is it writhing to? It’s “writhing about”. Full phrase would be “The youkai writhing about in the crimson shadows”.
    1:30 散り逝く isn’t really common and is difficult, but it’s certainly not just “scattering”, it’s “scattering and dying”, so I think “withering” would be concise and fitting.
    1:33 慰めis not diversion. Diversion is something you distract yourself with to forget the sorrows, 慰めis “consolation”.(diversionだと目を逸らすみたいな意味)
    1:35 “With the blade of Izayoi, the futures ahead were cut apart”. Maybe keep the order of the original phrase when you can (don’t always inverse it). Also – 切り裂いたisn’t just cut, it’s cut apart.
    1:39 There are NO implied pronouns. It’s just “A cruel/cold-blooded smile, an alluring kiss”.
    1:45 服従is much more stronger than just “obedience”, it’s “submission”.(忠誠・服従)
    1:53 It’s karamawaru, not soramawaru. You also don’t need the “was”. Just put “My passion, in vain/for naught”
    1:56 静止isn’t just “still”, there’s also quietness involved. I would use the expression “in a bestilled world”. Also, write “roaming about”, and add a comma in-between the middle
    2:00 Same mistake as 0:59. “Punishment to the lies!” / “Curses of shame/defamation!”
    2:04 Replace “is” with a comma
    2:12 Don’t inverse the chain of words, it’s the climax! Bit poetic, but I would use “Into this landscape painted with (the glows of) sunrise/I’ll dive!”(最後に動詞を書いたほうがかっこいい)
    2:39 Here too, don’t inverse. “Engraved scars, from a/a sorrowful past”

    The meaning is generally conveyed but then the you make the common mistake of translating to English, using daily English used in conversations and not appropriate for certain song lyrics. I would suggest to whoever translated this to double-check with dictionaries, and more importantly, play the song with your translation to see if your phrases harbors the same kind of emotion you feel when the singer is singing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Thank you for your comment, and for your suggestions. I appreciate it, and love hearing from people! (^_^) I am pleased to inform you that I complete all of my translations referring to both a J –> E and a J -> J dictionary. Listening to the song also forms a key part of my translation ritual, both while I translate and while I check the romanisation. I make honest mistakes, but am able to justify every line I translate, even when my interpretation turns out to be mistaken.

      My personal translation style is to stick closely to the cues given in the original text, and then make alterations to better suit the target audience. This approach has evolved over time, which is particularly relevant here given that the translation was from almost two years ago. However, I’m able to justify all of my translation choices, and I am not convinced that significant changes need to be made here. When I change the order of sentences, and when I add pronouns in, I do it for my audience. Yes, I may lose out on some poetic beauty, but for me poetic beauty is always secondary since these translations can’t be sung alongside the original anyway.

      Firstly, thank you for letting me know about my romanisation error. 空回る now has the correct romanisation.

      I will address some of the points you raised here, and justify why I chose to translate the text in the way I did.

      揺らめく – In this case, my J -> E dictionary informed me that both flickering and swaying are contained in 揺らめく. My decision to use ‘flickering’ was based on my own experience with the English language. It’s unnatural to say that stars ‘waver’ in the night sky.

      傾いた空 – I can’t imagine 沈んだ空 in my head. Does this mean the sky is close to the ground? Does it mean there’s a mist of some sort?

      戒め – This is personal preference, but I think ‘punishment’ fits perfectly fine here. When you punish a person, you do it because they’ve done something wrong, and you don’t want them to do it again. Furthermore, ‘monition’ (see is more about warning someone of something that will come.

      白銀 – This would be platinum if it was pronounced はっきん. My J -> E dictionary does not list ‘platinum’ as a translation, and my J -> J dictionary says thatしろがね specifically refers to ‘silver’ (銀). For an online reference, see白銀-600152.

      瞬間を貫いた – I interpreted をas showing ‘when’ something takes place, e.g. 動作・作用の行われる時間・期間を表す。(seeを-666108#E5.A4.A7.E8.BE.9E.E6.9E.97.20.E7.AC.AC.E4.B8.89.E7.89.88). I did consider ‘pierce the moment’, but I decided against it because I can’t picture that in my mind, and I’ve never read that phrase anywhere. What does it mean?

      ‘Love’ – ‘Love’ (あい) is sung in place of 犠牲(ぎせい). In this case, I decided to combine the two in the one sentence to preserve both meanings.

      朱 and 紅 – I chose scarlet to stick closer to terminology used in the official games. ZUN’s english title for 東方紅魔郷(the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil) implies that other instances of 紅 should also be interpreted as Scarlet where Remilia is concerned.

      ‘Writhing about’ – I don’t need to add ‘about’ to writhing (for example, see the famous pop song “rolling in the deep”).

      散り逝く – If we go with wither, we then lose the connotation that the flowers have scattered. Using ‘scatter’ gives us the idea that the flowers have already withered. After all, healthy petals don’t scatter.

      慰め – When you console someone, you distract them and make them forget their sorrows.

      服従 – Though ‘obedience’ and ‘submission’ are different, my J -> J dictionary offers the following definition: 他人の命令や意志にそのまま従うこと。

      静止 – When something is still, it’s quiet.

      Given that there are so many differences in our interpretations, I think it would be great if you could publish your own translation of this song – I think reading your translation would give me greater insight into the points you raised in your comment, and it would bring us closer to unlocking the full meaning of the song. I look forward to reading it 🙂 I would also appreciate any recommendations for good J – J dictionaries. A better dictionary will help me become a better translator…!

      Thank you once again! I hope you have a great day (^_^)


      1. Thank you for replying, I love discussions like these.

        First off, I see that our principles when it comes to translating differ slightly – in my view, you rely on dictionaries as a common basis for the audience and everyone involved to agree on a common meaning. If this is correct, then I would have to agree with you that it is the prerequisite for language in the first place. I also double-check with dictionaries (most of the time. I can get lazy sometimes) but I’m afraid there’s a nuance that isn’t mentioned entirely in the definitions, and can be better read from reading sample examples, but even that isn’t enough sometimes.

        The “feeling” you get when I read a sentence, is how I establish my common ground between two languages. This is supported by dictionaries, but it isn’t my Bible. It is bound to make me biased, yes, but I believe rhythm and beauty should be at least attempted (in which the latter is purely subjective) – so it’s pleasant to read. If you were just going for accuracy, then you could just do a detailed explanation, analysis or whatever.

        I’ll tell you what I mean.

        Since I don’t play Touhou (yeah there are people who love their songs but not the games :P) I am sorry for pointing out technicalities that were supposed to be like that – I also skimmed through the listening a bit as well.

        傾いた空に 揺らめく星たちが
        “Within the tilted skies, the wavering stars -”

        This works, because the word “skies” is synonymous to the “azures”. A sunken or tilted sky merely means that the bright blue has fallen beyond the horizon. Also, if you use “darkened” – it would be disloyal to the original text, even if you implicitly know the meaning.

        The stars do flicker, yes, but that sudden movement isn’t really felt in 揺らめく. You can have a million alternatives like かがやく or きらめく or something crazy like 光り咲く(no such word exists). Also, the word 揺らめく sounds like ゆらゆらと, ゆらり、ゆらり – and they are very gentle sounds. I just googled it and it apparently means the same thing. Oh well.

        As for 戒め、technically speaking – it’s to reprimand someone to prevent him/her for repeating an offense. That “prevention” nuance is lost in the word “punishment”. Synonyms in Japanese are “(自分をー)引き締める” or ”(他人にー)見せしめる”. I chose “monition” because of the religious feeling I felt in the song, and it was used as a word in a religious context accordingly. But yes, I do agree there can be a better alternative.

        But here’s where you’re plain wrong, unfortunately. 瞬間を貫いた under NO circumstances does it mean “pierce in the moment”. That equivalent would be “瞬間に貫いた” but it’s awkwardly phrased. ーを貫いた。何を貫いているのか?瞬間を貫いている。Piercing. What is it piercing? It’s piercing the moment. -> Pierce the moment.

        If it’s a question of “when”: いつ貫いているのか?ある時に貫くー>瞬間に貫く。When is it piercing? It’s piercing in/at a specific time. It’s piercing in the moment.

        散り逝く. Judging by your explanation, the author merely needs to mention that it has scattered right? Same could be said for Japanese – why doesn’t the author just say “散る”?Because he/she specifically wanted to allude to death. But you’re right, since there is an indicated movement in the present tense (逝く) so it’d suffice to modify to: “twirl and wither”.

        The above example is the prime example where you can see your biases come from, even if you decided to stay technical and loyal to the definition. You never question the choice of words, and don’t try to confuse it with another word, even if it’s similar. A common example that you may find ridiculous, is people confusing 分かった and 知った. They’re both “know”, right? Not really.

        For 慰め – I don’t get your justification here. You just pointed out the definition of console. “Divert” or “distract” doesn’t convey the grave empathy of 慰める, it’s light-hearted and is more akin to 気を晴らす or 気を紛らす.

        服従 is technically “obedience”, but then again “obedience” does NOT contain the full extent of the meaning. In a song where the lyrics are something like 身も心もー would you really, really think that she’s saying something like “I’ll obey you”? I would think it’s more “I’ll submit to you”. I mean, even titles are translated this way:

        静止 Same problem as 散り逝く. You can’t “assume” things, this isn’t a logic game. “If it’s still, it’s quiet”… that logic only applies when the “something” is the sound – but that’s not the main problem here.

        In a still world -> 止まった・動じない世界で
        In a bestilled world -> 静止した・静まり返った世界で

        You have to keep the past participle. Anything works, like “quietened”.

        There isn’t a “better dictionary”. When you reference something, you have to check with a lot of sources, and if you really want a definition to that it would be “Every source, until you feel like you understand”. Hell, even seemingly unreliable places like Yahoo answers can clarify you how it’s generally used (ofc don’t use just that).

        It’s a draft, but here:

        The morphing shadows, crumbled days within,
        Among the tilted skies, are the wavering stars,
        In a night of punishment, is a maddened reality – All,
        With daggers of silver, pierced the moment

        To a bloodied devil, I offer a sacrifice of love
        O this nightmare befallen with tears,
        This body, this spirit, all, is to be offered!

        A twined hatred, swirls my memories
        As if I, in an accelerating world, was left alone.
        Punishment to greed – A melody of pity.
        Clouds my eyes, this righteousness in brevity,
        This depraved life, is bound to the gloom of dusk.
        Confined by insanity, within a dimly cell beneath,
        I’ll wander! Blacked out, Forever

        The sanguine shadows, writhing youkai within,
        Among the dawning skies, are the withering petals,
        In a night of solace, is a distorted illusion – All,
        With the blade of Izayoi, slashed the future

        Oh, her coldhearted smile, her alluring kiss
        In this ritual of submission
        This life, these powers, all, is to be given!

        All this passion for naught, breeds my emptiness
        As if I, in a bestilled world, roamed in solitude.
        Punishment to lies – A chant of shame!
        This right, with no wrong, presses for answers
        The burned out hopes, longs for a finality
        Seized by the moment, into this sight dyed by sunrise
        I’ll dive! Break out, Forever

        The engraved scars, the past of sorrow
        To this bond I’ve acquired,
        The doubts, the karma, all, is to be given!

        A twined hatred, swirls my memories
        As if I, in an accelerating world, was left alone.
        Punishment to greed – A melody of pity.
        This right, with no wrong, clouds my eyes,
        This depraved life, is bound to the gloom of dusk.
        I’ll cast away my madness, and into this sight dyed by sunrise
        I’ll dive! Break out, Forever


        1. Hi FIRINGSNIPER,

          First I wanted to thank you for starting this conversation, I read it with great interest. I am a simple fan of the Touhou franchise, I have never played the game either. I am writing to contribute some support to Releska’s work in the light of your criticism.

          I would like to point out that the mode of your comments is overwhelmingly imperative, as if there exists an ‘ideal’ version of a translated version of an original poem in every language. As if writing an original poem, which is an act of artistic freedom in one language, creates automatically semantic and artistic constraints for other languages. I think that all languages have their own constraints and their own artistic liberties.

          I do not and cannot disagree with any of your remarks, I believe they are very useful in the stage of creating the literary translation. You are right to insisting on cross referencing between different dictionaries and other reference materials. Eventually it would be desirable that the translated song does to its audience something as close as possible to what the original song does to its audience. It is a highly demanding task. And here are no rules like there were no rules for writing the original song. Like one poet cannot tell another poet what is the ‘correct’ way to write poetry and simply writes another poem, the same way one translator cannot tell another translator what is the ‘correct’ way to translate poetry and simply creates another version of the translation. Let the editors, the audience and the critics decide, which translation works and which does not.

          Not every text is a poem. It is foremost important that the translated poem is also perceived as a poem by its audience, however ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ it might be.


          1. Hello,

            I’ve since quit translating, but I hope my opinion is still of interest to you.

            I would feel entirely comfortable agreeing with your point if we were talking about an adaptation or an original work on its own. If I was criticizing that in the way I did, it would feel irrelevant to what’s trying to be achieved, and I would be transgressing into the author’s subjective, where only the author himself would only know if something is right or wrong.

            However I believe that translation is a much more academic process as much as it is an artistic one, and it’s reasonable for it to be subject to scrutiny since it is easier for it to be so – you’re directly referencing the original author’s work – you play by their artistic rules and not your own. Now, it’s true in saying that we all perceive their artistic rules differently, but it was never the goal to diversify these perceptions for the sake of individuality, it’s not about you in the first place. It’s comparable to you drawing an apple from life, compared to you drawing your own apple. They’re different endeavours, and they both have their place in their respective category.

            You’re right in saying that to shove a suggestion down their throat is infringing on their creation, which technically, I can never know if it was right or wrong in the author’s eyes. Only you can know, thus admit, when you are right or wrong in your view. But the interesting thing about art in general is that there is an interplay between the subjective and the objective. The degree of “responsibility” that comes with art is proportional to how “objective” (or academic) you are claiming to be. If you self-publish a novel, there’s really only you at stake. If you publish a scientific essay, you are held accountable.

            It’s true that the line is really blurry when it comes to translation (hence why I would love it if it was the norm to distinguish between translations and adaptations) but it’s nevertheless undeniable that you are taking on the voice of the original author, while you aren’t really present at all. When I say, “I’ve adapted this work”, you are much less invisible than if you have said “I’ve translated this work”. You don’t care as much for the “individuality of the translator” when you look at the movie subtitles or similar. You would care a lot more if it was “an original work, based on this work..”

            As for my criticism, some of the errors I’ve pointed out were flat out grammar errors, or omissions that were criminally liberal, or picking up on nuances that were lost in the translation. I’ve seen these so many times and this song’s translation happened to be the one that got on my nerve that day. The translator may convince themselves their artistic freedom is allowed (which I’ve seen being used as an excuse for a simple lack of effort, but that’s another assumption I can’t be sure of unless they admit to it themselves) but the audience still goes in expecting the original author’s work, and no one else’s. They don’t care if it was person A, or person B, that did the subtitles for this song or that song. You know that, because there would be an entirely difference audience waiting for you if you would have just changed the keyword into “adaptation” or something. If it was an adaptation, then I would be criticizing this again, saying it doesn’t deviate for it to be interesting as an original: if it was translated back into Japanese I would be reading the same text, but worse.

            I’m pretty jaded on this I do admit, there are only few who can hold translators accountable since it’s not a developed field, it’s unpaid, it’s a hobby with less passion than professional work. When I see works like this, titled as “translations” but hiding behind the leeway that “adaptations” give them when Japanese is too hard or English is too hard.. and when I see the audience gobble it up as if it was a loyal translation that, despite the constraints, was made with an honest effort to be responsible as an ambassador of sorts for the original author.. all I see is a tragic misunderstanding.

            I would feel confused and betrayed if I was the original author, appreciated for something too different than what I have made. That’s what happens with movies, novels and songs all the time when one does a horrible translation. As the original author I can understand if there was leeway to be had with artistic freedom when you openly declare so, (e.g. I’m going to adapt/parody this) and I can appreciate an honest effort to stick true to what I’ve made with a translation. But you can’t have both, you would be infringing on the original author’s artistic integrity.

            And just so you know, I didn’t paste my own take on it as a forced suggestion. I pasted it because I was asked to, which I assume he would decide if it works for his own sake. I’m not deciding anything.


            1. Thank you for your very thorough and thoughtful answer.

              I still hold the position that translation is a form of creative art along with poetry, literature, drama, music etc. Like in music, not only the composer and the lyrics’ writer are the artists, the instrumentalist and the singer are equally artists. And an artist has the full right to set him or herself any rules he or she considers right. If every translator would follow the rules you have set to yourself then there will be much more good and much less not so good translations. Here, believe me, I am fully in your camp. I also understand that the original work adds an extra set of constrictions to a translator, but the creation of originals is not without constrictions either. Being an architect I have observed many times that when the landscape or the configuration of the borders of the piece of land are very difficult then the architectural design will be interesting and beautiful. The architect ‘translates’ the landscape in his design. I agree that this ‘translation’ is only then good when the landscape is still recognisable, still the same landscape as before the construction works. Sorry for this comparison, I fully realise that this is only a far analogy to translation of poetry, these are different things.

              It was not the content of your comment that I objected to but the imperative tone that sounded through it. Now I understand where it came from and it is absolutely fine to me, I do not have any more objections. Looking at it in my framework of a translator as an artist, your reaction as a translator to the work of another translator was very typical to how one artist criticises another artist. Because artists do not compromise easily. Artists do not compromise with themselves and do not compromise with others. If you were an editor, not another translator, then your tone would have been less imperative, I think. And, again, the things you said at that moment of frustration with “tragic misunderstanding”, all these things were valuable and important.

              Whether a poem is recognisable or not is a tricky question. Mostly, in my view, because it is another ‘artistic’ question that is impossible to determine beforehand. Here you mentioned the best criterion I can imagine: will the author of the original recognise the translation as his or her work or not? At the same time I have encountered situations when authors interfere with translations on base of superficial characteristics of language, for example preferring a more literary translation whereas most of the original flavour is lost. And here comes another important, but paradoxical criterion: how do these people judge the translation who do not need it at all? People, who read in the original language at the same high level of proficiency as in the language of the translated poem. They are more able to judge quality of translation than an author whose knowledge in other languages is poor. It seems to me that you would be a perfect candidate because, being a Japanese, as I understood, your English is just beautiful. (I am sorry for my much poorer English, this not my native language, but most of the Japanese literature I have read is through English translations).

              As a person who observes and enjoys Japanese (mostly digital popular) culture through other languages, I hope very much that the quality of translations will improve. And when something goes ‘wrong’ then it is a part of the natural process, no need to get too sad about it.

              Have you published elsewhere about the matters of translation and literature? I would be grateful if you shared your work. My contacts can be easily found by Googling my name.


              1. Hello,

                Sorry for the late reply.

                You are right in what I understood to be your implication, I seem to not give the people the benefit of the doubt or trust them to have their idea of integrity. This makes me infer that this displays how I treat myself more than anything. For me to reflect on myself, there’s no (or much less) doubt to be had, since the distance one would have with another person isn’t there. There is no issue with being confidently critical there, since that’s the best way to bring out the part of you that knows you’re in the wrong, when you seem to get ahead of yourself.

                If I were to get personal, I would say it seems to work with me: I get arrogant pretty fast and I am optimistic at heart, and if I don’t punch it down it seems to grow to a level of delusion. I give myself the harshest criticisms and there is always a part of me that shrugs it off. This all amplifies for the better, or for worse when it comes to translations. I’ve never met anyone more proficient at these two languages than myself, and I could only hope for someone who’d be an aspiration. Compared to where I’m at, JP->EN translations is a field that is “young” if said in a positive light, “niche” if said in a negative one. The technical aspect of it is the mere interest of many at this stage of the “natural process”. There’s no criticising about it too, perfect technique is the prerequisite to free exploring. However it feels lonely to find few to none care about the tone, the style, and everything else implicit or unique to the author.

                This is largely why I’ve since stopped endeavouring for song translations. I’d like to think I’m not one without heart, and I do feel like a nuisance when what I’ve said discourages others, more than it serves to encourage. I found myself growing more and more bitter even looking at others’ translations, and the presumed guilt in giving them criticism for innocently spreading something wrong in my eyes, grew the same. On the other hand, my own translations I was fine about. At a certain point the natural drive to make it better wasn’t there, and I was fine with it being just fine. There are a lot of theories or aspects to explore, like “What does the audience want”, “What’s the authenticity of the author”, “How should it be appreciated” etc. that could certainly give me more to work with. I mean, that’s how it never ends, the goalpost always seems to move forward when you’re just close enough. But all in all, I didn’t feel too accomplished being a “teacher” of sorts, and I didn’t find it in me to do it for my sake: mainly because I struggled to consistently feel qualified to take on the author’s voice, especially without their acknowledgement that I’m translating their work.

                I’ve moved on to a medium where things are more self-evident, and where I have way more rivals than before (drawing). It’s the best feeling to have only yourself to blame, and there’s no guilt attached anywhere like I feel with translations. My English and Japanese bizarrely comes in handy when I critique my artwork too, so that’s a plus.

                The more involved people are in an artwork, the more complicated and directionless it seems to be for me. I don’t know how movie directors (or you, an architect) do it. Maybe succumbing to the audience’s wishes is a bad idea in that regard – when you put it out there for others to see, the artwork “isn’t yours” anymore in the sense that it goes everywhere in terms of interpretations and opinions – I discovered how making your artwork look “presentable” (recognisable) is a different endeavour than making your artwork “please the masses”. I can feel how the latter is wholly unnecessary more and more recently. But nevertheless, there’s too much guilt felt for me in being a judge to decide what the endeavour should be in translations and besides, it’s a question that will be ignored by many for a long, long time (in this specific field) as the basics aren’t even grasped yet.

                You being someone who I imagine to be an accomplished architect, I’d say the songs I chose to translate have themes that seem elementary or childish as I’m much younger than you. I say this because over the years these songs have grown from something that I seriously enjoyed into something that is nostalgic, as well as a guilty pleasure. But if you still want to have a look at it, maybe just for its translation process, the pleasure is mine.


                I’m still pretty satisfied by what I did with the songs “1LDK” by Reol, “With a Dance Number”, and maybe “Ten to One” by Reol. The others seem crude to me.

                By the way, my answer is a bit disorganised. I’ve been busier and busier and haven’t gotten the time to unwind to have a clear head. Apologies.


                1. Hi,

                  As much as I know from my Japanese friends of my friends, there is the increasing pressure on the productivity of working people in Japan, similar to the same tendency in Europe and America. It is the main reason of the general frustration in society, I think. People are not given chance to relax, to sort out their thoughts and feelings in quiet. Please feel free to answer any time it suits you, I do not want my conversations to burden anybody.

                  I would like to say one more thing about the translation of literature and poetry. I think the translator does a good job when it performs a similar task to the task that the author of the original set to him- or herself. If the intention of the original author was to please the audience then the translation would benefit from the same disposition. If the author ‘does not care’ about the audience and how much readers are pleased or displeased, then I think the translator would benefit from taking the same stance. When I was talking about the experts who are able to judge how close the translation is to the original, then the main criterion cannot be how pleased these readers are, the criterion is how similar is the perception of the translation in comparison to the perception of the original.

                  I am myself a practising art and architecture critic, for various reasons I do not do any architectural design anymore. Some of the reasons are to do with the credit crunch of 2008 and the consequent restructuring of the markets, some are connected to health issues. As a restoration architect I specialised in research, design and repair of wooden houses mid 19th – mid 20th century. The very act of restoration is translation of an old building into a restored one. A building is a moving target because it ages like humans do. To repair a house that is 50 years old is a different task from repairing the same house when it is 100 years old. The end results of both cases must be different responding to the natural ageing of the building. Translating a work of architecture or a work of art into simple description is not a simple task. Precise description is impossible because the mediums themselves are so different. At the same time it is possible to express all possible human experience, thoughts and feelings into words, or, at least, to indicate at them verbally. This gives me optimism for art criticism and translation. When good writers and poets write about art it sounds true to me. I try to say what the thing is and what it does and to avoid such generic adjectives like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ because these do not carry any information about the thing but about the person who is saying these words about the thing.

                  Are you familiar with these journals?


                  The writers, poets, translators who follow these in Twitter are a vibrant and friendly global community.

                  I am grateful for the links of your own work. I will write you another letter when I absorb their content.

                  I wish you good luck and fluid inspiration in your artistic work, both in image and word!


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