Notes on translation

20130427-064215.jpgI’m on an airplane, working on my translation of Kiyotsune into Italian. The beauty of the poetry is too much to take and I cannot stop the tears rolling down my face. I do my best not to be too self-indulgent, but… It sometimes happen at okeiko, too, and I think I saw my teacher also crying when we were rehearsing the ji-utai for Tomoe.
Anyways, I just wanted to jot down a brief thought, perhaps a truism. I feel lucky not being a Japanese native speaker because otherwise I would not be able to enjoy bringing Kiyotsune into my native language. All this work of searching, decoding, reflecting, writing, re-writing, changing, making mistakes, correcting them, modelling, adapting…. Translating… What a delight. What a moment of deep transformation and union with the character. Translation can’t be betrayal as long as one accepts that in this life everything is transformed. One thing is thinking it, another is feeling it.

Grilled Utai

The other day I’ve been to this place in Kyoto where you
can eat all sorts of grilled food. Apart from the smoke and the
smell of barbecue that will oblige you to wash everything you wore
on that day, the food is pretty good and the staff nice and
friendly. I had scallop, squid and pumpkin – all grilled with real
wood fire. You have a choice of having whatever you order grilled
by the chef or to grill it yourself on small bracers with burning
embers inside. This is where the
surprise came. The bracers are decorated with paper taken from Noh
utaibon (謡本), or Noh chant libretti. Mine had
Makurajido (枕慈童, aka 菊慈童) on. I was lucky
enough to be given an utai I already practiced, which was easy to
recognise. However, I realised
it is common practice to use paper from various traditional books
(with printed handwriting) on bracers. This is from the
advertisement of one of the many restaurants specialised in crab.

I find this custom rather interesting,
although a bit inappropriate, maybe.