Richard Medhurst
  • Richard Medhurst 
  • By this author: 32 Latest posted: 2017.03.16
Translator and editor, Received a master’s degree in modern and contemporary poetry from the University of Bristol in 2002. First came to Japan in the same year and taught English for three years in Chiba Prefecture. He has also lived in China and Korea. Worked in Imizu City Hall in Toyama Prefecture for five years until 2013, when he moved to Tokyo and started full-time translation. Joined in 2014.
“Killing Commendatore”: A First Look at Murakami Haruki’s Latest Novel2017.03.16

Murakami Haruki’s new novel Kishidanchō goroshi (Killing Commendatore) was released in Japan on February 24, 2017. There have been no announcements about when an English translation will see the light of day, but fans will probably have to be patient. 1Q84 came out in English a year and a half after the 2010 publication of the third volume in Japanese. There was also over a year between the Japane…

Talking About The Emperor in Japanese2016.11.02

When service assistants talk to customers in Japan, they show courtesy by using honorific language, known as keigo. If the customer is king, appropriate deference is required. A discrepancy in rank—whether in a brief service interaction or within a company—brings into play different vocabulary than that used in casual, everyday conversation. It can take time even for a Japanese graduate new to t…

“Yojijukugo”: The Compressed Poetry of Four-Character Idioms2016.08.20

“Fall down seven times, stand up eight” has become a popular inspirational quote in English, extolling the virtues of perseverance in the face of repeated setbacks. An online search for related images will find countless motivational posters as well as a few tattoos. It is a translation of 七転八起 (shichiten hakki),(*1) one example of a yojijukugo, or four-character idiomatic compound. As the na…

How Japanese Children Learn Kanji2016.06.13

During their six years in elementary school, Japanese children learn over 1,000 kanji. In this time, they greatly increase their reading sophistication, moving from picture books to short novels and simple biographies. Characters are all around them and often graded to their level, whether they are taking lessons in social studies or other subjects, practicing calligraphy, or even reading manga …

Doctor Yellow Keeps the Shinkansen Network Healthy2016.04.28

One of Japan’s most famous doctors is a brightly colored train that whizzes around the country’s high-speed rail network. The Shinkansen test train, popularly known as Doctor Yellow, is used to monitor the condition of tracks and overhead wires, helping to preserve the enviable safety record of the high-speed rail service. The vehicle’s nickname derives from its diagnostic function and distinctive…

Digging into the Past with Burial Mound Cakes2015.12.05

The burial mound cakes of Japanese confectioner Petit Marché have won unexpected popularity for the small company based in Nara, western Japan. Attention to detail has helped the appeal of the cakes to stretch beyond archaeologists with a sweet tooth; Internet and magazine coverage has given them nationwide fame. Burial mounds, or kofun, can be found through much of Japan. They provide the name…

Preparing for Disaster a Part of Japanese Life2015.11.14

The Japanese word bōsai is broad in meaning, covering how to prepare for disasters and how to react when they take place. Children start learning about the topic from an early age in Japan. This education is bolstered by regular public awareness campaigns and drills, particularly around September 1, the anniversary of the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake, which devastated Tokyo and killed more than 100…

Cricket Finds a Niche in Japan2015.11.02

England’s surprise early exit from the Cricket World Cup in 2015 inspired a cheeky tweet from the Japan Cricket Association, suggesting a game in Japan to fill up the gap in its schedule. As the tweet went viral, it may have been the first time for many cricket fans around the world to learn that Japan actually has a team. But while it remains very much a minor sport at present, cricket in Japan i…

Sounds to See and Feel: Japanese Onomatopoeia and Beyond2015.10.13

Potsu potsu, the rain begins to fall. People open umbrellas as it continues to drizzle, shito shito, and quicken their pace as it drops steadily, para para, before dashing for shelter as the skies open and water pours down, zā zā, on their heads. The Japanese language has a huge number of phrases for describing sound—with many more onomatopoeic words than English—as well as similar words that g…

Student Voices: On Life and Learning in Japan2015.09.05

Naganuma School in Shibuya, Tokyo, has been teaching foreign students to speak Japanese since 1945. Its annual speech contest gives learners at the school the chance to step on stage and put their study into practice, whether they are at elementary, intermediate, or advanced level. At this year’s event on August 28, contestants were backed by an enthusiastic crowd of their peers bearing flags and …

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