The contemporary: Kurama, the fox spirit from Yu Yu Hakusho. (see alt text for copyright)
The old: New Year’s Eve Foxfires at the Changing Tree, Ōji by Hiroshige
Though I didn’t manage to post about it before due to computer issues, I had two public speaking opportunities in January that were pretty fun.
First, I gave a workshop at Texas A&M University’s Stark Galleries. They’re hosting an ukiyo-e exhibit called “The Floating World” through next month, so part of their family-friendly event series is currently focused on Japanese arts and culture. The museum was kind enough to invite me down to TAMU to give a presentation on yokai–the legendary ghosts and goblins of Japan which played a big part in ukiyo-e traditions and still play a role in Japanese pop culture. (And, of course, to talk a little about anime.)
It’s a fun topic that I really like, though I worried about how it was going to go over–turns out it’s challenging to plan a family-friendly workshop about ghost stories when many of them are rated-R-worthy! Cue anxiety over how I could make it interesting enough for all ages at the same time.
But attendance was great: we had a full room, with an age distribution from about 10 to 75. We talked about how to survive an encounter with a kappa, how fox spirits possess humans, and who might show up in the deadly processional called the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons. The audience didn’t visibly react much during the lecture, which worried me, but it turns out they were just being quiet and polite. There were lots of thoughtful questions afterward, with people wanting to talk one-on-one and saying they really enjoyed learning about all the ghouls. Win!
Hyakki Yako (The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons), artist unknown
The other January “speaking engagement” was an informal video-chat interview with legal and academic translator Carolyn Yohn about how I got into my field. It went up on her blog this month (here’s the link) as her first video interview. Definitely not her first interview, though: Carolyn has an ongoing series of interviews on her blog with translators of all different fields about how they chose their specialties. Be sure to check it out!
I already knew that I far prefer delivering video/audio interviews to written ones, because written ones take more time as I get obsessive about getting just the right phrasing for everything. But I did learn something new doing this one through Google Hangout: good lighting for a girl in glasses is hard! Toward the end there are some truly epic shadows on my face. Next time, I’ll definitely ask the professionals for advice before I try to do my own lighting. ^_~ Lucky me that I work in an office with lighting professionals.
Talking to others about culture and translation inevitably means learning something new yourself, even after many years in the field. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t feel comfortable doing it on camera. Carolyn’s interview on camera was great for me: I may have a new fear of facial shadows, but I also met new people on Twitter who watched it and commented, and now I get to read cool new things they post.
The most fun thing, though, was probably finding this Night Parade a la Pokémon.
A night parade with a Pokémon spin, by Pixiv artist “nojo.” (Artist page http://www.pixiv.com/users/548497 – some images contain adult content or are NSFW.)