Translation Project: The Tale of the Mother in Hell Freed by the Lotus Sutra

May 28, 2009

So for my final translation project I wanted to do something crazy and modern like a couple of chapters from Yoshi’s Deep Love, one of the most popular cell phone novels in Japan. But the course focused on pre-modern Japan and, though the professor would have let me get away with it, I felt weird doing something modern when the rest of the class was way back in time. So I went way back in time with them and chose a story from the Konjaku Monogatari, or, as it is commonly translated, Anthology of Tales from the Past.

Now, we’re talking majorly old here so there was no way I could translate the original. I have enough trouble with modern Japanese. But I chose this story because the modern Japanese translation could be easily found here. Looking at the tiny print in their tiny books, I don’t know how the more myopic Japanese do it. How can they possiblyread a book if so many kanji are tiny black blobs? But I haven’t been to my optometrist since before my study abroad in Japan so maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this story. It’s a pretty typical Japanese folk tale with a typical Japanese folk tale format that firmly establishes where the story happened, tells the story, and then gives a little bit of proof that the story was real. I added a few translation notes at the end.

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May 28, 2009

I really like Hiromi Go. He’s a pop singer who made it big in the seventies, but still manages to release hits today like the big hit, Goldfinger ’99, a Japanese version of Livin’ La Vida Loca.

Anyway, one night I did karaoke with Ugochi and this song got stuck in my head. I sang it while riding my bike on the way home, passing a police officer who probably thought I was drunk. It’s so easy, I decided to try translating it.

Obviously, there are parts that don’t make any sense. Like how do you seduce someone’s hair? I thought maybe the hair was doing the seducing, but that doesn’t fit. I’m going to have ask my sensei about that on Monday. EDIT: I am baka. Hair is not being seduced – it’s flowing because of the wind! Also there’s no indication of who wants to entrust whose happiness to who, so I just made that up. Darn that Japanese and its lack of subjects!

I had so much work to do at the time and I don’t know why I wasted time on a silly little song. But isn’t it just adorable? I want to translate the long version sometime. This video is a slightly longer version – they removed the version I was using to translate before from Youtube.


君たち女の子 僕たち男の子
一度の人生 大事な時間
髪をなびかせて GO GO GO GO!
男と女の子 心がふれあえば

Boy and Girl

You are girls. We are boys.
Hey hey hey, hey hey hey, let’s go play!
Let’s run towards our world
I want to entrust my happiness to you.
Hey hey hey, hey hey hey, dreams are overflowing
One life, precious time
Ah ah, ah ah, in the blue sky
Ah ah, ah ah, the sun is shining
Inside the bright wind
Your hair flows then GO GO GO GO!
Boy and girl, if hearts touch
Hey hey hey, hey hey hey, let’s hurry!
Let’s go barefoot towards our world


童謡 -子供の歌 – Bubbles!

May 28, 2009


Jesus Loves Me 見たい音だけど正に同じじゃないと思う。

I have a little book that was packaged with a box of candy. In this book, there is a cute children’s song. I love it!

It sounds like “Jesus Loves Me” but I don’t think it’s exactly the same.


Let’s translate!


しゃぼんだま とんだ
やねまで とんだ
やねまで とんで
こわれて きえた
かぜかぜ ふくな
しゃぼんだま とばそ

しゃぼんだま きえた
とばずに きえた
うまれて すぐに
こわれて きえた
かぜかぜ ふくな
しゃぼんだま とばそ


Little bubbles float past me
To the roof, they fly so high
To the roof, they fly and then
They all burst and disappear
Wind, wind, blow gently
Let my bubbles fly away.

My dear bubbles disappear
Without flying disappear
They are born then right away
Bubbles burst and disappear
Wind, wind, blow gently
Let my bubbles fly away.

shabondama tonda
yanemade tonda
yanemade tonda
kowarete kieta
kaze kaze fukuna
shabondama tobaso

shabondama kieta
tobazu ni kieta
umarete sugu ni
kowarete kieta
kazekaze fukuna
shabondama tobaso

Two versions: