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Hiroaki Sato

Hiroaki Sato

Born: March 21 1942 in Taipei, Taiwan
Resides: New York City, New York, USA
E-mail: hironan (at) ix (dot) netcom (dot) com

Hiroaki Sato, a leading translator of Japanese poetry into English, was born the son of an officer of the Special Higher Police (“thought police”) in 1942, in Taiwan, then part of Japan. After Japan’s defeat, in 1945, the family was forced back to Japan. He majored in English at Doshisha University in Kyoto, and came to New York, in 1968, under the generous sponsorship of a young American couple, Rand and Sondra Castile. The following year he was employed by the New York branch of the Japanese government’s trade agency, JETRO, and has stayed there ever since. His books of translations of Japanese poetry into English started to appear in 1973. Among his recent books are Miyazawa Kenji: Selections (University of California Press, 2007), Nishiwaki Junzaburō: Poems (Green Integer, 2007), and Japanese Women Poets: An Anthology (M.E. Sharpe, 2007). His books on haiku include One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English (Weatherhill, 1983) and Eigo Haiku (Haiku in English: A Poetic Form Expands, Simul, 1987). Among the American poets he has translated into Japanese are John Ashbery, Geoffrey O’Brien, Michael O’Brien, and Jerome Rothenberg. He has been an adjunct professor (visiting faculty) at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, North Carolina, since the mid-1980s, and at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, since the 1990s. He is writing a biography of Mishima Yukio inspired by Inose Naoki’s political biography of the man, Persona (1995). He lives in New York City and writes a monthly column, “The View from New York,” for The Japan Times.

Awards and Other Honors: He won, with Burton Watson, the 1982 PEN American Center Translation Prize for From the Country of Eight Islands: Anthology of Japanese Poetry (Anchor Books, 1981; reprint, Columbia University Press, 1986). He also won the 1999 Japan-United States Friendship Commission Japanese Literary Translation Prize for Breeze Through Bamboo: Kanshi of Ema Saikō (Columbia University Press, 1997). He was President of the Haiku Society of America, 1979-1981.

Books Published: One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English (Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1983, pp. 241); That First Time: Renga on Love & Other Poems (Laurinburg, NC: St. Andrews Press, 1988. pp. 82). Translations/Poetry: Poems of Princess Shikishi (Hanover, NH: Granite Publications, 1973, pp. 12); Ten Japanese Poets (Hanover, NH: Granite Publications, 1973, pp. 136); Spring & Asura: Poems of Kenji Miyazawa (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1973, pp. 104); Mutsuo Takahashi: Poems of a Penisist (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1975, pp. 108); Lilac Garden: Poems of Minoru Yoshioka (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1976, pp. 110); Howling at the Moon: Poems of Hagiwara Sakutarō (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1978, pp. 142); See You Soon: Poems of Taeko Tomioka (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1979, pp. 100); Chieko and Other Poems of Takamura Kōtarō (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1980, pp. 164); A Bunch of Keys: Selected Poems by Mutsuo Takahashi (Trumansburg, NY: The Crossing Press, 1984, pp. 108); From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry, with Burton Watson (New York: Doubleday & Company [paper] and Seattle: University of Washington Press [hardcover], 1981; paperback edition reissued by Columbia University Press, 1986, pp. 652); A Future of Ice: Poems and Stories of a Japanese Buddhist, Miyazawa Kenji (San Francisco, CA: North Point Press, 1989, pp. 254); Osiris, The God of Stone: Poems of Gōzō Yoshimasu (Laurinburg, NC: St. Andrews Press, 1989, pp. 80); Mutsuo Takahashi: Sleeping Sinning Falling (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1992, pp. 107); A Brief History of Imbecility: Poetry and Prose of Takamura Kōtarō (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1992, pp. 261); Right under the big sky, I don’t wear a hat: The Haiku and Prose of Hōsai Ozaki (Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 1993, pp. 142); String of Beads: Complete Poems of Princess Shikishi (Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1993, pp. 190); Bashō’s Narrow Road: Spring & Autumn Passages (Stone Bridge Press, 1996, pp. 186); Voice Garden: Poems of Mutsuo Takahashi (Star Valley Library, 1996, pp. 160) [Bilingual edition with a CD-ROM recording of the poet reciting his poems accompanied by Yūji Takahashi’s music]; Breeze Through Bamboo: Kanshi of Ema Saikō (Columbia University Press, 1997, pp. 240); Reiko Koyanagi: Rabbit of the Nether World (Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 1999, pp. 62); Not a Metaphor: Poems of Kazue Shinkawa (Middletown Springs, VT: P.S., A Press, 1999, pp. 116); The Girl Who Turned Into Tea: Poems of Minako Nagashima (Middletown Springs, VT: P.S., A Press, 2000, pp. 56); The Village Beyond: Poems of Nobuko Kimura (Middletown Springs, VT: P.S., A Press, 2002, pp. 56); Santoka: Grass and Tree Cairn (Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2002, pp. 74); Howling at the Moon: Poems and Prose of Hagiwara Sakutarō (Los Angeles, CA: Green Integer, 2002, pp. 316) [Expanded edition of the 1978 book with the same title]; Running in the Margins: Poems of Akira Tatehata (Middletown Springs, VT: P.S., A Press, 2003, pp. 112); Toward Meaning: Poems of Kikuo Takano (Middletown Springs, VT: P.S., A Press, 2004, pp. 116); Miyazawa Kenji: Selections (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007, pp. 248); The Modern Fable: Poems of Nishiwaki Junzaburō (Los Angeles, CA: Green Integer, 2007, pp. 180); Japanese Women Poets: An Anthology (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2007, pp. 590). CompilationsOne Hundred Frogs (Weatherhill, 1995, pp. 127) [Collection of more than 140 English translations of Bashō’s haiku: FURUIKE YA KAWAZU TOBIKOMU MIZU NO OTO -- originally a chapter in the 1983 book with the same title]; Erotic Haiku (IBC Publishing, 2004, pp. 120) [Collection of 150 English haiku with Japanese translations]. Prose: The Sword and the Mind (New York: The Overlook Press, 1985, pp. 133, hardcover reissued by Barnes and Noble, 2005); Legends of the Samurai (New York: The Overlook Press, 1995, pp. 391); Mishima Yukio: Silk and Insight: A Novel (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1998, pp. xviii + 220); My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Yukio Mishima (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002, pp. 307).

Selected Work
 
An old pond: a frog jumps in—the sound of water
Furuike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto
                                      Matsuo Bashō [1644-1694]
 
 
 
 
suspended over young rush blades, a spider's web
ashi no wakaba ni kakaru kumo no su
                                      Takarai Kikaku [1661-1707]
 
 
 
 
Thud-thud upon the flowers drops the horse turd
Doka-doka to hana no ue naru bafun kana
                                      Kobayashi Issa [1763-1827]
 
 
 
 
Leaves fall fall into my alms bowl too
Ki no ha furu furu hachinoko e mo
                                      Taneda Santoka [1882-1940]
 
 
 
 
Exiles' graves where wheat-pounding mortars resound
Runin-ra no haka mugi tsuku usu no hibiku tokoro
                                      Ogiwara Seisensui [1884-1976]
 
 
 

Credits: An old pond" "suspended over" and "Thud-thud" – One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English [Translations by Hiroaki Sato] Weatherhill: New York, 1983); "Leaves fall" and "Exiles' graves"- Santoka :: Grass and Tree Cairn [Translations by Hiroaki Sato; Illustrations by Steven Addiss] (Red Moon Press: Virginia, 2002).

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