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Translating Rambling

2008 June 15

I thought I’d start trying to read the book I purchased tonight, so I got through a couple sentences with the help of the denshijisho and wrote out some furigana (hiragana indicating how to read kanji) for myself, and then I thought I might as well start a translation file on my computer so that I could have a straight English version of the text for quick reference later. Here’s what I’ve gotten through so far:

人が美しい色を求め続けるのはなぜだろうか。
季節を待って咲く花に、土にあって深けくのびている根に、枝に実る果実に、さらには樹皮の内側の肌に、と、ひそんでいる自然界の色素を汲み出すようにして、糸や布や紙を染めることを、私は生業としている。
私の工房では、毎早朝、庭先にある竃に火が入り、手入れの行き届かない雑木の間を煙がただよいはじめる。椿や櫟の生木、あるときは藁を燃やしている。そこで得る灰は、染色の工程に欠かせない。

Why is it that people continue to request beautiful colors?
From flowers that wait for seasons and bloom, from deeply extending roots that are in the earth, from fruit born by branches – besides, from the skin inside bark – my occupation is drawing out pigments lurking in the natural world and dyeing string and cloth and paper.
In my studio, early every morning, I light a fire in the oven behind my garden, and smoke begins to spread over the attentively well-kept woodpile. Live camellia, oak wood – sometimes straw is burning. The ash that I get there is necessary for the dyeing process.

I’m not exactly a fast reader in Japanese, but this guy’s writing is dense. And this is just the introduction. At least I’m getting the vocabulary down; I was able to recognize some words from these few sentences as I flipped through the book. Again – progress!

(I don’t know that any of my current readers are Japanese-fluent – in fact, as you’ve noticed, I’ve been writing as if you aren’t – but if anyone is, I apologize if my translation’s a little sloppy. I’m trying to be accurate so that I don’t misquote something in my research, but I may not be getting the proper sense of his writing down. Please let me know if you’ve got any corrections to offer!)

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