Kyoto Asian Studies Group meeting October 16

Niels  Van Steenpaal's picture

Dear colleagues,

The speaker for the October meeting of the Kyoto Asian Studies Group is Daniela Kato, who will present “Translating Nature across Cultures: Kamo no Chômei's Hôjôki in English, between Meiji Japan and Fin-de-Siècle England” (see abstract below).


The lecture will be held on Monday, October 16th from 18:00-20:00 in Room 212 of the Fusokan on the Doshisha University Campus (see link below for access information).




Translating Nature across Cultures: Kamo no Chômei's Hôjôki in English, between Meiji Japan and Fin-de-Siècle England


How are the voices of animals, plants and other non-human forms of existence translated across cultures that have very distinct understandings of nature? What is the ethical responsibility of translators when confronted with texts whose environmental imaginary is different from that of the culture they are translating into? And how do power imbalances affect the translators' work and attitudes in culturally far-flung collaborations, such as those that unfolded between Western Japanologists and their Japanese informants in Meiji Japan? To explore these questions, I will hone in on the life trajectory of a translator in this period, the polymath Japanese naturalist and folklorist Minakata Kumagusu (1867-1941), and on his collaboration with the British Japanologist Frederick Victor Dickins (1838-1915) in the translation of Kamo no Chômei’s Hôjôki. While Hôjôki has occupied a unique place in Japan's environmental imaginary, it is also undeniably part of that constellation called "world literature" - literary works which cross cultural borders through translation. A closer look at some of the contrasting renditions by Minakata and Dickins in the extant versions of their collaborative translation will draw attention to the ecological implications of this "worlding" of Hôjôki. To what extent understanding such implications may lead to more ethical collaborations and ecologically engaged translational interventions in our time of widespread environmental degradation is the key question I would like to discuss in this talk. 


Daniela Kato is associate professor at the Kyoto Institute of Technology. Portuguese-born, her current research aims to reconsider the global circulation of works of literature and art across cultural, geographical, genre and gender boundaries from environmental perspectives.



Sponsored by the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies. For access information see:



Please refrain from bringing food or drinks into the meeting room.

Contact: Niels van Steenpaal,


About the Kyoto Asian Studies Group:

The KASG is a long-standing Kyoto-based research network that hosts monthly research presentations by experts from various Asian Studies fields. Emphasizing long Q&A sessions, we aim to provide an informal atmosphere in which scholars can freely exchange ideas concerning both finished and in-progress research. Admission is free with no registration required, and we always welcome new members and presenters.