Ito Hiromi Poetry Reading

I want to thank everyone for coming. I’m going
to introduce the first half of our reading and then my colleague, Paola Iovene, also
from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, will introduce the second
half. I’m going to introduce two people because we’re actually going to have a tag team, wrestling
match-style reading today. I’ll start with the distinguished English translator of Ito
Hiromi. Jeffrey Angles is a Professor at Western Michigan University. He’s a noted scholar
of modern Japanese literature and a poet in his own right. He’s also a prolific translator
of Japanese literature. Most recently — a work that most of us who work in Japanese
literature are very excited about — his translation of ‘The Book of the Dead’ by Orikuchi
Shinobu has just come out from the University of Minnesota Press. It’s a remarkable work
and we’re delighted to finally have it in English. Jeffrey has also published a large
number of translations of Ito Hiromi’s work and he’ll be reading with her today. Jeffrey
has also made his mark on the world in a new way that we’re all proud of with this book,
which came out last year in Japan. It’s an original collection of poetry in Japanese.
The Japanese title is ‘Watashi no hizukehenkosen’ (My International Date Line). We’re thrilled
that this year this was awarded one of the most important literary prizes in Japan for
Japanese literature. This was just awarded the Yomiuri Literature Prize. I had a hell
of a time finding a copy of this because it’s sold — I just flown in from Tokyo. It’s
sold out everywhere in Tokyo. I had to go around from bookstore to bookstore. It’s causing
quite a sensation in Japan. Jeffrey would be reading today alongside our poet guest,
Hiromi Ito. Hiromi Ito has been, since the 1970s, one
of the most celebrated and respected voices in Japanese poetry. She burst onto the scene
with a series of really revolutionary style poems in the 1970s that depicted women’s sexuality,
psychology, motherhood, in ways they really hadn’t been done in Japanese poetry before.
One of the things that made her work so new was this incredible use of both very colloquial
language — her works feel in some ways like a conversational language and at the same
time, they integrate the rhythms, the tropes, and the style of classical Japanese poetry
and also classical Japanese religious discourse. And so she has produced this style that doesn’t
read like other modern Japanese poetry. Over the course of a couple of days of talking
with her, she stressed again and again how anytime she understands there’s a certain
kind of form that’s expected, her next move is to break that form and to try to do something
that doesn’t fit that form. That really characterizes her poetry. She’s also published a lot of
novels, novellas, and works that are hard to classify on that spectrum. They are poems
and novels at the same time. These include, ‘Wild Grass on the Riverbank’ (Kawara arekusa),
published in 2005 and translated by Jeffrey Angles. Her work demonstrates a strong interest
in Buddhism and Japan’s religious traditions, particularly popular religious traditions,
I would say, popular religious practices. In addition to her own writings, her poetry,
her fiction, her essays, she’s also a noted translator of English language — I’m most
intrigued by the fact that she’s one of the translators of Dr. Seuss into Japanese. She’s
the Japanese translator for ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go.’ If you’ve
read her writings, you’ll know immediately she’s exactly the right person to be translating
things like Dr. Seuss into Japanese. There couldn’t be a better pick to capture the rhythms.
She also translates Karen Hesse and other works. We were joking today as I was introducing
her at an earlier event, we were talking about the prizes she’s been nominated for. She’s
been nominated twice for the Akutagawa Prize, which is the most important literary award
in Japan for fiction. As I was saying that, she interrupted me and said, being nominated
means you didn’t get the award. [ITO:] I was also surprised he got the prize — [BOURDAGHS:] Oh yes, that’s right. He got
it. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. But she has also managed to win some major
Japanese literary prizes, including the Noma Literary Prize for her novella ‘Raninya,’
the Gendai Shi Techo Prize for one of her early poetry collections ‘Sky of Plants.’
And this book, ‘Toge-nuki: Shin Sugamo Jizo engi’ (The Thorn-Puller: New Tales of the
Sugamo Jizo), which is not available in English yet but Jeffrey is slowly working his way
towards an English translation. She made up for the fact that she was nominated but didn’t
win those earlier prizes, because she actually won two major literary prizes for this book,
which is really unheard of in Japan. She won the Hagiwara Sakutaro Prize and the Izumi
Shikibu Prize for this novel. So we look forward to this novel coming out in English so that
we can enjoy it as well. With that, please welcome our two guests and we look forward
to hearing them read. [ITO:] Thank you, Michael. And thank you, University
of Chicago. I feel very honored to present here. [inaudible] I usually don’t say that
kind of stuff, just kind of start reading. I translated Dr. Seuss’ — where…where… [ANGLES:] ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go.’ [ITO:] Yeah. Yeah. I didn’t like it at all because it’s the kind of story for the boys because the illustrations are boys. So I made a little trick and didn’t
tell the Dr. Seuss Foundation. I didn’t tell anybody because the last part, Dr. Seuss says
“so, this and so, this and so,” you know, addressing boys’ names. I did it, “this and
this-kun, this and this-san, this and this-kun -san,” — could you? [ANGLES:] So the word “kun” can only be affixed
to a boy’s name whereas “san” can be affixed to a name that is either a man or a woman. [ITO:] “San” is always for girls in school. [ANGLES:] Oh, in school. Okay. So it invites ambiguity
about the gender and stuff. [ITO:] So that’s what I do. [ANGLES:] That’s a feminist’s take on Dr.
Seuss. [ITO:] [inaudible] poem I’m going to read is
「カノコ殺し」. My daughter’s name is Kanoko.
I had Kanoko and Kanoko was 6-months old when I wrote this poem. She’s still alive. [ANGLES:] Despite the title of the book. [ITO:] She has two kids now and she’s a much
better mother than I am. [ANGLES:] Oh, really? [ITO:] じゃ、適当にやりますのでついてください。 [ANGLES:] はいはいはい。 「そら、脚だ。胎児の大きさを知るには四肢のどこかがいちばんいい。この場合は一五週で正しい」 大きさはほぼ三インチ。もぎとられたもも、ひざ、ふくらはぎ、足、五本のつま先でできている。 「一週間に二回、生きて生まれたことがあります。
ここの女性たちがみんな、 自分の赤ん坊を中絶する気持を何とか
おさめようとしているこのフロアで 赤ん坊の泣き声がしたわけですからね」 というような本を読んでいると妹が このあいだがきんちょをおろした
と言いました 妹の語彙で
がきんちょをおろした がきんちょはおろされた
おめでとうございます [ANGLES:] “Look, a leg. To figure out the
size of a fetus, it’s best to look at one of the limbs. Here, it’s about fifteen weeks.”
It’s about three inches big – a wrenched-off thigh, knee, calf, and foot crowned with five
toes. “Twice a week, one of them comes out alive.
Here on this floor, all of the women are trying to deal somehow with their feelings about
getting an abortion, and then we hear the crying of a baby.”
I was reading that in a book when my little sister said to me
The other day I disposed of that little brat That’s what she said
Her own words Disposed of that little brat
That little brat was disposed of [ITO:] おめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations [ITO:] おめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations [ITO:] おめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations [ITO:] カノコはおろされませんでした
ひろみちゃんはやったことがあるか と妹が言うので
ある とこたえました [ANGLES:] Kanoko was not disposed of
Have you ever done that, Hiromi-chan? Asked my little sister [ITO:] でもがきんちょをおろすというのは
わたしの語彙ではありません カノコはおろされませんでした [ANGLES:] But saying disposed of that little
brat Was not in my vocabulary
Kanoko was not disposed of [ITO:] わたしは
カノコによく似たは ずの胎児の妊娠を中絶したわけです [ANGLES:] I
Aborted an embryo that must have looked just like Kanoko [ITO:] カノコによく似たはずの胎児は成長して
カノコによく似たはずの生児を わたしは得られたかもしれませんが
カノコのことではない [ANGLES:] The embryo that must have looked
just like Kanoko would have grown I might have had a fetus that looked just
like Kanoko But it would not have been her [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます
滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] わたしは搔爬による妊娠中絶したことがあります
滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] I’ve had an abortion using curettage
Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] あなたのあかちゃんは大きかったから
お乳が出ますよと医者は言った と言われてもただへらへら笑っているより対応のしかたが分らない [ANGLES:] The doctor told me your baby was
big so Expect your breasts to swell
I didn’t know how to respond other than to smile nervously
Smile nervously [ITO:] でもおめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Smile nervously [ITO:] ほんとうにお乳は [ANGLES:] Congratulations
Congratulations [ITO:] 出てきました
つよくひねると白い液がにじむ程度で 乳房ははらないし
かゆくもなんともない かわいくもなんともない
おめでとうございます [ANGLES:] My breasts did really swell
So much that a good twist would make white liquid dribble out
My breasts did not swell They don’t itch or anything
They are not cute or anything Congratulations [ITO:] 何にせよ
お乳が出るってことはめでたい 何もなかったところから
のめて甘味もあるものが わくんですもの
それをのめば太れるんですもの お金を出して買う「牛乳」と
同じようなものを わたしが分泌するのですもの
つばや涙やおりものみたいに分泌するのですもの おしっこみたいに分泌するのですもの
肛門から口から尿道から膣から 夥しい乳がわいて出てくるんですもの
うれしくなって たのしくなって
おめでとうございます [ANGLES:] In any event
It is a joyous thing for milk to come out For something sweet to spill forth
From a place that previously had nothing Drink it and you will grow plump
For me to secrete something Like the cow’s milk that you
Spend money to buy I secrete
I secrete it like urine I secrete it like saliva, tears, or vaginal
discharge From my anus, from my mouth, from my urethra,
from my vagina The milk spills out in large quantities
I become happy I become pleased
Congratulations [ITO:] わたしは妊娠中期に中絶したことがあります
あかちゃんが男でしたか女でしたかとたずねたのですが あかちゃんという言い方では嘘をついています
胎児と言わなければいけない 当然、男か女か教えないことになっています
ショックが大きいから 母体の
母体は考える カノコに似た女の胎児かカノコに似た男の胎児か [ANGLES:] I had an abortion in the second
trimester I asked it if the baby was a boy or a girl
But it is a lie to call it a baby I should have called it a fetus
Of course, they won’t tell me if it’s a boy or a girl
Because the shock is too great To the maternal body
The maternal body wonders Was it a female fetus that looked like Kanoko?
Was it a male fetus that looked like Kanoko? [ITO:] わたしは妊娠中毒症したことがあります [ANGLES:] I have had toxemia pregnancy [ITO:] わたしは胞状奇胎したことがあります [ANGLES:] I have had a molar pregnancy [ITO:] わたしは子宮にあふれたつぶつぶを全部見てしまいました [ANGLES:] I saw all of the lumps filling my
uterus [ITO:] あれもやっぱりカノコに似ているはずです [ANGLES:] That must have also looked like
Kanoko [ITO:] わたしは子宮癌したことがあります [ANGLES:] I have had uterine cancer [ITO:] わたしは子宮と卵巣摘出したことがあります [ANGLES:] I have had a radical hysterectomy [ITO:] わたしは分娩したことがあります [ANGLES:] I have had a child [ITO:] わたしは微弱陣痛の吸収分娩したことがあります [ANGLES:] I have had induced labor because
of sluggish contractions [ITO:] わたしは会陰切開したことがあります [ANGLES:] I have had an episiotomy [ITO:] たのしい妊娠したことがあります [ANGLES:] I have had a pleasant pregnancy [ITO:] 子宮は充実して
全身は充血して [ANGLES:] My uterus filled up
My body filled with blood [ITO:] いくらでも過食して
分娩のことを考えると 際限なくマスターベーションできた [ANGLES:] I could overeat as much as I wanted
When I used to think about childbirth I could masturbate endlessly [ITO:] のぼりつめる娩出の瞬間を思いやる
たのしい妊婦の指の動き わたしはだから哺乳したこともある [ANGLES:] I imagine the approaching moment
of birth The pleasant movements of the expectant mother’s
fingers I have also breastfed before [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] カノコは歯が生えて
乳首に噛みつき乳首を噛み切りたい いつも噛み切る隙をねらっている [ANGLES:] After six months
Kanoko’s teeth came in She bites at my nipples, she wants to bite my nipples
off She is always looking for exactly the right moment
to do so [ITO:] カノコはわたしの時間を食い
カノコはわたしの養分をかすめ カノコはわたしの食欲を脅かし
カノコはわたしの髪の毛を抜き カノコはわたしにすべてのカノコの糞のしまつを強要しました [ANGLES:] Kanoko eats my time
Kanoko pilfers my nutrients Kanoko threatens my appetite [ITO:] カノコはわたしの養分をかすめ [ANGLES:] Kanoko pulls out my hair [ITO:] カノコはわたしの髪の毛を抜き Kanoko forces me to deal with all her shit [ITO:] カノコはわたしにすべてのカノコの糞のしまつを強要しました [ITO:] カノコを捨てたい [ANGLES:] I want to get rid of filthy little Kanoko [ITO:] 汚ないカノコを捨てたい [ANGLES:] I want get rid of or kill [ITO:] 乳首を噛み切るカノコを捨てるか殺すかしたい [ANGLES] Kanoko who bites off my nipples I want to get rid of or kill Kanoko [ITO:] カノコがわたしの血を流すまえに
捨てるか殺すかしたい [ANGLES:] Before she spills my blood
I have committed infanticide [ITO:] わたしは嬰児殺ししたこともあります [ANGLES:] I have disposed of dead bodies [ITO:] 死体遺棄したこともあります
産んですぐやればかんたんです [ANGLES:] It’s easier if you do it right after
giving birth [ITO:] みつかりさえしなければ中絶よりかんたんです [ANGLES:] It’s easier than an abortion if
you just don’t get found out [ITO:] みつからずにやってのける自信は
いくらでもあります [ANGLES:] I have all the confidence
To do it without being discovered [ITO:] カノコはいくらでも埋められます 埋められたカノコおめでとうございます [ANGLES:] I can bury any number of Kanokos
Congratulations on burying Kanoko Congratulations
Congratulations [ITO:] 受胎せずにはいられない何十人ものカノコ [ANGLES:] The intercourse I have got to have
The many Kanokos I have got to conceive [ITO:] まびかずにはいられない何十人ものカノコ [ANGLES:] The many Kanokos I have got to weed
out [ITO:] ひとりだけのぞいて
それが今のカノコで それが乳首を噛み切りたい [ANGLES:] Except for one
That is the Kanoko who exists now [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] たのしい継子のせっかん [ANGLES:] Cheerfully punishing a stepchild [ITO:] たのしい継子殺し [ANGLES:] Cheerfully killing a stepchild [ITO:] わたしはしたことがあります [ANGLES:] I have done it before [ITO:] 自分の子の方がかわいい [ANGLES:] My own child is dearer to me [ITO:] たのしい子捨て
わたしはしたことがあります [ANGLES:] Cheerfully abandoning a child
I have done it before [ITO:] 自分の方がかわいい [ANGLES:] My own self is dearer to me [ITO:] おめでとうおめでとう [ANGLES:] Congratulations [ITO:] おめでとうおめでとう [ANGLES:] Congratulations [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations congratulations [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます
滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] ありがとうありがとう
うれしいカノコは 乳首を噛み切る
おめでとうおめでとう うれしいカノコは
乳首を噛み切る わたしはカノコを
たのしく捨てたい [ANGLES:] To want to get rid of Kanoko happily. [ITO:] わたしはカノコを
たのしく捨てたい [ANGLES:] I want to get rid of Kanoko [ITO:] わたしはカノコを
たのしく捨てたい [ANGLES:] I want to throw away Kanoko [ITO:] じめじめじゃなくうしろめたくなく
たのしくカノコを東京に捨てたい [ANGLES:] I want to get rid of Kanoko in Tokyo
Without melancholy, without guilt [ITO:] おめでとうございます
おめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 滅ぼしておめでとうございます てる子ちゃん [ANGLES:] Congratulations on your destruction [ITO:] 中絶しておめでとう [ANGLES:] Teruko-chan
Congratulations on your abortion [ITO:] みほ子ちゃん
たけちゃんをすてておめでとう くみ子さん
ともくんをころしておめでとう [ANGLES:] Mihoko-chan
Congratulations on your abortion [ITO:] まりさん
ののほちゃんもすてれば? まゆみさん
胎児は男でした?女でした? [ANGLES:] Kumiko-san
Congratulations on your abortion りこちゃん
こうたくんもそろそろすてごろ [ANGLES:] Congratulations on killing Tomo-kun [ITO:] みんなで
みんなで みんなで [ANGLES:] Let’s all get rid of them together [ITO:] すてよう [ANGLES:] All of them together [ITO:] 乳首を噛み切りたくて [ANGLES:] All of the sons
All of the daughters [ITO:] 歯を鳴らしている [ANGLES:] Who rattle their teeth [ITO:] 娘たち
息子たち [ANGLES:] Wanting to bite off our nipples [ITO:] Oh, I have to speak English. [ANGLES:] English. Yeah. [ITO:] This kind of stuff, doing it with a man,
is kind of gross isn’t it? [ANGLES:] Is it? [ITO:] Today’s talk this afternoon
was very…how do you call it? Stimulate—? How do you say? [ANGLES:] Stimulating? [ITO:] Yeah. To me. I was thinking so many
things. I’m going to read something from Jeffrey’s translation. This is called ‘Wild Grass on
the Riverbank.’ I always said that this is the original. My Japanese, this one, is called
the “Japanese version.” I’ll read the original. [ANGLES:] That’s about the best compliment
a translator can have. [ITO:] I got on board
I got on and off then on again I got on cars, on busses
Then on planes Then we got off the airplane
The long, long belt clattered forward I pulled little sister’s hand, I urged little
brother along the moving sidewalk Advancing steadily
Advancing steadily, we walked at top speed As the long, long sidewalk clattered forward Long ago, we often walked down this sidewalk
It was fun walking on it Sometimes I’d shake free of mother’s hand
and race along The sights had not changed
They were just the same There were the bodies of immigrants who had
run out of energy along the way and dried up
There were whole families who had nowhere at all to go
And had just laid down there and were sleeping soundly
Mother had once told us, the immigrants are dead
Mother had used the unfamiliar word immigrants She said, we’re immigrants too
There were even more of their corpses than before
There were piles of dried-up corpses in places where there hadn’t been any
before There were reasons for them to come to this
country Even though they might end up like that
Even though they might dry up like that with their children
They had left their lands where they had lived, they had left their languages Languages Adults who had no choice but to come Children brought by parents
Who held their hands or carried them along And when they finally reached the window
They were told, This isn’t where you’re supposed to be,
Go home, Shut your mouth,
Just line up over there But even so, they came to this country
They left behind their languages They left behind their languages And we were just like them [inaudible] [ANGLES:] The man who worked there at the airport stared at his computer How long, he asked,
How long have you been away from this country? I told him
The man who worked there looked at his computer and gave me a stamp
There is a dirty spot on your passport The man who worked there told me,
You can’t get rid of the dirty spot, In order to solve this problem,
You have no choice but to transform So that you look like those who grew up here
naturally, Even though you didn’t grow here naturally
to begin with (Be carried from your native land to foreign
soil, where you will grow wild and propagate) I picked up little sister
And helped little brother out the door The rain had just stopped outside
It was as hot and humid as the riverbank we’d left behind
Filled with light Everything overgrown shone luxuriant green
They spilled out in large numbers Alexa kawaransis
Erigeron canadensis Sorghum halepense
Ones who were not born here naturally, but that had transformed into ones who had
Came outside The passersby and the ones going home
Came outside too Beside me, Conyza sumatrensis started to speak
to Verbena brasiliensis in her awkward language She said, how humid it is,
shouldn’t be like this, not here Verbena brasiliensis responded even more awkwardly,
It was always rain, all winter was rain Most rainy year in a hundred years
Verbena brasiliensis began to stutter in her strong accent,
The rrrr…The rrrrr…The rrrrain Before finally spitting out the words,
Is just like back home [missing Japanese] [ITO:] 私は妹を抱いて弟を
こづいて外に出ました 外は雨上がりで、まるであの河原のように蒸し暑く
光にみちみち 生い繁るものは輝く緑でした
ぞろぞろぞろぞろ出てきました カワラアレクサ
ヒメムカシヨモギ セイバンモロコシ [missing Japanese] もともとは自生していないが自生しているものとしてあらためたものたちが 外に出てきました たんなる通りすがりのものたちも行って
帰るものたちも 外に出てきました なんと湿っていることか、こんなはずはない、
ここでは、 と私たちの脇で オオアレチノギクがアレチハナガサにぎこちない言語で話しかけました ずっと雨でした、ずっと雨でした、
私たちは冬じゅう雨を持っていました、 私たちは冬じゅう雨を持っていました、
百年ぶりの雨の年、 とアレチハナガサがさらにぎこちない
言語で答えました 雨がっ、雨がっ、雨がっ、 と、アレチハナガサは激しい
アクセントでどもりはじめ どもりおえないうちにこんなことばを吐き出しました
故郷のように、 ここで。 Thank you. But then it’s long.
It would take like 3 hours. [ANGLES:] The book is one poem. [ITO:] This is, I just wrote this based on
my own story so in the beginning the “mother” is very much like me but then it changes. It’s
fiction. I think around 2000 there was an incident in Idaho. A family. The father died,
the mother got arrested. The kids, five, six kids, remained. So the authorities came to
help, rescue them. They stood off against the authorities. So I read this little news
and then, wow, this is my story. So I wrote this story. [ANGLES:] One of the things that’s so interesting
about this book is that it features a number of plants, of wild grasses, wild weeds that
grow everywhere. And throughout this book, the plants begin to interact and begin to
speak and even in some passages have intercourse with the characters. They become alive and
[inaudible] on every page. So these border-crossing plants become a metaphor throughout the book
for the vitality of immigrants. [ITO:] Not a metaphor, a reality. [ANGLES:] A reality. Reality of immigrants. [ITO:] I feel like, you know, I’m a plant.
I grow my hair and it’s chlorophyll, making some kind of green stuff. You know? [ANGLES:] Chlorophyll? Yeah. [ITO:] Yeah. And then, you know, most the invasive
plants you can find in Kumamoto, which is my hometown, which got destroyed by the earthquake,
the recent one, came from this country. I mean, Northern America. Or, sometimes South
America. America. Since I was little I really liked that plant. I made picture books about
plants. Then I came here, looking forward to seeing my plants. I didn’t see anything
because California is too dry. So several years ago I visited Jeffrey’s place in Michigan
and I found my Goldenrod there. But the Goldenrod in Japan is this tall, sometimes two meters,
like taller than me. But then the Goldenrod in Michigan is that little. So they have their
own rules and live like Americans. And then, once they became an invasive plant, they don’t care about the rules. They grow like this. So I love them. [ANGLES:] Sure, sure, sure. [ITO:] I’m like a Kudzu. You know, Kudzu?
I’m like a Kudzu. [ANGLES:] It was really funny for me when
she came to visit Kalamazoo. I said, what would you like to see? What would you like
to do? And she said, I want to see Goldenrod! [ITO:] First of all, when I came here, to
this country, I wanted to see [inaudible]. I wanted to hear the sound. Because I was interested
in American Indians’ oral tradition. And came about a translation in the 80s, a guy, who
was an American literature scholar, Japanese guy. He translated American Indians’ poetry
into Japanese, which was a beautiful translation. And very neutral. Really neutral language.
You know, sometimes people use too much emotion, too much colloquialisms, too much dialect
or something like that. But he didn’t use any of those languages. He was very neutral.
When I read that, I thought, this is almost like our oldest poetry, which was called “kojinki”
or “nihon shoki.” So that kind of old tradition. We also have that kind of, almost like casting
spells. Can’t tell the difference between poetry, song, spells. You know, that kind
of songs. It was almost like a translation of these ancient poems. So I wanted to hear,
I wanted to see. That’s why I came here. [ANGLES:] 本当? You didn’t want to just escape from
your husband at the time? [ITO:] Yes, to tell the truth. He’s knows
me too much. The last poem I want to read is called ‘Harakiri.’ Do you know harakiri?
So, Brother Anthony was talking about Koreanness so I wanted to show off my Japaneseness.
So harakiri is a very Japanese thing. I think only Japanese enjoy it. [ANGLE:] Enjoy? That’s an interesting word
choice. [ITO:] Like Mishima Yukio. The very famous
writer who did it. A mutual friend of ours was actually a close friend of his. But anyway,
that was in the 80s. I was a much younger poet. Still, a poet. I saw it. A guy doing
that, harakiri. So that’s what this poem is about. Actually, my latest work, I published
like two weeks ago, is a study from this scene. This harakiri memory is not only gross or
kinky, something like that, but it’s very important for me, down there, my distance,
I think. So, you know, I’ll read it. [ANGLES:] So, can I just say one thing about
this? [ITO:] Yeah. Sure. [ANGLES:] Harakiri, this style of cutting
one’s stomach and killing oneself has apparently, I didn’t know this until hearing it from her,
has become the object of sexual fetishization for certain subcultures. They will get together,
in very intimate settings, will act out scenes. I think you had the opportunity to go and
see one of these harakiri fetish sorts of scenes. That’s reflected in this poem. [ITO:] This guy didn’t kill himself. He just
did it. Just a little. He wanted to but then he cut, like this. But once he put the sword
in his tummy, suddenly his face turned pale. And the room was really filled with the…how
do you say? 血生臭い。 [ANGLES:] Smell of blood. [ITO:] Yeah. ハラキリ 桜が散っています [ANGLES:] Cherry blossoms are falling [ITO:] わたくしは 切腹マニアのO氏にお会いしてたずねたことが
あります どんなひとに
たとえば俳優ならどんなひとに 切腹させたいとお考えになりますか [ANGLES:] Once I visited someone I’ll call
Mr. O who had a passion for harakiri And I asked him
What kind of person Would you like to have commit harakiri for
you? For instance which actor? [ITO:] するとO氏は
ううむそうですなあ、考えたことがないから とおっしゃって
腕を組まれ 上を向いて
ううむ ともうひとつうなられて
沖雅也でしょうなあ とおっしゃいました [ANGLES:] At this Mr. O responded
Hmmm, well, I’ve never really thought about that He crossed his arms Looked up and
Murmured again Hmmm
Oki Masaya, I guess I’ve liked his looks for a long time [ITO:] わたしは京王プラザから飛び降りた彼の顔が彼の生前からずっと以前から 好きでしたから だからそくざにその切腹する彼の顔を
思い浮かべることができます [ANGLES:] I’ve liked his looks for a long time Since way before he jumped off the
Keio Plaza and killed himself Because of that I can immediately call to
mind his face Right as he was cutting himself open [ITO:] 沖雅也にはどうやって
どういうふうに [ANGLES:] I asked, Oki Masaya? How would you
have him do it? [ITO:] 内心わたしは白装束の
浅見内匠頭の状況で切腹する沖雅也を思いながら そうたずねましたら
裸で、立ち腹でしょうなあと O氏はおっしゃいました [ANGLES:] In what way?
I imagined him in Asano Takumi-no-kami’s situation Dressed in white and cutting himself open And Mr. O said, well naked, I guess
He’d do it standing up [ITO:] では場所はどこで
とわたくしはさらに [ANGLES:] And so I asked
And where? [ITO:] ううむ墓場ですなあ [ANGLES:] Hmmm, a graveyard, I guess [ITO:] 桜
桜の散っている [ANGLES:] Where the cherry blossoms are falling [ITO:] 墓場ですなあ、 [ANGLES:] A graveyard [ITO:] 桜の散っている [ANGLES:] where the cherry blossoms are falling [ITO:] その裸というのはすっ裸なのでしょうか [ANGLES:] You say naked, but you mean completely
naked? [ITO:] いや、もちろんふんどしです [ANGLES:] No, of course he’d have a loincloth [ITO:] 陰茎、蟻の門渡り、肛門
性感帯のすべてに密着したふんどしです [ANGLES:] A loincloth that clings to all the
sexy spots The penis, the perineum, the rectum [ITO:] 桜が散っている [ANGLES:] Cherry blossoms are falling [ITO:] 桜が散っている [ANGLES:] Cherry blossoms are falling [ITO:] 桜が散っている [ANGLES:] Cherry blossoms are falling [ITO:] 桜が散っている
墓場には卒塔婆が立ち乱れている [ANGLES:] Cherry blossoms are falling
In a graveyard with wooden markers standing all over [ITO:] いささか猟奇的ですが、
ここはもう、そういうことで [ANGLES:] Yeah, I suppose that’s rather
kinky and weird so I’ll leave it at that [ITO:] では沖雅也にはうんと苦しませて死なせますか、それとも とわたしはさらに [ANGLES:] So I pressed him further
So would you prefer Oki Masaya to die an agonizing death or…? [ITO:] それはやはり苦しませて、長い間苦悶させて死なせたい やはり私の写し絵でしょうから とO氏はおっしゃいました [ANGLES:] Mr. O said, well, I guess I’d have him suffer for quite a while then die a long, agonizing death After all, that’s exactly how I’d want
it to be for me [ITO:] そしてそのあと、白いふんどし姿になり
立ち腹を切られました [ANGLES:] Then he changed into a white loincloth
Then stood up and performed harakiri [ITO:] 切腹は美しくあるべきと氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks harakiri should be beautiful [ITO:] 切腹はやはり男の美学でしょうなあと氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks harakiri is all about
male beauty [ITO:] 桜と氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks about cherry blossoms [ITO:] 満開の桜と氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks about cherry blossoms
in full bloom [ITO:] 満開の桜は散るべきと氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks cherry blossoms in full
bloom should fall [ITO:] やはり美しいうちに死にたいと氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks he should die when he
is still beautiful [ITO:] 氏はあと数年で六十歳になられます [ANGLES:] He will be sixty in just a few years [ITO:] 切腹は浅野内匠頭と氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks Asano Takumi-no-kami got
harakiri right [ITO:] 三島由紀夫にはヤラレタと氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks Mishima Yukio beat him
to it [ITO:] 墓場には卒塔婆と氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks about grave markers
in a graveyard [ITO:] 切腹には桜と
氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks cherry blossoms are perfect
for harakiri [ITO:] 武士道には桜と氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks cherry blossoms suit the
way of the warrior [ITO:] さむらいはつねに死に場所を探しておると氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks samurai are always looking
for a good place to die [ITO:] 氏の先祖がさむらいだったかどうかわたしは聞きもらしました [ANGLES:] I forgot to ask if his ancestors
were samurai [ITO:] 鍛錬しさえすれば痛みは快感と氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] He thinks that with discipline,
pain becomes pleasure [ITO:] ですから鍛錬しておるのですと氏はお考えです [ANGLES:] That’s why — [ITO:] オナニーする [ANGLES:] he’s disciplining himself Jacking off [ITO:] 女性と向かいあって切腹できたら最高でしょうなと氏はお考えです オナニーする [ANGLES:] He said he could commit harakiri
face-to-face with a woman, he’d be in seventh heaven Jacking off [ITO:] オナニーする [ANGLES:] Jacking off [ITO:] さむらい [ANGLES:] Samurai [ITO:] オナニーする [ANGLES:] Jacking off [ITO:] さむらい [ANGLES:] Samurai [ITO:] オナニーする [ANGLES:] Jacking off [ITO:] 猟奇的ですなあ [ANGLES:] Weird and kinky [ITO:] 桜 [ANGLES:] Cherry blossoms [ITO:] オナニーする [ANGLES:] Jacking off [ITO:] 桜 [ANGLES:] Cherry blossoms [ITO:] 桜はなちる [ANGLES:] Cherry blossoms falling [ITO:] 桜 [ANGLES:] Cherry blossoms [ITO:] オナニーする [ANGLES:] Jacking off

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