What is Translation? Reading “The Giving Tree” and think about what is translating a story.

Hello everyone. I’m a high school English teacher, and sometimes I have an opportunity to have a class for people who are not high school students. It is like a open school kind of thing. Since I live in a small town, some town’s people who wants to study something at a night class in my high school sometimes come and take a class this season. In this time, I hold a class of “the art of translation”. Of course I’m not a professional translator though, there are some people who really love to hear something they don’t even know.

So, what is translation then? I read a book written by a pro-translator and she said “becoming some other people or thing” is a translation. A translator needs to be a J.K. Rowling, and should see the world of the magic. Have a relationship with a person in the world of 200 years ago. Anyway, we need an imagination. Translating is providing an interpretation. Original material is just one, but there are so many interpretations. Original will not be faded, but translation will do fade. Suggesting that I interpreted this story like this is a translation, and to do a better translation, we ought to read materials deeper. Translator is firstly a reader anyway.

Anyway, the most of them are second hand information of a professional translators. Then, I set an assignment for them to translate, a kind of picture book, “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. The story is very simple though, it has been loved by so many people around the world. The translator of a Japanese version, Haruki Murakami leave a message on the last page, and he says that everyone should read this book again and again, for this is a kind of mirror in a nature that reflect yourself.

The story is really simple. There are a boy and a tree and they loved each other. However, as the boy grew older, he began to say that he wants money or wants to build a house. Every time he says such things, the tree give him apples to make money, and trunks to build a house. And lastly, the tree became a stump. Then, the boy who became really old came to visit the stump. The tree disappointed with the fact that she can’t give anything, but the man says “I don’t need anything” or like that. Then, he sit down on the stump. The tree felt happy to be sit, and the man felt happy because he could rest on it. This is a brief summary.

To be honest, I felt really sad reading the story. Many people would read a mother in the tree, and I feel so sad to wonder how much things I have taken away from her. However, if I became a father, maybe such kind of interpretation could change.

It is allowed to have a various interpretation. There is no only one answer. This is why I like literature. Sometimes this kind pf person is thought to be a very lazy guy though, please enjoy some literature in this season.

Thank you for reading!

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Real Good Japanese Song: English Translation for “怪獣の花唄(Kaijyu no Hanauta)” by Vaundy and Analysis on the Song Lyrics

Music Video of “Kaijyu No Hanauta” by Vaundy

Hello everyone. Today, I’d like to introduce a song which is very fresh and trendy in today’s Japanese music scene. The artist name is “Vaundy”, who is a university student but thought to be a great and very talented musician. I haven’t heard his songs that much, but a month ago, one of my students used a song called “怪獣の花唄(Kaijyu No Hanauta)” in a school festival and I was very impressed with the song’s beautiful and emotional melody line. So, today, I’d like to make an original translation for this great song, and try to analyze the song’s message.

My English Translation Lyrics of “Kaijyu No Hanauta” by Vaundy

思い出すのは君の歌 (omoidasunowa kiminouta)
What I recall is your song
会話よりも鮮明だ(kaiwa yorimo senmeida)
It’s more vivid than conversations
どこに行ってしまったの(dokoni itte shimattano)
Where have you gone?
いつも探すんだよ(itsumo sagasundayo)
I’m always trying to find

思い出すのは君の歌(omoidasunowa kiminouta)
What I remember is your song
歌い笑う顔が鮮明だ(utaiwaraukaoga senmeida)
A face of singing and smiling is so vivid
君に似合うんだよ(kimini niaundayo)
It just suits you
ずっと見ていたいよ(zutto miteitaiyo)
I want to see it forever

でも最後に見たいのは (demo saigo ni mitainowa)
But what I want to see for the last
きっともう君の夢の中 (kitto mou kimino yumenonaka)
Is perhaps in your dream
もう一度(mouichido)
Once again
また聞かせてくれよ (mata kikasete kureyo)
Please let me listen to again
聞きたいんだ (kikitainnda)
I wanna listen

もっと (motto)
More
騒げ怪獣の歌 (sawage kaijyu no uta)
A Song for Monsters, Be louder
まだ消えない(mada kienai)
It hasn’t disappear yet
夢の歌唱えて(yumeno uta tonaete)
Sing the dreamy song
君がいつも (kimiga itsumo)
You are always
歌う怪獣の歌 (utau kaijyu no uta)
Singing the Song for Monsters
まだ消えない (mada kienai)
It hasn’t vanished
口ずさんでしまうよ (kuchizusande shimauyo)
I still find myself humming

思い出すのは (omoidasunowa)
What I do remember is
君がいた (kimiga ita)
That you were there
ギター持ってる (gitaa motteru)
Holding the guitar
君がいた (kimiga ita)
You were there
忘れられないんだよ(wasurerarenaindayo)
I can’t forget it
だから僕が歌うよ (dakara boku ga utauyo)
So I want to sing

でも最後に見たいのは (demo saigoni mitai nowa)
But what I want to see for the last
きっともう君の夢の中 (kitto mou kimino yumeno naka)
Maybe in your dream
もう一度 (mouichido)
Just once again
また聞かせてくれよ (mata kikasete kureyo)
Let me just listen one more time
聞きたいんだ (kikitainda)
I wanna listen

もっと (motto)
I need more
騒げ怪獣の歌 (sawage kaijyu no uta)
A Song for Monsters, Be louder
まだ消えない(mada kienai)
It hasn’t disappear yet
夢の歌唱えて(yumeno uta tonaete)
Sing the dreamy song
君がいつも (kimiga itsumo)
You are always
歌う怪獣の歌 (utau kaijyu no uta)
Singing the Song for Monsters
まだ消えない (mada kienai)
It hasn’t vanished
口ずさんでしまうよ (kuchizusande shimauyo)
I still find myself humming

落ちてく過去は鮮明で (ochiteku kakowa senmeide)
A falling past is vivid
見せたい未来は繊細で (misetai miraiwa sensaide)
And a future I want to show is sensitive
すぎてく日々には鈍感な君へ (sugiteku hibiniha donkanna kimie)
And for you feeling dull for days passing away

ねぇ、もっと (ne motto)
Hey, More

騒げ怪獣の歌 (sawage kaijyu no uta)
A Song for Monsters, Be loud
まだ消えない(mada kienai)
It hasn’t disappear yet
夢の歌唱えて(yumeno uta tonaete)
Sing the dreamy song
君がいつも (kimiga itsumo)
You are always
歌う怪獣の歌 (utau kaijyu no uta)
Singing the Song for Monsters
まだ消えない (mada kienai)
It hasn’t vanished
口ずさんでしまうよ (kuchizusande shimauyo)
I still find myself humming

ねぇ、僕ら (ne bokura)
Again, we are
眠れない夜に手を伸ばして (nemurenai yoruni tewo nobashite)
Reaching out for a sleepless night
眠らない夜をまた伸ばして (nemuranai yoruwo mata nobashite)
Extending a night that never sleeps
眠くないまだね (nemukunai madane)
I’m not sleepy yet
そんな日々でいたいのにな (sonna hibide itainonina)
I just want to spend such days
懲りずに (korizuni)
I never learns but
眠れない夜に手を伸ばして (nemurenai yoruni tewo nobashite)
Reaching out for a sleepless night
眠らない夜をまた伸ばして(nemuranai yoruwo mata nobashite)
Extending a night that never sleeps
眠くないまだね (nemukunai wo madane)
I’m not sleepy yet
そんな夜に歌う(sonna yoru ni utau)
I’m singing in such night
怪獣の歌 (kaijyu no uta)
Song for Monsters

My song analysis on “Kaijyu No Hanauta” by Vaundy

Again, it’s a very beautiful and mysterious song. As a Japanese, hearing this song, I couldn’t help thinking of my youth, teenage years. As always, a great Jpop song’s lyrics has sometimes very abstract lyric and thanks to that, these can remind us many kind of things and interpretations.

So, What is the “Song for Monsters”? Is the monster, me or you or him or her? However, we need to listen such great songs not by brains but hearts and body I think. Then, I feel like the song is a message song that says we should’t forget what we felt when we were young even after you became adult. Maybe monster is a metaphor of our youth, and “A song for monsters” can be also translated into “a song of monsters”. So, when I heard the line of “A song of monsters, be louder” it felt so emotional and I was almost crying. We shouldn’t forget a precious days of monsters.

Anyway, thank you very much for reading. Here is a gig live video clip of Vaundy and can see the live ver. of the song. His voice is so great that it can be felt even better than the original version.

A song for monsters starts from around 4:37

Thank you very much for reading the article. I would prefer your comments or some other topic requests for me to write. Please write a comment or give me an email through contact page.