Posts Tagged ‘Fukushima’

The Word from Japan

April 16, 2014

I got confirmation this week that I’ll be signing a contract soon for a Japanese edition of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. The book will be published by a company called Tsukiji Shokan. It will be my first overseas edition. The job of translating the book hasn’t been started yet, so it will be some time before the book comes out. This is a most welcome development. I needed some good news. Judy and I are hoping that we can interest someone in broadcasting the film, which, oddly enough, already has Japanese subtitles. Several years ago, a Japanese woman living in the United States who loves the film wanted her brother to see it, but he speaks no English. She volunteered to do the work of creating subtitles so that he could watch it. Unfortunately, we’ve never been able to interest any Japanese broadcaster in showing it. Maybe we can now. It would certainly help book sales.

In other news: Judy and I had houseguests this week from Japan, Shoji Kihara and his daughter Akiko. Shoji is an anti-nuclear activist whom Judy met 35 years ago when she was working on a film about the survivors of the atomic blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Nagasaki Journey). Shoji’s parents were survivors of the Hiroshima bombing, and Shoji has made a lifelong commitment to ending nuclear power. While he was here, Shoji showed us a DVD that a Japanese photographer made of the dead zone around the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. It was genuinely haunting. All that’s left of Fukushima is abandoned homes and businesses and sickly-looking animals—cows, dogs, pigs, cats, and chickens—wandering around looking for food. No one should be able to discuss the merits or demerits of nuclear energy without seeing something like this. It’s a large area of the planet that’s permanently off-limits, like Chernobyl. The reality that the photographs document gives the abstract debate over nuclear power some badly needed perspective. It’s quite likely that there are going to be more areas like this in the future given the number of power plants in the world.

Finally, I’ve decided that I’m going to start studying Japanese. I like learning languages, and I’ve always wanted to learn one of the Asian languages. But I’ve never been able to decide between Japanese and Chinese. It can’t be an intense study, not while I’m working on Street Song. But I’ve already ordered a book and I’m going to at least make a start.

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