Study Groups and Achievements

Systematization of Illustrated Materials and Its Dissemination

Task 1: Compilation and Publication of Multilingual Version of Pictopedia of Everyday Life in Medieval Japan

For the first two volumes of Pictopedia of Everyday Life in Medieval Japan, which comes in five volumes, we translated the names of depicted objects into English, Chinese and Korean and explanations accompanying the illustrations into English, so that the resources could be shared worldwide. By doing so, we aimed to introduce this unique usage of pictorial cultural materials and to make it a universal methodology.

Translating cultural materials into other languages is fraught with many challenges. As we worked on the project, we realized that it is not easy to express phenomena in a certain culture at a particular period in history in different languages. We were forced to spend a considerable amount of time talking over possible solutions to overcome this difficulty. Given that one of the key objectives of the program was to nurture young researchers, we asked foreign students or graduates of doctoral programs in the field of Japanese society and culture to join the translation task. Foreign scholars from many different universities including Kanagawa University and the University of Tokyo took part in this project. The members of Group 1 then carefully reviewed their translations and chose appropriate captions.

Translating and editing the materials revealed issues in the compilation work. For instance, appropriate terms were not used for some items in the original version of the pictorial dictionary, due to the limited availability of methods. Although we considered revising it, we decided to remain faithful to the original and kept changes to a minimum. Another challenge is that Tanka (Japanese thirty-one syllabled verses) and long quotations are difficult to translate accurately. We tried to make it easy for non-Japanese users to understand such texts by summarizing or omitting some parts.

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