~9~ A Table for Two

A Table for Two

Warm memories remain in places where people gather

When she was a child, Chiaki Yumura hated the words, “Thank you.”

Particularly, she got a bad feeling when adults would say it to her instead of goodbye.

She’d never been able to figure out why, but just recently, she’d had a realization.

Oh, is that why.

It was the same when people said, “Thank you for asking.”

People tell me that, but I didn’t even do anything.

To overstate it a bit, it made it obvious to her that she hadn’t done anything worthy of gratitude. She must have hated that thought even as a kid.


Chiaki Yumura had ended up working at a restaurant, and although she’d only been there a year, there were two things she’d thought of during that year with regards to her reaction to the words ‘thank you’ when she was a kid.

One of them was that her reaction did turn out to be the same as when she was a kid after all.

When a customer was going home, they would bow to her, as a dining room staff member, with a face that said, “Ah, that was delicious.”

Some of them even expressed the veracity of their satisfaction with words.

Faced with those smiles, those feelings from when she was a kid would glance off her again.

Maybe I should work in the kitchens instead. If people would praise my cooking and bow with that face, that would make me happy, but, eh, I don’t know.

The other thing that came to her mind was a bit of a surprise, even to her. She discovered that she actually liked ‘thank you.’ But it had to be gratitude felt as a result of something she’d done herself. That was what she’d learned.

That was why she’d been so sensitive to the words ‘thank you’ when she was a kid, Chiaki Yumura realized.

She felt a keen stab whenever she thought that she’d done something useful for someone, even something slight, and when she thought about it, that stab had been sharper than average ever since she was a kid.

Her first motive in wanting to work in a restaurant, in other words in wanting to serve customers, was that she liked food, but she had a hunch that there was another motive just as strong, well, maybe even stronger than that.

She wanted to feel that stab.

But as it turned out, she gradually came to realize that it wasn’t quite as simple as that.

In the first place, what even constituted, “being useful, even slightly?” The food had to be not only delicious, but also provided in a timely fashion?

She got it, but she didn’t get it. It was hard to pin down.

For instance, even the part she understood, this “presenting things in a timely fashion,” how should she do that? You couldn’t just throw things on a plate.

A few days ago, she’d been chatting with the hall staff lead Yukiko Takaki in the locker room during the late shift, and somehow they’d gotten onto the topic of their childhoods, and Chiaki Yumura had started to mention her “Thank You Response Syndrome,” but had stopped short. She had a hunch she’d be misunderstood.

So instead, she’d asked something like, “Yukiko, what kind of stuff makes you say, ‘Oh yeah!’ ”

“Oh yeah?”

“Like, at work.”

“At work, huh. Hm, what kind of moment would that be, anyway. I do have some moments where I’m like, ‘well that happened,’ but…”

“Yeah, there aren’t really any, are there.”

“On a minute by minute basis, nothing really makes you think, like, ‘Oh yeah!’ you know.”

“That’s true.”

After they’d finished changing, Yukiko Takaki grinned and said, “Although, when you hit something right on the mark, and they say thank you, that does feel nice.”

Chiaki Yumura had folded her uniform shirt and was tossing it into the box to be cleaned when her hands stopped moving.

Oh, is it possible this person feels the same?


The restaurant where Chiaki Yumura worked was a high class place with a French base. It was a simple space, built on a black and white foundation, and a quitely dignified air always flowed through the shop.

So then, that night.

The couple appeared precisely at the time on their reservation.

They were so punctual, it was like they’d called in to the operator and had been listening to the time being read off, and had rushed into the store at the exact moment the operator announced, “At the tone, the time will be, eight o’ clock, bing bong.”

“Your reservation was…” The store manager non-chalantly confirmed their name.

“Yes,” the man answered. His shoulders under his light beige jacket were tense, and his walk stiff. The woman beside him wore an unbleached dress. Her hair was very lovely, pulled up into a tight pony tail.

“If you don’t have any bags you’d like us to look after for you, we can see you to your seat,” the store manager said, and Chiaki Yumura led them to their reserved table. It was the innermost table, a quiet one, with a good view of the night’s scenery.

Actually, this man had already been to the store once, a week prior.


When he’d spoken, Chiaki’s first thought had been, Did he forget something?

And it was something embarrassing, too, like a cell phone with a big honking strap hanging from it. Something that, once left behind, he was embarrassed to have discovered in a restaurant like this, that kind of something.

She thought it so instantly because he seemed unreliable somehow, like he habitually forgot things. But it wasn’t like that.

“I have a request, but…” he said.

He had such a serious expression that Chiaki asked, “Did you want to see the manager?” and he replied yes please.

She immediately went to call the store manager, who was then confirming their stock of the usual wines in the wine cellar.

The store manager went up to talk to him right away. He had taken a seat in an empty chair and was waiting. Watching from a little ways off, Chiaki thought he looked like someone at a loss, like he was wandering a street somewhere.

The store manager greated him with a smile.

After a while, the store manager returned, and when he muttered, “A birthday present, huh…” Chiaki turned her head from where she’d been wiping down the tumblers at the bar. Apparently, the man had said he’d wanted to give his girlfriend a birthday present after their meal, in one week’s time.

From what he’d told the store manager, it seemed this was the first time the man had done anything like this. Not just the restaurant part, but the giving of a present, too. His plan might have been considered suddenly bold, except that he’d seen the storefront before, and thought, “If I ever do it, it’s gonna be here.”

The present was a ring. It probably had her birthstone in it.

He’d consulted the manager to ask what the best timing was for these things. In other words, he’d wanted some stage direction.

The store manager had said, “The most natural moment is during dessert, of course.” When he explained that the shop would cooperate from the shadows, the man’s face had brightened. This had all happened a week ago.

The following day, in the locker room, Chiaki happened to overhear a conversation between two of the staff.

“It must be a nice present he’s giving her.”

“I haven’t gotten a present like that since kindergarten.”


“Yeah. We were moving, so the little boy next door gave me a handkercheif.”


They were so excited about it that the converstation still hadn’t changed the following day.

What they hadn’t realized was how awkward of a presenter the man was.

Even his girlfriend was infected by it, and when he put a hand on her knee, she quickly froze. But the smile on her face wasn’t completely eradicated, and her smile did look especially great with that unbleached dress.

Things were comfortable in that quiet corner, less crowded, and there was a nice old couple sitting not too far away.

Chiaki softly approached the older couple to take their order. As she came close, the younger man was saying something in a flowing, flowery style.

What, already?

Chiaki was a bit confused.

He hasn’t given her the present, they haven’t even started their meal. Is he onto the main topic already? she thought.
But it wasn’t like that.

He was slowly reading out the a la carte menu in order from top to bottom. It was like he was reciting epic poetry.

His girlfriend was seated facing him, listening quietly to this literary work, like an enthusiastic fan.

As Chiaki carried some food to a nearby table, a certain feeling surged through her. Ah, I want to do something for them.

It was a strong feeling, too. Maybe it was something about the lonely tone of his poetry recitation, she didn’t know.

He asked about their wines, and although her knowledge wasn’t flawless, there was a shared sense of investigating the question together, and they eventually decided on a California red. As she took a step back, Chiaki put the brakes on.


But just a minute ago, when she’d wanted to do something for them.

The store manager had advised her that whenever this feeling reared its ugly head, it was because her hospitality was in danger of becoming an imposition.

Now that she thought about it, she had a hunch she’d made many such errors when she was a kid.

Take a breath, stay calm, stay calm.


The main course arrived for the older couple. The husband picked up his knife and fork with great delicacy, like they were bird feathers.

As Chiaki watched this delicacy from a distance, fascinated, the hall lead Yukiko Takaki softly entered her field of vision.

Chiaki had always admired the way she made her entrances.

Customers here were encouraged to make conversation with each other. But even at tables where there was plenty of conversation, there was always an ebb and flow, like a lake.

The beauty of Yukiko’s timing was that at the exact peak of that ebb tide, that is to say, precisely when that spring of conversation was paused for a moment, she would slide up beside the table like a shadow, and pour the wine.

She didn’t stand next to the table, waiting for the ebb tide to peak. That would just creep the customers out. Yukiko would just draw near to the table, as if she’d been in the area for no special reason, and the moment that she arrived at the table, that was the instant the conversation happened to have paused.

Probably she watched things from a distance, but it wasn’t just that – Chiaki got the feeling she must be calculating the number of steps it would take to get there with some animal instinct.

Yukiko Takaki poured white wine into the innermost glass, and softly withdrew. As she did, she created an opening for the start of a whole new conversation between the older couple.

The wife quietly carried the white wine Yukiko had poured to her mouth, like a white thread. The flow of time had stopped at that table, creating a happy scene, as though the two of them were continuing a meal that had been going on for hundreds of years already.


The younger couple had decided on their order.

Chiaki put on her best Yukiko impersonation and headed to their table. But she was a bit clumsy with it. Her timing was bad. She couldn’t quite match the ebb and flow of this couple’s lake.

The woman seemed like she wanted to say something to Chiaki, but Chiaki warned herself not to get cocky and say anything stupid. But that just made things even more awkward.

No good, absolutely no good.

Just a minute ago, she’d been thinking she wanted to do something for these two, like she’d been inspired. That was almost exactly the same feeling as, “I can do something,” but what she was feeling now? This was no good at all.

It put her in a real slump. If this was the sort of thing that got her down, maybe she ought to quit the service industry, she thought to herself. But there was nothing she could do about which things got her down.

I should never have ended up here, in this job.

Simply put, that was what she was thinking. Maybe is was her, “I-want-to-be-of-some-small-use Sydrome,” she thought.


It was time to deliver the oysters. Happily, conversation was flowing between the two of them. Chiaki nimbly placed the dish on the table and stepped back.

She’d gone about five steps when the girl in the unbleached A-line dress said something in a voice even quieter than before.

“I really had a good time, Yūsuke.”

That was definitely what Chiaki heard.

So his name was Yūsuke, Chiaki thought. And at the same time: Wow, really?

His name was neither here nor there. There was something about the way she said it, she had a good time, that felt like she was earnestly looking back on the past.

Doesn’t it seem like, she’d had a good time, like, up until today?

As soon as Chiaki had that thought, for some reason she had the delusion that the two of them were old friends. It made her heart thump.

She brought out their last dish before desert.

Chiaki’s “I-want-to-be-useful-for-something Syndrome” had caved in completely. In its place was a feeling of being at her wit’s end.

If she had to put it into words, it was wrapped up in a feeling sort of like, “I want to give my two oldest friends some kind of happiness.”

Although, having said all that, there wasn’t necessarily a big change in the service that Chiaki was giving. It wasn’t like she was blurting out anything weird, like, “Please I want you to be happy.”

To an outsider, it wouldn’t have looked like anything about Chiaki’s style had changed.

But when she was preparing the oysters to go out to the table, she’d muttered a heart-felt “Good luck,” without really being aware of it. She’d muttered it three times.

It was the first time she’d ever experienced something like that first-hand since she’d started working in this retaurant.


Just in the nick of time, the climax.

“I’d be very grateful if you wouldn’t mind turning down the lights a bit at the surrounding tables,” was the cue.

The store manager had been keeping custody of the man’s present.

It was a ruby ring. Her birthstone.

The store manager had brought in a thermos mug from home. It had a vaccuum chamber like a thermal pitcher, and a lid that sealed it closed. The store manager’s stage direction idea was that they would put the mug on the table, with the ring in it, like it was dessert, and the man would then present it to the woman. It was a apparently a joke, their love would never grow cold.

“Shall we start then? It’s the final scene.”

Chiaki delivered the mug.

They said they’d been keeping custody of it for the man, but she placed it quietly in front of the woman in the unbleached A-line.

The woman’s finger opened the lid of the mug, twitched, and stopped. Chiaki couldn’t see it, but no doubt a red light rose up from inside the mug like there was a lit charcoal inside.

The woman looked silently at the man.

The man didn’t say anything either.

Under the slightly dimmed lights, she held the thermos mug in which the ruby ring had been offered between her hands, and time seemed to slow down, like slow motion filming. The staff didn’t approach them again.


Who knew how much time had passed. Even the older couple at that nearby table stood up, as if, although they had the strength in their hearts to carry on with the meal another hundred years, they were each worried about the other’s health. Some clouds had been called down to meet them, and maybe they were going to ride those clouds home. That was the feeling the scene gave. There was probably some young labrador puppy watching the house while they were gone, waiting for their return.

The younger couple stood up, too. And then the curtain pulled back on a small post script to that night’s events.

That post script was as follows:

“Um… ”

He came back to the store, alone.

“Oh, did you leave something here?” Chiaki answered. Didn’t I see this same scene a week ago, she thought.

“Well, I did tell my girlfriend I was going to pick up something I’d forgotten, but…”


“Um, the truth is…” he started. “The truth is, tonight was really important. It would have been totally normal for things to have ended with, ‘let’s break up.’ ”

“Ah.” Chiaki’s voice left her mouth of its own accord. The words “I wondered if that wasn’t the case,” got as far as her throat, but she kept them down.

He briefly told his story.

It seemed the two of them had always spent a lot of time not communicating enough. Tonight, he said, was an incredibly difficult setting for them.

The ruby ring was possibly going to be a farewell gift. It seemed he had resigned himself to that, if that’s what was going to happen.

But things hadn’t developed in that direction.

“Even the way you handled the thermos was good,” he said. “I’m really grateful.”

“What?” Chiaki stared blankly at him.

“You left us alone very cleverly, very politely. I don’t know, time got weirdly slow, and it feels like we’ve gained back months, like we could talk to each other.”

“Oh I see,” Chiaki replied quietly, and the man continued.

“When you left us so perfectly alone, it felt like you were trying to help us out, telling us good luck.”

What? Had he heard her…?

Chiaki faked a smile.

The ruby ring had ended up fullfilling its original purpose that night, after all. The last thing Yūsuke said to Chiaki was, “At any rate, really, thank you. Nice assist!”

He bowed his head like he was an elementary school student greeting one of the neighborhood grandmas, and then left the store.
Being told thanks didn’t feel as bad as it had when she was a kid, even if Chiaki herself didn’t immediately realize it.

~&~ In place of an Afterword

~&~ In place of an Afterword

haruhiko okamoto

I’m often told, “Working in the food services industry is kind of hard.”

Every day, you repeat the same tiring duties. It’s not just that it’s a job where you have to stand up, but you run around so as not to make the customers wait, and you do it every single day.

During peak hours, your superiors’ harsh voices ring out, and a certain tension closes in. When you’re short staffed, you even give up your break time. When you get a harsh scolding from a customer, you become keenly aware of your own lack of power…

But in a modern restaurant, there are also amazing moments that you can only experience for yourself if you choose to work at one. The trivial occurrances, that we usually let pass, the important moments that shake our hearts; there are unimaginable discoveries scattered among the days of casual work.

Every day, we welcome many customers to our stores. A new acquaintance, a laughing voice, a deep emotion, a small blessing are always among them.


Important moments visit suddenly. When you put your whole body into taking time and trouble to prepare the food, you meet with the smiling face of a customer who’s joy comes from the bottom of their heart.

When you’re running everywhere to set up a new branch, and you finally overcome all the obstacles and open the store.

When you refuse to give up on a depressed little store and manage to restore it.

When you put an idea to improve your store out to your comrades and pull off perfect teamwork.

When you improve a dish that was considered dead through countless hours of trial and error.

When you move steadily forward in the support of your customers, despite setbacks, and build a thriving business.

When you debut your own small idea to the world.

When you’re made brave by the love and trust of your co-workers.

Nothing can replace words of thanks received from a customer, gratitude for a co-worker, self-confidence, bonds with friends, or the savoring of an important moment that soaks into your heart. One starts to wonder if there’s anything on earth more important than that.


Different passions and personalities also swirl through restaurants.

For every person who dreams of owning their own place, there’s someone who wants to refine the core of cooking, and someone who just likes food, someone who likes their co-workers, someone who wants to follow the path of service to its limit. Someone who’s fired up to put a new brand out there. Someone who secretly imagines a great overseas adventure.

We share heart-warming moments with important collegues who influence the restaurant business with their ideas. These moments are engraved eternally as memories of each other, and contribute hours to a rich life.

When you’re touched by someone’s sincere emotions, a deep feeling of gratitude is born.

This is the setting for sharing new discoveries and personal experiences with collegues in the midst of busy days, and for growing by leaps and bounds as human beings.

This is the best of the restaurant as a workplace.


We have debuted and managed many restaurants since our establishment. The sense of personal success in going through that process, the joy and sadness both, were always shared with our co-workers.

Everything starts with a small challenge, and we walk the path to sure maturity without even realizing it, supported by our collegues’ zealous emotions. It’s the same for businesses as it is for individuals.

If we demonstrate our individuality, our co-workers are emboldened, and if we summon our courage and take a step forward, a certain drama is born in that moment. Drama painted in the colors of individuality is engraved on the heart as something eternal.

The nine short stories of this collection were compiled based on actual events that took place in /create restaurants/ locations.

The names of the people and restaurants that appear in the stories have been changed slightly, but I think that the stories beautifully express important moments encountered by our business collegues.

In our current world, so full of risk and change, there is a tendancy to stress conducting one’s self cleverly, with an eye to ones gains and losses. In such an age, the simple, lovely value of working as hard as you can for someone else’s happiness is especially conspicuous. Giving it your all, with no deceit, without getting distracted. I want to conduct myself according to those steady values.


In the food service industry, something happens every day.

Real human drama, nothing glossed over. Fought with unadorned individuality, won or lost in the end with the ultimate weapon of human beings, sincerity. The world’s deepest emotion and best charm.

This is the restaurant business!

We shall continue to go out into the world and create restaurant business locations with charm.


create restaurants president and CEO
haruhiko okumoto

It Happened at the Table – notes and credits

With the Cooperation of:

create restaurants public corporation / Established 1999. Publisher of “Multi-brand, multi-location Strategy,” create restaurants develops and expands various food courts and restaurants, and achieved 100 member stores in 2004, 200 stores in 2005, and 300 in 2006. In 2005, they were entrusted with the eight-booth food court at the 2005 Japan International Fair (love-earth exhibition). That same year, they were listed on the Tokyo Mothers Stock Exchange. [1] In 2007, they established a joint venture with Kissho, called “create kissho” and in 2008 they created a joint venture with the Shanghai Yuyuan Tourist Mart. [2] As of this writing, in February of 2008, there are 361 member shops, across over 109 brands.


Marche du Metro Ometesando
Jean Francois Omotesando
Garden Marche Yokohama World Porters
Harvest Aeon Akita
Kichiza Shinjuku Island Tower
New York Grand Kitchen Yokohama
Tonkatsu Shinjuku Suzuya Mosaic Dining Shijou Kawara-machi
Kioi-chou Juunian
TUKIJI Roppongi
and others

in collaboration with

Chapter 1 “Cabbage Rolls and Sketch Pads”
Eri Oe / Mariko Minagawa

Chapter 2 “How About Some Sweet Fritters”
Nobuaki Koneko / Ekanayake-Mucliyanselage-Aruni-Deepika

Chapter 3 “Going to Dewakara”
Kensuke Umetsu

Chapter 4 “Explore New Territory!”
Michio Yamazaki

Chapter 5 “The Farewell Wristwatch”
Hisakatsu Takemoto

Chapter 6 “Can I Get a Margarita?”
Mayumi Terada

Chapter 7 “How to Eat Tonkatsu with Tea-rice”
Shōji Kashiwagi

Chapter 8 “Shingo’s Father”
Katsuhiro Onudzuka

Chapter 9 “A Table for Two”
Hidetaka Suzuki

Jirō Uematsu

Born in Hyougo Prefecture, Kobe City. Graduated from Waseda University. Went into business for himself after a tour of duty at an advertising firm. Author of short stories, essays, and travel journals, among other things. Won the 40th Everyday Children’s Literature Award with “Pen Friends” (Douwaya), a story about the bravery of young and old alike. Also won the 12th Oda Sakunosuke Award with “Springtime Bellyroll” (Kansai Shoin), written in a tender literary style. His other works include “Substitute Sunday” (Douwaya), “6th Omnibus Mystery Anthology” (Tokyo Sogensha), “The People’s Racetrack” (NHK Publishing), “70 Siblings” “A Fist to the Sky” (KOSEI publishing), and “The Wisdom of Aesop” (SEIBIDO SHUPPAN).

Restaurant Short Story Collection
It happened at the table

2008 Oct 28 First Printing

[1 – a special exchange for high-tech and emerging stocks]

[2 – i have to apologize, they gave the name of the joint venture, but they gave it in Chinese, and my google-fu wasn’t quite up to the task.]

ebookjapan’s new look

ah, the ebookjapan app has finally updated, as it promised it would, and there is now no more trunk room, no more local bookshelf, it’s just all one big beautiful app. (^_^) so for those of you who are mostly there for the pretty pictures, i thought i’d translate the little instruction/update screens.

The bookshelf display is new
The local bookshelf and the trunk bookshelf have been merged, and book management has become easier.
[To users of former versions of the reader]
Volumes are located in the Former Trunk Bookshelf folder.
Online reading volumes and the like were moved to the Library folder.

Download Icon
Cloud volume
Downloaded volume
When you select volumes with a cloud icon, the volume download begins and can then be read.
Volumes that do not have the cloud icon have already been downloaded. Please read them as before, even offline.

Deleting Volumes

It is now possible to delete volumes directly from the management screen, without being moved to a trash bin folder.


Bookshelf Menu

With a tap on the top left of the screen, a drawer menu is displayed where you can see the folder filters at a glace. The menu with display, re-ordering, and other options are can be displayed with the menu button on the end.


Bookshelf Icons



Display only downloaded volumes

Refresh: Refreshes the bookshelf display. You can also refresh the display by swiping down on the main bookshelf.
Manage: You can upload, download, move between folders, and delete books from here.
Display only downloaded volumes: They main bookshelf displays both volumes that have finished downloading and volumes that are stored on the cloud. If this option is checked, only volumes that have finished downloading will be displayed.



A Warning About Starting The App For The First Time

When you start the app for the first time, your bookshelf with perform a syncing operation.
If your volumes are not displayed, please wait a little bit, or switch screens (by entering Reading Mode or the Settings screen, for instance, and then returning to the Bookshelf screen).

and there you have it, ladies, gentlemen, and others. (^_^) personally, i like this new look. i like having everything on one screen, and i really like the new management system. i had a lot of samples downloaded, and it was hard to find them to delete them after i downloaded the whole book, but having everything on one screen made that so much easier.

the rest of the app is nicely translated, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding the right buttons to click, but if you’ve got a question, let me know in the comments, i’ve opened them up for this post.


ebookjapan notice of June 2015


Starting this summer, the Local Bookshelf and the Trunkroom Bookshelf are merging and book management will be simplified.

As a general rule, the Trunkroom Bookshelf folder will continue to be available.

If you wish to continue using the Local bookshelf folder, please use the tool prepared to copy it to the Trunkroom bookshelf.

Please copy the folder from [settings] > [bookshelf setting] > [copy bookshelf folder name to trunkroom]

(translator note: the app itself has been translated, so the setting names above are how you will find them in the app.)

fact 187 – PLANS

a) it’s been one hot minute.
b) new look!
c) new Plans.


so, various things have happened. (^_^)

basically, my life has much improved since last we spoke, and one of the things that has improved is that i feel like i can take my translation game on the road, or rather, on the blog. to that end, i will be cleaning up the translations that are already on this blog, i will be pushing out some of the old updates on stories that i’ve finished but haven’t even typed up yet, and i will be finalizing my plan to produce new stuff to put out. probably the “facts” portion of this blog will become less and less important, but let’s face it, i never updated that frequently anyway. now that i have something to update with, perhaps i can stick to it. #hmmm

so what is this mysterious new Plan? well, Part A was to revamp the look of the site, and as you can see, i’ve already gotten there. since this site will be focused on reading things, i’ve gone with a site that focuses on text, and doesn’t have a lot of crap cluttering the place up, making things hard to read. also, it looks great on mobile. since i’ve just purchased a shiny new galaxy note 4, and i find myself doing 90% of everything on my phone, and i know a lot of you guys are in the same boat, i figure that’s to everyone’s benefit.

Part 2. Part B. will be to fix up the stories i’ve already put out. it’s basically just Prince of the Moon at this point, but Lodoss is important to me, so i’m going to work on getting that translation finalized and prettified, and so you should see some edits on that stuff fairly soon. i’m actually working on an entry for a translation contest at the moment, so of course, that and its hard deadline have to come first, but the blog comes next.

Part C, or 3, will be new stories. yay~ #confetti. i’ve found a site called syosetu.com, which is one of the most popular japanese text novel sites, and full of actually well-written, interesting stories, which are fairly short and not terribly difficult, and i’ve got a couple of stories already finished that i’m hoping to queue up. i’ll be focusing on fantasy and sci-fi stuff in the short story arena, and of course my personal favorite BL in the novel arena, and my goal is to release one translated short story or chapter of a novel each month. this may not (is not likely to) happen straight away, but that will be what i’m working up to.

in the meantime, i’ve got this contest entry, i’ve got about three or four dozen light novels that have been patiently waiting for me to get to them, and of course there’s the entirety of syosetu.

*wings away into the night, pencil in hand*

FACT 186 – how to ART

thoughts, i have them. in this particular instance, i have them on creativity, and the Myth of Art. perhaps more specifically, the Myth of Creating Art. several comments on the twitters recently have regurgitated this idea that if you want to become an Artist, be it a graphic artist, a comic book artist, a writer, a whatever, you should simply do that thing. you want to become a writer? great, Write! voila! you want to become a sketch artist? awesome, Sketch! perfect, doesn’t it feel great to be an Artist!?

but as some/all/most/none of us know, it’s not that simple. writing is an important part of being a writer, it is the very definition of the word. sketching is vital to becoming a sketch artist. no one, least of all you, should be calling you a comic artist if you have not produced any comics. in short, you cannot become The Person w/out doing The Thing. BUT it is not the only part of becoming The Person, and i am here today to suggest that, when asked how you become The Person, perhaps the best advice is not, “hey, do The Thing.”

for one, it makes you sound flippant and egotistical. “Hey, I did The Thing, so why don’t you stop bugging me with your questions and just get to it.” great, i’d love to, but i’m already having enough of a problem simply “get to it”-ing that i’ve worked up the courage to bug some randomly famous internet person that i no doubt admire and value the opinion of for advice, so how about we take into account that this answer is so simple that i may indeed have thought of it already.

secondly, it’s insincere. no artist simply woke up one day and said, “I think I’ll ART today,” and then went off and ARTed in some beatific form and won a great prize and lots of dollars for doing so. every artist spends days and nights and sometimes longer on the “god i suck” spectrum, and indeed many/most artists i know of, everyone who’s ever given an interview on the subject and many who haven’t, has revealed that they spend a lot of their lives on this spectrum. even the great Neil Gaiman revealed in a NaNoWriMo pep talk of yore (perhaps the second-greatest pep talk of all time (that’s right, Lemony Snicket is my hero)) that he regularly calls up his agent to reveal to them that he is a fraud and can no longer ART and should just go off to become a greengrocer. it is never as simple as sitting down at the desk/typewriter/pen/brush/insert-medium-of-your-choice-here and ARTing, and to suggest otherwise is to willfully ignore all of the hard work that goes into actually forcing oneself to sit down and do The Thing.

yes, it’s true. in order to become The Person, you do need to sit down and do The Thing. but doing The Thing is not always easy. there is a well known adage in the writing world that you will write at least a million words of crap before producing even a single word that is worth reading. some people say it’s your height in 8.5 x 11 inch single spaced crap, some have other measuring devices, but the point is, you will suck, and quite hard, before you become good, and even then, it’s anybody’s guess whether you’re actually good or not. the real kicker is that during this time, you will gradually become aware of how much you suck, and it will eventually dawn on you that you may well suck for the rest of your born days. at that point, you may wish to stop ARTing, and many people do. but the trick to writing, to ARTing, if there is a trick, is to accept this suckage as fact and then ignore the hell out of it. just because you suck is no reason to stop. after all, Neil Gaiman was convinced at some point in every novel he’s ever written that he sucked, and that doesn’t seem to have stopped him from producing some pretty good novels.

now, there are other problems with ARTing: time constraints, financial constraints, one (or more) of the several billion constraints that Real Life seems to delight in vomiting upon the path we are trying to tread here, thank you very much, and i will say for the record that “Do The Thing” is terrible advice in these situations, too. if you want to paint, but you don’t have money to buy paints, telling you to paint is not only unhelpful, it is also discouraging. the implication here being that if only you loved ARTing enough, you would find the money, or the time, or the whatever, and the fact that you apparently can’t means that you don’t love ARTing enough. sucks to be you, but stop bothering me with your questions.

unfortunately, the real answer here is to get more money, or time, or whatever, and this is a) not something people want to hear, b) not something people want to say, and c) not always possible. you may have to accept that becoming The Person is not within your reach right now.

but that doesn’t mean you should give up. i want to become a translator, and i’m learning Japanese, as i have been for apparently half my life now GOD I AM OLD and there have been times when i put the textbooks down, perhaps for good. lord yes, there have been. there was once a nine month stretch when i didn’t so much as look at a Japanese character because i was so frustrated with it. but i went back, because i’m helplessly in love with this damn language, and in the years since then, i’ve progressed further than i could have ever imagined during those nine months of frustration. but did i know that during those nine months? definitely not. i felt like a complete failure. i had been stuying for several years at that point, and for what? to simply frazzle out and give up? well, yeah, that’s what i thought at the time. looking back, it’s easy to see i had simply hit that plateau where you’re better than “beginner” but not quite as good as “intermediate,” which turns out to be a Recognized Milestone of Language Learning, but that was not a visible fact when i was standing inside the milestone.

so maybe you can’t paint right now, maybe you can’t afford it. maybe you find writing so frustrating that you can’t even imagine picking up a pencil or opening your laptop, but maybe that’s not the disaster you think it is. perhaps you, too, are on the post-beginner/pre-intermediate plateau. or perhaps you are one of the millions of people who will keep their ARTing as a personal hobby. that’s fine. i once ran an online bookbindery, and had (still have) grand plans to open a real, bricks and morter shop, where i can sell real blank journals to real people, but it seems to have become a hobby now, practiced only occassionally, for the benefits of friends and family, rather than the Entire Internet. and if you think about the odds, for every one person who becomes a Super Famous Artist, there must be thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, who don’t make it to that point, and we don’t go around thinking that all those people are completely worthless “could have beens.” no, we think they’re our co-workers, and our friends, and our family, and we see that they have other valuable traits. but maybe, just maybe, you will be that one in a million person who can make it, who can stride/walk/crawl/wriggle/whatever-it-bloody-takes-to-get-there across that plateau and become The Person.

but if you give up now, you’ll never know.

although, you should know that there’s another plateau after that, and probably one after that, too. the good news is, they look a lot like the first one, so they’re easier to spot.

Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon

front cover
front cover

Lodoss, the accursed island. In Moss, a region in southwestern Lodoss, a sealed evil is released–

Brook, king of Skard, dreams of his son Nashere becoming king of all Lodoss. And so, when he learns that his own days are numbered, he makes a bet, determined to leave a disgraced name to history. And then, Nashere’s sister Reena, for the sake of the deep love she feels for her brother, also leaves her own fate in her father’s hands… In this new volume, the truth of the Demon’s liberation is revealed!

A Record of Lodoss War original story.

(a note from your translator: this is a collection of two short stories, detailing the backstory to and actual release of the demon king who was later defeated by Beld and the Six Heroes.)



Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon
first published in The Sneaker, release date 12/5/1995

– chapter one
chapter two

Bonds of Blood
first published in The Sneaker, 8/1996 volume

– chapter one
chapter two
chapter three
chapter four
chapter five
chapter six

On the Kadokawa Mini Library’s First Volume

– a note from your translator on Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon

a note on Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon

hi there~ a note from your translator about my experience translating Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon!

Lodoss is the series that got me into the Japanese language, so I was very excited when I found this tiny volume. for the record, I do plan on doing the other 7(00) Lodoss volumes. i own most of them, i just have to win the lottery or something so i can stop working and have enough time to do them. (^_^)

the thing that struck me the most when i was translating this volume is that Mizuno-sensei likes that olde timey practice of giving people epithets. For instance, whenever he refers to Brook, the king of Skard, especially when it’s Reena doing the referring, Brook is called 父ブルーク (Father Brook), or 王ブルーク (King Brook). In English, that sounds a bit weird, so I left a lot of them off, but I tried to make up for it in other ways, mostly in syntax, that is, word order, and register, that is, i made people talk more high-falutin’ than they otherwise would have. When Brook speaks with the Demon in Low Ancient at the end of Bonds of Blood, though, Mizuno-sensei does use some old Japanese personal pronouns, so the “thees” and “thous” there were direct translations.

Mizuno-sensei also likes paragraph breaks and non-tagged dialogue. all those carriage returns? yeah, not my idea. i think Mizuno-sensei thinks they make things dramatic, and maybe they did in 1996, but now they look kind of silly. i left them in wherever they didn’t hinder reading comprehension, because as far as i’m concerened Lodoss = camp. also, i didn’t insert any dialogue tags. if Mizuno-sensei wanted his Japanese readers to be confused, we English readers are going to have to be confused, too. sorry…

also, the first story, the self-titled one, maybe it’s just my imagination, but i don’t think it was as well written as Bonds of Blood. i mean, let’s face it, i’m not the world’s most widely-read person in Japanese, indeed most Japanese fouth graders are better read than i am in that language, but Bonds of Blood flowed much better, and sentence structure and word choice were much more cohesive.

having said all that, they were both super fun to read, and super uber fun to translate. if you’ve got any questions, i’m opening comments on this post, so ask away~

also, *spoilers* “But Brook knew nothing of that, because in the next instant, his torso was seperated from his neck…” how can that not be the best line of all time? torso? say goodbye to neck. *laughs inappropriately*

thanks for reading,
-wields the Soul Crusher.

Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon – afterword

On the Kadokawa Mini Library’s First Volume

I’ve been right in the middle of the publishing scene for a long time, and I believe that changing times become a flash point for the limitless possibilities of publishing, while at the same time, publishing’s new form becomes the power that cuts open the next era. I have also come to believe that in a journey to the treasury of letters, it doesn’t matter what kind of entrance you stand at or what kind of form you choose.

We wanted something that would be called the jewel of our collections, and so the Mini Library was born. In addition to doing its own part in the popularization of publishing, this Library may become the publishing form predicted for the 21st century.

We gathered up such dreams and expectations, and sent this series into the world.

People of this modern world, please take this great vision in this small package, and hold it in your warm palms.

– 1996, October.
Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co, Ltd Company President Kadokawa Tsuguhiko