Special Panel
The Site of Translation: The German, English, and Norwegian Translations of Itō
Hiromi’s Togenuki: Shin Sugamo Jizō Engi

In order to gain a better understanding of the translation process, in this session we attempt to connect the site of writing with that of translation. Also, we are honored to invite the author Itō Hiromi, her German translator Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit, English translator Jeffrey Angles and Norwegian translator Ika Kaminka exclusively for this event. Moderators will be Tsuboi Hideto and Fukuo Haruka, who are both experienced researchers of Itō’s works. In this session we wish to open a dialogue between panelists and the audience. Itō has studded her works with references to classical literary works, such as sekkyō-bushi, and translated English poems and prose. In Togenuki (Kodansha: 2007), the many echoing voices lead to a particular style dissolving the boundaries between the genres of poetry and prose. In this context, translating Togenuki means interpreting the practice of translation and the plurality of the text itself. Hijiya-Kirschnereit published studies on Mishima Yukio, Japanese I-novels, and issues of translation, and translated writers such as Enchi Fumiko, Kōno Taeko, Ōba Minako, Nosaka Akiyuki and Inoue Yasushi. Angles, a poet himself, has been working  on the representation of Japanese bishōnen culture and translating the works by Takahashi Mutsuo, Origuchi Shinobu, and Tawada Yōko. Kaminka is known for translating numerous novels of Murakami Haruki, but has also translated the works by Natsume Sōseki, Tanizaki Junichirō and Hiraide Takashi. They are significant figures in introducing Itō’s work in English, German, and Norwegian for the first time. By focusing on a unique literary work such as Togenuki, we believe that this session will contribute to broaden our understanding of both writing and translating contemporary Japanese literature.


Itō Hiromi
Hiromi was born in Itabashi-Ku, Tokyo, and is a major contemporary poet. She made her debut in 1978 with her first collection of poems, Sōmoku no sora. The same year, she won the 16th Gendaishi Techō Award. She was soon recognized as a leading figure in the women’s poetry boom in the 1980s with several groundbreaking poetry collections, including Terrtorii-ron II and Teritorii-ron I. She made a mark as an essayist, writing about pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing in her book of essays Yoi oppai warui oppai. In 1997 she moved to the U.S., where she continued to write about child-rearing and caring for her aging parents and her husband. Itō has received numerous awards, including the Noma Bungei Shinjin Award for the novella La Niña (1999), the Takami Jun Award for the narrative poem Kawara arekusa (2006), the Hagiwara Sakutarō Award for the novel Togenuki (2007), and both the Kumanichi Bungaku Award and the Kōbai Art Award for the novel Michiyuki ya (2021). Currently based in Kumamoto, she teaches creative writing at several universities, where she trains a young generation of poets. Other recent publications include Umashi, Shorō no onna, Itsuka shinu, soremade ikiru watashi no okyō, and Itō fukigen seisakujo.

Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit
Professor of Japanese literature and cultural history at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, since 1991, and Professor Emeritus since 2019. She has held professorships at Hitotsubashi University and Trier University, and she was Director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) of the Max Weber Foundation in Tokyo (1996-2004). She also headed the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Study at FU from 2010 to 2015 and is presently active as Principal Investigator for several projects in the Freie Universität Cluster of Excellency “Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective”.
She is an active literary translator, as well as author of numerous works on Japanese literature and culture in German, English, and Japanese, including “Joryū” hōdan (Women Writers Speak Their Minds, 2018). She produced the first book-length translation into a foreign language of Itō Hiromi’s works with a selection of poetry and prose in German (1993). She is also editor of several book series, including the thirty-four volume Japanische Bibliothek (Japan Library) with Insel-Suhrkamp Publ. (1990-2000), and initiator and co-editor of the Comprehensive Japanese-German Dictionary (和独大辞典) in 3 volumes (completed in 2022). In 1992, she won the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and received the Japan Foundation Prize in 2021. She has also served as president of the European Association for Japanese Studies (1994-1997).

Jeffrey Angles
Angles was born in Ohio (USA), and is a poet and professor of Japanese literature, teaching at Western Michigan University. During a three-month stay as a high school exchange student in Shimonoseki in 1987, he developed a deep interest in Japanese and Japanese literature. He began translating Japanese poetry and short stories as a graduate student at The Ohio State University around the year 2000, and in 2004 he earned a Ph.D. for his research into representations of same-sex love in the literature of Murayama Kaita and Edogawa Ranpo. Since then, he has translated dozens of authors and poets, including Tada Chimako, Takahashi Mutsuo, Orikuchi Shinobu, and Tawada Yōko. He has published three volumes of the work of Itō Hiromi in translation: Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi Itō (2009), Wild Grass on the Riverbank (2016), and The Thorn Puller (2022).He has won numerous accolades and grants for his translation work, including the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, National Endowment for the Arts Translation Grants, PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants, and the Lindsey and Masao Miyoshi Translation Award. In 2017, his book of poetry written in Japanese, Watashi no hizukehenkōsen (My International Date Line), won the 68th Yomiuri Literary Award. He remains active as a poet to this day. 

Ika Kaminka
Ika Kaminka is a freelance translator from Norway, translating mainly from Japanese and English into Norwegian. Her background is in art history and architecture, and she first came to Japan in 1986 to study Japanese gardens. Later, she embarked on a PhD on the aesthetics of Japanese love hotels at the University of Bergen, a work which was not completed. Instead, she became a translator. She has translated numerous works by Murakami Haruki, as well as Sasameyuki (Makioka Sisters) and In’ei raisan (In Praise of Shadows) by Tanizaki Jun’ichirō and Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki, among others. She was awarded the Norwegian Bastian Prize for Outstanding Translation for her translation of Murakami’s 1Q84. In addition to Togenuki, she has published a compilation of poetry by Itō Hiromi, presenting works from Hiromi’s entire oeuvre. Her most recent translation is Hōrōki by Hayashi Fumiko.