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Yusunari Kawabati Works

Updated on October 28, 2014

Translating Yasunari Kawabata’s Works

Table of contents

Abstract 2

Introduction 3

Chapter 1- Concept of Beauty and Culture 10

Chapter 2-Translating Japanese 24

Chapter 3- Kawabata and his works 35

Chapter 4- Translating Kawabata 46

Conclusion 57

References 62


This article is a reflection of the efforts invested in understanding Yasunari Kawabata’s work. Emphasis has been placed on exclusively understanding the novelist’s work as projected through translations. The author’s style of writing and its niche in history has been meticulously dissected. Beauty and aestheticism is part of human life from time immemorial, it is the basis of art and culture. Aestheticism is related to the study of philosophy in the branch of axiology .Aestheticism is a sensational study; it demands great attention to feelings and emotions. Studying aestheticism, adds value to the manner in which art and culture is appreciated in life. The vale of beauty differ from one continent to another, in Africa, beauty is measured in terms of quantity and big is beautiful as it represents strength and agility. In the United States of America, beauty is small and elegant, it exalts the saying that good things come in small quantities. This tow aspects of totally differ with one another. This research paper looks at beauty aestheticism in the Japanese culture. The key questions to answer are, what is the definition of beauty among the Japanese people, what was its origin, it is highly valued or not, how can it be categorized in relation to aestheticism in other parts of the world. What is the degree attached to the value of beauty both in the past, present and what future does it have ?. The paper will also illuminate on the literary works of authors ho have decided to write on beauty and aestheticism in Japan. It mainly focuses on Kawabati’s literary work. The main objective of the work is to provide the reader with an insight of the Japanese form of beauty and how beauty is expressed. Secondly it measures the student’s skills in research methodology. This work is a thesis, done to partially fulfill the requirements for a master’s degree.


Measured by international standing, Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) is Japan's most eminent man of novels. He is the first Japanese to earn a Nobel Prize. “ The same prize was awarded to the Japanese novelist, Yusunari Kawabata,whose novel.yuiguni(Snow country) was one of the translations to appear in 1956” (Croce, 1967 p7) Most of his novels and short stories have been translated in several languages: with English and Russia being just but a few examples of the languages that have been used. The number of translations of his works has grown and also the varieties of languages used have multiplied since 1968, when he won that Nobel Prize award. It is from the translation that non-Japanese readers have since been given opportunities to evaluate Kawabata’s work. His work has faced varied criticism, but the general conclusion would seem to be that he is specifically more removed from non-Japanese audience. His work is directed exclusively to an audience of one language and that language happens to be Japanese. This is in opposition to his fellow Japanese authors like Yukio Mishima or Kenzaburo Oe, whose works are easily understood` by non-Japanese readers .

I agree that the theme of his work is a little removed from his colleagues’, but I would wish to value that distance as almost more temporal than spatial[1], certainly more visual than geographic, more an issue of the remoteness between lyric and prosaic than between Oriental and Occidental; I consider Kawabata's fiction as some of the supreme lyric of the 20th century, and a link to a superior understanding of some of the finest things in our own tradition of lyric poetry.

There is a great distance between Kawabata and European history in his Nobel Prize speech (translated by Edward Seidensticker as Japan the Beautiful and Myself). It is observed that he has strong ties with Japanese aesthetic tradition. This bond is basically stronger with the tanka poetry of ancient Zen priests, then with the tea ceremony, calligraphy[2], flower arranging, landscape gardening, ink painting, ceramic art, and, finally, the whole variety of spiritual ideals originating from the Zen Buddhist discipline developed in Japan in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries, but supported by the nature imagery of cherry blossoms, maple leaf, autumn moon, and winter snow extracted from the elementary Shinto values and the orthodox[3] literature of even earlier centuries .

Kawabata agrees that his race has got nothing to do with the direction that his work has taken, but the direction comes more from his developed senses. These senses have grown hand in hand with his experience through the arts, and this might be the lifeblood of the Renaissance spirit in Europe as well. The authority and selective trends of such spiritual development are perhaps unfriendly to our self-consciously democratic century, but they may well become more and more eye-catching before the century is over, as ideals foreseen upon the acquisition and consumption of material wealth comes to be less and less defendable.

And, in Kawabata's work, this tempering of the spirit deals with theory of love stuck in the principle of sublimation that I also find to be of the fundamental nature of the Renaissance sonnet cycles, when--between the masterpiece of Francis Petrarch's 319 sonnets in Italy in the middle of the 14th century and William Shakespeare's 154 sonnets in England at the last part of the 16th century .

In this exercise I will endeavor to look at Kawabata’s literatures, not using his original works alone but I will employ the translations that have been brought forth to quench the thirst of non-Japanese readers. Focus will be pinned on the impact that this translations have on readership and on the work of this novelist. The study will be full covered after several questions have been answered. For instance, have the translations given a replica of the meaning that is exposed in the original Japanese works? How does the impression created by the original novels compare with one created by the translations? Are there any disparities? If yes, what are they and how do they affect the audience and other factors at play? What factors led to the disparities in the translations? The study will also look at the impact of the translations on the audience; have the translations helped in the expansion of the audience? Which types of audiences have been attracted as a result of the translations? Up to what levels have the translations satisfied the intended audiences? Can we say that the translations were necessary? And, more importantly who were the people behind these translations? What factors stimulated them to engage in the translations? What problems did they face during the exercise of translation? How did the problems affect the final work? The original perception of non-Japanese readers will also be examined. What has changed in terms of perception by non-Japanese readers since the translations came into being? Has the emptiness that existed before the translations been filled? The other reason behind this study is to establish if indeed there are other individuals who have handled this subject. If there are, how deep have they handled the subject? Because this study intents to fill the gaps that have been left by other attempts. The 1983 paper by Susan Arnold from the Department of English, Saga Medical School titled Artist of the painted word is among the many works that try to explain the work of Kawabata. Susan begins her paper with expounding on the difficulties that people who don’t speak Japanese face in their pursuit to enjoy Yasunari’s novels. She further associates the novelist’s work with painting. He further brings to focus the fact that Kawabata’s work springs Marjory from the visual world. This he does by giving reasons that are grounded in the artist’s upbringing. Her analysis also points to the fact that Kawabata had an association with the Shin Kankaku, or Neo-sensualist group led by Yokomitsu Riichi. This is seen as the group that shaped Kawabata’s work. There are other several authors who have written and researched on the works of Kawabata. As beautiful as Susan’s work may appear, it has nothing on the translations.

David Pollack in his book, Reading against Culture: Ideology and Narrative in the Japanese Novel deals clearly with Kawabata’s work. Of particular interest is chapter seven of this book, which talks about the ideology of aesthetics. Pollack’s work in this chapter talks about Kawabata’s thousand cranes and the snow county. It is very interesting to read how Pollack digs into the aesthetic representation of Kawabata. Another writer who has expounded on Kawabata’s work is Barbara Stoler Miller. The book written by Miller is titled “Masterworks of Asian Literature in Comparative Perspective: A Guide for Teaching.” Beginning on page 481, the book talks about Kawabata Yasunari’s snow county and explains the concept of beauty in the Japanese context.

From the above literatures it can be observed that so much has been written on Kawabata’s work. All in all there are several gaps that need to be filled. For instance very few literatures are available on the effects of the translations of his work[4]. That is the chief reason why I have undertaken to research on this area. It is also important that for the sake of knowledge and direction that several books should be written. This paper is also responding to the uncertainty that surrounds the quality of the translations

To understand the translations and their significance a field research is very important. This field research will help collect materials that will be paramount in the following stages of the study. Proper preparations are very vital when planning for the field study.

From the topic of study, it is clear that the research will often be carried out in learning institutions. But for historical purposes a visit to the historical libraries, media houses and the society at large will be unavoidable. The method of collecting data will involve interviews, questionnaires, report writing, filming and sound recording. While gathering data, interaction with students, teachers, novel readers and the society at large will be essential. In order to collect data that is reliable, the sources of information and the information itself should be tested for accuracy. The academic backgrounds of the interviewees and their wealth of knowledge on the subject of study will be tested to establish the reliability of the information that they will give. The academic backgrounds can be confirmed by checking with the alma maters declared. There will be no reason to check for authenticity of information collected from institutions like the libraries since these are sources with authority.

The next stage will be arranging and sorting out in different groups the information collected. This will make working with the information comfortable. Selection of the information important to the topic at hand will then follow. The most significant part of the whole process will be analysis of the data. The data will be analyzed by evaluating the information collected with the hypothesis advanced. The entire hypothesis devised will be compared with the responses collected from the sources. Views on the comparisons will form the fruits of the project. The pronouncements should be founded on the critical analysis of the information. Conclusions will be created by use of variant techniques. The procedure should be both qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative investigation is not entirely a process of number of items or statements coming in modules. Its chief purpose is usually in the variety of meanings, attitudes, and interpretations inherent in each category.

The questions that were put forward will not have empirical responses. The procedure that will be regularly used will be qualitative analysis of the information collected. Strong analytical and interpretational skills will be required to assess and establish the pictorial and video representations that will be present.

Chapter one

Concept of Beauty and Japanese culture

Definitions of aestheticism

The meaning of the term aestheticism relates to the word sensuous which implies beauty. Beauty is usually in the eyes of the beholder, meaning different individuals perceive beauty in different and there no universally accepted standard of beauty over there was a movement in Europe called the aesthetic movement which had a philosophical foundation of Immanuel Kent. The Aesthetic Movement was given a loose definition in literature, fine art, furniture, metalwork, ceramics, stained glass, textiles, and wallpapers in later nineteenth-century Britain. Aesthetics can also be defined as the study of sensory or emotional values which focus on the judgment of emotion and taste .Scholars in this field regard it as a critical reflection on nature and the environment, on art and the culture of people on which the study is based on. The study of aesthetics is directly related to axiology in philosophy. It pays attention to new methods of looking at things. In order to judge aesthetic, one must greatly rely on their sensory level and be able to fully understand the object of discussion. Aesthetic judgment also rely on the studying of both the advantages or goodness related to it as well as the bad sides related to it. “ A complete description of the aesthetic attitude of artists contemplation ,therefore includes not only elements of disinterestedness ,distancing or detachment but also intense emotional sympathy and creative imagination”( Odin,2001.p 4).

Aestheticism is an aspect of art which enhances the clarity of different artistic works. There are six universal human aesthetic values proposed by Dennis Dutton as follows; first one is expertise virtuosity- that for good work is formed through cultivation and great admiration, the Second, is simple pleasure where human beings value art for the sake of the eyes but not as a basic need. The third value is style where he focuses on the differentiation and originality in comparison to other works, the fourth is criticism, where he alludes that art wok is open to both positive and negative comments, the fifth is special focus, an art work should dwell on a specific topic for example beauty and elegance. The sixth vale is the imitation; it should borrow from other quotas like music and science. Moreover, there is great need for imagination; different individuals should be in a position to give different meanings to the aesthetic work.

History of Aesthetics

Ancient art originated from seven most well known civilizations in Rome, India, china ,Egypt ,Greece, Mesopotamia and Persia .Each of these civilization contributed greatly to the appreciation of aesthetics because they had very unique art works. Greece played a major role in shaping the Western perception, value and categorization of art and aesthetics. There are different sentimental associated to art by different historians, Plato referred to beauty as a piece of art that embraced proportion and harmony in all the components. Aristotle pointed out that the most important factor in beauty was order, balance or symmetry and particularity .

Wabi- Sabi is a representation on Japanese view of aesthetic and focuses more on the acceptance view of aesthetics. In Japanese, aesthetic can also be defined as “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" (according to Leonard Koren in his book Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers). This explanation is derived from Buddhist belief of the three existences; the Annicca which implies lack of permanence, and so events keep changing in one’s lifetime. Relating this to beauty, we see that beauty is a dynamic concept that keeps changing from time to time and can also have multiple meanings. The second one is Dukkha which means lack of satisfaction, in relation to aesthetics ,no definition of beauty can maximize it real meaning. Thirdly there is Annatta that embraces the spirit of community or society, Art and aesthetics should belong to the entire community but not oneself. The major of the wabi-sabi are simplicity, intimacy, naturalization process, lack of balance or asymmetrical and calmness. According to design study, wabi can be regarded to as an imperfect or incomplete work, this notion is experienced by the styles adopted in Japanese pottery, the art work like mugs are usually rough and un finished. The pottery work is sold at very high prices, though the buyer is left alone to pull out meaning or the rough texture of the work. The Japanese aesthetic value is pegged on wabi-sabi which is also associated with loneliness .Aestheticism is somehow related to the Japanese religion .Art in Japan started way long in the 10th millennium BC and continues to acquire new structure as years go by.( Ketan, 1999 p. 14 ).

Historically, Japan has undergone sudden invasions on its culture and heritage though it continues to maintain very little contact with the outside world. The first and earliest aesthetic work in Japan were created in the 7th and 8th centuries, this works were more inclined to religion i.e. Buddhism that had strong roots in China. In the 9th century Japan sought to pursue its own route in terms of art and aesthetics .It now shifted too much attention on the religious aspect of art and included social and political aspects in it. After the (1467 -1477) war, Japan began looking at aestheticism in a new way. Japanese ceramics are the most renowned ancient pieces of art work in the world. Several individuals including Beardsley Aubrey participated very critically in the formulation of aestheticism; they were artists who lived between 1872 and 1898, known for fantastic and highly decorative drawings. In the 1890s no English artist was as illustrious as Aubrey Beardsley, apart from Oscar Wilde who actually advanced the aestheticism movement that supported the idea of art existing for the purpose beauty alone. Two major factors influenced Beardsley’s work; curved lines characteristic of art nouveau, and the bold sense of design found in Japanese woodcuts. most conspicuous feature of his work was the obvious sensuality of the women in his drawings. The second one is Gautier Théophile; Born in 1811 he was a French poet, journalist, critic, and novelist. He is remembered for having wielded strong influence in the period of changing sensibilities in French literature, starting from the early Romantic period up to the aestheticism and naturalism of the end of the 19th century. His literary productivity was extraordinary, but his art and dramatic criticism were enough to ensure his reputation (Wikipedia, 2000 p.1).

Special features of aestheticism

There are several fundamental aspects that characterize aestheticism. Chief among them is the autonomy that works of art enjoy. That, these works of art are superior is another aspect that belongs to aestheticism. Furthermore, the moral and social conditions of these works of art should be independent. These features are among the fundamental aspects of aestheticism that we shall critically assess in this study.

Let’s first begin by defining autonomy. Autonomy is generally defined as a state whereby a system, be it a government, organization or an individual is self-governing. (Dworkin, 1988 p.6).This means that there is no external influence that can change the running of the system without the system’s consent. Therefore, autonomy in works of art signifies the existence of art in isolation of other principles. It also means that art resists the influence of aspects like politics, religion, and social-economical elements. The pioneers of aestheticism put a lot of emphasis on use of art for beauty’s sake and nothing else. The modern day uses of art have gone against this arrangement. Art is in existence for a variety of functions other than for beauty’s sake.

The historical aspects of aestheticism can not be complete without mentioning aesthetic judgment as explained by the pioneers of this phenomenon. Aesthetic judgment as a feature of aestheticism was proposed by individuals like Kent. The judgment of taste was a concept that had particular prominence in the description of beauty. Kent asserted that two conditions were necessary for judgment to merit being judgment of taste – subjectivity and universality. For a judgment to exhibit subjectivity, it was compulsory that the aspect of pleasure or displeasure be felt. This was an aspect that greatly differentiated empirical judgment and judgment resulting from taste (Kent,1994.p 50).

The features of aestheticism as illustrated above have their foundation in history. Remember, that modern day definition of aestheticism has features that make it outstanding. The features that distinctively identify aestheticism are grouped in two categories. These categories are intrinsic and extrinsic aesthetic features. When dealing with intrinsic features, we handle aspects that are physically present and perceivable, and these include: colour, loudness, physical size, or any characteristic of a work that can be heard, seen, or physically perceived by an audience. On the other hand extrinsic features are those aspects of the work that can not be physically felt but they can only be acknowledged by people who have appropriate knowledge. These features include the history of the work, the age of the work and the technology employed in the production of the work.

Japanese view of beauty

There are several concepts that are employed in the description of beauty in Japan. These concepts are fundamental as far as the understanding of beauty by Japanese people is concerned. One term that is very important in the description of beauty by Japanese is wabi-sabi. This is an expression that is formed from two different words. It is necessary to understand that the two terms have different origins but they are related. The word wabi basically means miserable or desolate while the word sabi means loneliness, sadness or aloneness. The meaning for which they were intended is only realized when the words are used in their joined form. Furthermore, an autumnal or chilly feeling is what the inventor of the expression wanted the expression to portray. This concept is more synonymous with Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591); who was a tea ceremony master. Away from the literal meaning the above expression can be condensed into a phrase that has the meaning; the beauty of imperfection. In addition, this term describes an attitude to life that appreciates the hidden, obscure, small and unostentatious, while coming to terms with the fact that everything changes and nothing is permanent.

Apart from wabi-sabi, Japanese observe beauty in co-operation, harmony and interactions. These people view culture as a natural phenomenon and the naturalness is only made possible if and when people act as nature does. Selfish ego that pushes people to act in disharmony with their inner self is unnatural. And, for existence it is essential to exhibit the quality of Kami in all human endeavors. To achieve this, one has to appreciate thoughtful discipline that has two aspects. First, one is not supposed to view oneself as separate and independent from others and the surrounding environment. This illusion cultivates selfish desires and it should be avoided at all cost and at all times. The second aspect talks about the bond between oneself and kami. This aspect puts a lot of emphasis on concentrating upon the essence of being until there is a direct communion with the quality of Kami.

Japanese teleology emphasizes that the most important aspect in our lives is a sensitive awareness of our connection with Kami. Along this line, Kami is seen to present itself as beauty-not merely of appearance but of the spirit; it is the inner beauty exposing itself outward. Kami is represented as the beauty of the inner-most nature of things. The essence of being human is to realize this quality that is present in things as beauty. Then one ought to creatively convey this Kami quality in every of ones activities and encounters. Thus aesthetics is as natural as a bird’s song. The sincere, creative expression of emotion comes about as a refinement and fulfillment of our natural connections.

Japanese concept of Beauty

Observation of Japanese art brings out one fundamental aspect; there is an enormous distance between western art and Japanese art. Furthermore, it is a big mistake for one to imagine that there are great similarities in Japanese culture with other Asian countries. Many scholars who have attempted to study Japanese culture have always equated the significance of Japanese beauty to religion in Japan. Beauty in Japan has been frequently described by scholars as the outstanding positive characteristic of Japanese culture as a whole. It is convenient to assert that aesthetics in the Japanese culture is expressed in several ideals. The most notable ones include: makoto, aware, okashi, yugen, sabi, wabi, shibui, miyabi, hosomi, and mei. Before we look at the cultural concept of beauty in Japan, it is important to evaluate a few ideals that form the building blocks of the Japanese beauty concepts “Sources of the Wabi Aesthetic, as we have seen in the preceding sections, the wabi ideal of beauty sets simple and unpretentious expression above the complex.”(Hume, 1995 p.215)

Simplicity is a factor that is ingrained in all the ideals that define beauty in Japanese culture. When talking about simplicity, the absence of artificiality and the quest to reveal the natural functionality of materials are always important. This is closely related to the Zen Buddhists ideals of turning away from the vanity of the outer world. These Buddhists principles emphasize the need to be contented with sincerity and authenticity. Also characteristic are inner concentration produced by meditation, tranquility, and an orientation to inner spiritual values.

It is true that Japanese ontology have been asserting that nature cannot be separated from aesthetic value. In addition, beauty is as a result of the wholesum of all nature’s parts. This awesome presence of the whole which permeate all its various parts in fact signifies the permeation of nature, directly experierenced as the solid aesthetic immediacy of lived experience. “Japanese readers of literature first used the word sabi to try to describe the muted and subtle beauty of twelfth- and thirteenth- century poetry, ..”(Powel, 2004 p.26)

The principle of yugen is the most prominent feature of beauty in Japan . The two Chinese ideographs that comprises the word yugen literally signifies background, hidden deapth or deeper mystery. In yugen the principle of ''shadowy darkness' stands for the aesthetic value content inherent in all phenomena due to their hidden depths. The beauty of yugen is one and the same asmthe Japanese notion that superficial existence has an ephemeral nature. Yugen is valued as something of the true essence of a thing that lies underneath/beyond its form.

The paramount aspect of yugen is silence. This is not the traditional silence that is possible with the lack of words, but as a positive phenomenon as powerful as or more than words. Silence is invisible, yet is so present that we can feel it as physically as we feel our bodies. It is not tangible, yet we can feel it as directly as we feel that which is disturbing. It cannot be explained in words, yet it is quite clear and distinct. Silence gives to things inside it something of a power that necessiates independent being. The significance of silence is that the autonomous being of things is made strong in silence.

Explained otherwise, Japanese understanding of Beauty is that it is a positive feeling which encomposes life, motion, the soul and the human linkage to the essence of existence. The Shinto ideals which clouded Japanese aesthetic practices graced poetry, drama, painting, gardens, tea ceremony and most other aesthetic activities during this period were included in the conception of yugen.(Hume, 1995. p. 23)

Waka poetry exihibits yugen principles by helping to visualize an image of unfathomable depths as if what is projected has a background that continues into pridordial mysetery. Moreover, as critics of japanese literature often indicates,the central theme of a waka poem is not simply the object discriminated in the foreground, but also the primordial depths of the background. The main theme in shinto is available in this background. Waka employs the concept of background to sensitize the consciusness to Kami. Japan has a national culture that distinctively conditions aestheticism this comes in the form of mythology, religion, and folkloric tradition as well as by ideals that have their roots in India, China, and Korea. The aesthetic values present in Japan get specific features mainly from Shinto, the old religion of Japan, and from their mythology, the core of which is the awe-inspired deification of nature.

In this respect Shinto can be evaluated as ecstatic enchantment with the frequently changing beauty of natural phenomena.

Japanese understanding of aestheticism

The origin of Japanese beauty has its roots in Buddhism. Most people consider Buddhism as a religion that is founded on the teachings associated with Siddhartha Gautama. Gautama fondly known as “the Buddha”, a term that means the awakened one, was born in the present day Nepal. It is believed that he lived and worked in the northeastern region of the Indian subcontinent. Buddhism is a form of religion that helped its members to end their suffering by comprehending the true nature of the phenomena. This helped them to avoid the cycle of suffering and rebirth. To achieve their desires, Buddhists employed: ethical conduct and altruistic behavior, devotional practices, ceremonies and the invocation of bodhisattvas, avoidance of worldly matters, physical exercises, study, and the development of wisdom.

Around two hundred years ago, the comprehensive development of aesthetics in the Western sense became apparent in Japan. By now, it should be clear that when we refer to Japanese aesthetic we don’t particularly mean modern study but we specifically refer to a set of ancient ideals that include wabi, sabi, and yugen. “ Having lots of wabi sabi is a contradiction. r ikt I Wabi sabi is Japanese. Sometimes it is claimed that it is the heart of Japanese culture. ...” (Powel, 2004 p.26).A complete definition of these ideals and others satisfactorily encompasses much of Japanese cultural and aesthetic norms on what is labeled tasteful or beautiful. In as much as aestheticism is treated as a philosophy in Western societies, in Japan it is observed as an integral part of daily life. A variety of ideals, some traditional others modern and in many cases shaped by aspects of foreign cultures coalesce to form what we call Japanese aesthetics.

Understanding of aestheticism by non-Japanese people

We already understand that culture in Japan shares very little with cultures from other parts of the globe. This is still true even with some Asian countries that border with Japan. However, countries like Taiwan which shares the same religion with Japan have almost a similar culture with her. This is true since the culture present in Japan today has its roots in Buddhism; this is a religion that is also prevalent in Taiwan. Except for Taiwan and a few of Japan’s neighbors, other countries have few or no similarities with aspects of Japan culture. It is therefore natural for other parts of the globe to understand aestheticism differently. In fact, we have other parts of the globe where the concept of aestheticism is present but with different names. By extension, the features of aestheticism and the understanding of this phenomena is equally different. “The contentions of opposing schools and the caprices of aestheticism made no impression upon his mind of bronze, vibrantly nervous, and delicately ... “(Sadakichi, 2008, p 153).

As observed earlier the Japanese origin of aestheticism has its roots in the religion; Buddhism. “ –all are characteristics, elements to be found in those eastern theories of autistic detachments formulated in the tradition of Japanese Buddhist aesthetics” ( Odin, 2001 p 33)It is henceforth, prudent to evaluate the difference in understanding of aestheticism based on religion. The world is awash with so many religious groups and trying to analyze all of them is equivalent to counting all the sand in the oceans; a very impossible task indeed. To better understand the differences, a scrutiny of the major religions will be sufficient.

The institutions and the technology we have today, all have cultural meanings. This might mean that an active culture, whether new or ancient, when it relates with modernity, it can stimulate the development of its rational systems. Other modernity may come out; they might standout not just by increasingly trivial features such as food culture, style, or political principles but by the fundamental institutions of technology and government “ ... had been considered the centre of culture and of art, but now Yedo became her rival, and gathered unto her all the fruits of learning, of literature, .” (Sadakichi, 2008, p 89).

It is not certain, but Kawabata’s composition might have been fast and maybe something similar to the above discussion is happening in Japan. Expert advice has tried to illustrate that the Japanese economy benefits from distinctive cultural resources to attain unusually high levels of inspiration and efficiency (Toshihiro, 1995 p.54). The experts have suggested that there is a lot to gain from ideals of belonging, service, quality, and vocation. They have gone further and contrasted these ideals with the individualistic West which seems to be ethically challenged[5].

The above ideals have stood the test of time and they are not in any way threatened by the process of modernization. Kawabata in his works condemned ideals that have characteristics that are dissimilar to the above ideals but he supported ones that are the exact forms in which Japanese culture invests modernity. Definitely, the frequency of these values may account for both the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese model

Industrial societies too can use at utmost of vocational self-consciousness, attention to the whole, collaborative competition. But modern political systems function best when they rid themselves of the conformism and deference that still characterizes the fundamentally bureaucratic culture of the Japanese state. Hence the peculiar combination of efficient economics and mediocre politics that describes this model .

Chapter two

Translating Japanese

Translation is the interpretation of the connotation of a transcript and the successive production of a corresponding text, similarly called a "paraphrase," that converse the same implication in a different language. The translation can therefore be longer than or the same size as the original text. The mother text from which a translation is made is called the "basis text," or otherwise known as the source text. The speech into which the translation is done is on the other hand referred to as the "objective language." However, the ultimate creation is termed as the "target text." The sage, an international web dictionary in the same way looks at translation as an Interlingua interpretation of a given literary work. It therefore implies that a translation is an engraved publication in a second language with the same meaning as the one written in the primary language. Roman Jacobson looks at translation as an action that encompasses the understanding of the sense of a transcript in a single language the resource copy and the fabrication of a new, corresponding text in a different tongue which is otherwise called the target text, or the translation In Latin their form for translation is translatio which is taken to mean to carry across. As such stress is placed on the fact that translation is uniform movement in which distortion of the original information is highly prohibited. In broad-spectrum, the rationale of translation is to replicate a range of categories of texts which in this case including sacred works, legendary writings, technical and practical works, and theoretical texts in a language that is different from the source language and this way availing them to a larger number of readers “understand modern Japanese literature is to grasp something of the traditions out of which it comes. Many of these older and unspoken assumptions guide,” (Hume, 1995, p 6).

The disparity among the mother language or the source language and the subsequent language (target language) which includes the deviation in their backgrounds makes the translation process a real hurdle to get over. A person for that matter involved in translation ought therefore to understand the rules of the mother language as well as the target language. Since translation has to put into consideration the limitations which comprise the background in which the translation is made, the system of syntax of both the mother language and the target language, and the writing principles of the two languages. This therefore means that there is no existence of a word to word translation since this does not put all this rules and requirements into consideration. It should therefore be noted that the activity of translation and the end product otherwise known as the translation are two important factors in translation that can not be alienated (Bassnett & Trivedi 1999,p.2)

In this case therefore decoding freely from the original work is greatly discouraged. However there exists an antonym to translation which is otherwise known as back-translation. A back-translation is a rephrase of a decoded text back to the tongue of the previous manuscript. Back-phrasing normally is done without allusion from the original text. However if the translation is done by a machine then the term back-translation is replaced with the term round-trip translation. This can be literally interpreted to mean going on a trip for a subsequent time.

The theory of Equivalence

In contrast with this, statement for statement or in other terms the honest paraphrase may be the best technique depending on the most suitable component of paraphrase implicated. “ It's natural to link rational powers with intentional content. since Intentional Theory says counterpart veridical perceptions, illusions and hallucinations share such contents,” ( Sturgeon,2000 p.27). As a result several proponents have argued on the nature of the translation. Some have argued that there is the principal of equivalence whereby the translation has to have qualities that are interchangeable with original text. The assessment of content in diverse languages without doubt entails the theory of equivalence. Equivalence is the fundamental concern in paraphrasing a text even though its implication, significance, and compatibility in the discipline of translation presumption have brought about animated hullabaloo. As such according to Vinay and Darbelnet, great proponents of the translation theory, equivalence in translation is a process that 'replicates the same situation as in the original, whilst using completely different wording' To them, if this course of action is functional all through the paraphrase course, it can sustain the technical crash of the mother language text in the objective language text. They therefore suggest that equivalence is the best method that can help reduce this technical impact during translation. They however have acknowledged the fact that idiomatic expressions and are short of this theory and to this effect suggest that all the translation should be done in accordance to the context. That is to say one should consider the situation in which words are said before carrying out the translation

Jacobson (1959-2000), is one of the proponents of the term equivalence which is a requisite for translation. (Jacobson, 1992 p.7).According to him and according to the theory of translation the translator must put into account the fact that a translation has to carry qualities that are directly comparable to the qualities of the original text. He gives it a different approach from the one suggested by Vinay and Darbelnet. Jacobson put forward three types of translation. These include; Intralingua which means translation inside one language, which is also known as rewording or rephrasing, Interlingua which refers to the translation between more than one different languages and Intersemiotic which entails a translation across systems of sign language. Jacobson asserts therefore that, when you are doing Interlingua translation, you have to make use of synonyms in order to pass a cross the message from the mother text to the subsequent text. This way the Interlingua translation does not involve the equivalence theory among system units wholly. He has in his theory therefore asserted that, 'translation (puts into account) two equivalent messages in two different codes' .He has gone a head to declare that from a grammatical viewpoint languages may possibly be different from each other to a superior or minor level, but this he says does not denote that a conversion cannot be probable. “ ... Indian translator in the half-century since Independence, set an example in this regard through his own informed and conscientious practice,” (Bassnett, & Trivedi. 2000 p. 12). In so saying Jacobson meant that, that the translator translation possibly will encounter the difficulty of not discovering an equivalent. Jacobson to a greater extent therefore give the impression of the existence of some resemblance amid Vinay and Darbelnet's hypothesis of conversion events and his translation theory. As such they all insist that, at whatever time a linguistic line of attack is not at all appropriate to do a translation, the person involved in the translation can depend on other measures which include borrowing-translations, word by word translation and so on. In cooperation, the two theories make out the shortcomings of all the linguistic theories and as such dispute that a paraphrase can by no means be unattainable as there exist a number of techniques that the translator is capable of picking from. The responsibility of the person involved in the translation as the individual who settle on how to hold the transformation is stressed in both Jacobson and Vinay’s theories. They both acknowledge the fact that Interlingua translation can be carried out despite the syntactical differences that might stand out between the two languages.

However Nida and Taber (1982) in there book formal correspondence and dynamic equivalence argue that there exists two different forms of equivalence. These are; the Formal correspondence which to a larger extent concentrates on the meaning of the text, with the basis on both the outward appearance and subject matter, and the dynamic equivalence that has its basis the set rule of corresponding outcome. They in there subsequent works try to expound on these theory whereby they give a detailed description of the two forms of the equivalence theory. As such they stress on the fact that formal correspondence is made up of an entry in the target language which is a depiction of the contiguous correspondent of a statement in from the mother language. They in this case put us in light on the fact that the existence of formal correspondents in a set of words from the different languages is not mandatory. As such they are of opinion that the formal equivalents are only applicable where they rhyme since formal correspondences distort normally the syntax of the target language .(Nida & Taber,1982 p.12-33)

In summary the concept of equivalence is indisputably among the most challenging and contentious regions in the domain of translation theory. The term has caused, and it seems quite probable that it will continue to cause, heated debates within the field of translation studies. This word has been investigated, assessed and expansively conversed from diverse position and has been tackled from various diverse standpoints. The primary deliberations of the concept triggered extra expansion of the expression by present-day theorists.

Types of translation

The Japanese have it that there exist different and diverse types of translation. For this reason therefore the translator should begin to interpret the message when the speaker is over and done with the statement. The interpreter will therefore be able to understand the purpose of the interpretation hence know the type of translation to use. The chief purpose of this process is to achieve the communicative goal as wholly as possible. Catford another theorist suggested diverse ways of translation. He came up with the different types after a close examination of the works translated. He however came up with a criterion that any translator must put into consideration before settling on any type of translation. Among his factors to consider Catford came up with the following; first is that the person involved in the translation should consider the scope of his translation. As such an individual should consider the coverage of his translation. To this effect he suggested a type of translation called, broad against narrow translation. Catford also thought it necessary for the translator to consider the syntax level that the equivalence of his translation is highly regarded. “What is also clear is that different (Munday, 2001p.60) translation theorists have concentrated on different types and strategies of translation."(Shiyab, 2006 p.25)...This he says help the translator know whether the type of translation he is doing is level-restricted or it is unrestricted translation. He also suggested that for one to choose a translation type he should consider the degree of the language concerned. This will go a long way in enabling the translator judge out on whether the translation under focus is a holistic translation or a constrained translation. Among the types of translation therefore there include;

Free Translation

This chiefly entails the loose interpretation of a text from the original. That is to say, the translator has all the freedom at his disposal to make the interpretation without bearing in mind the word to word meaning of the translation. This way the content is what is most considered. The translator only carries across the message from the mother language to the target language in words that are not direct synonyms of the preceding words. However the syntactical rules of the two languages should be seriously put into consideration and most specifically the target language. This has been termed the best type of translation by most interpreters depending on the reason for the translation. Free translation has also proved best when dealing with larger texts. For the purposes of interpretation (oral translation), the interpreter may start the translation even before the speaker is done with his or her utterance. This case is mostly common with preachers and it is referred to as simultaneous interpretation (Munday,2001p.7).

Legal translation

This is a divergent area of expertise that requires skills to be able to do the translation. As such, the people involved in the translation are experts from different languages who have undergone training and mastered the rules of the languages involved. These translators are then employed and among their chief duties therefore is the interpretation of the legal system of the government such as government laws or business terms. It therefore is a prerequisite that before one is given such a job he or she must be well averse with the government law or in this case the legal systems of the languages involved. The translator as such should also have an understanding of the any other areas of discussion that might be of relevance to the translation. It is therefore important to note that legal language is unique in its own way and the translator should thus be unique (Munday, 2001 p.162-170)

Translation procedures, strategies and methods;

Nida in 1964 came up with different procedures and strategies to be used in any translation process for it to be termed successful. The procedure as identified and put forward therefore include;

Technical procedures which involves the study and a close examination of the source language together with the target language to comprehend the syntactical rules of the two languages. As such the source text is closely studied to understand the message it carries before any attempted translation can be done. This calls for a greater consideration of the conventional meaning as well as the adventurous meaning.

Organizational procedures are another step in translation which calls for a steady review of the attempted translation. In which case you compare your translation with other translations of the same text availed by different translators. You then move to the last step whereby you examine your text’s effectiveness in bringing out both the adventurous and convectional meaning as expressed by the source language(Munday,2001 p.144-156).

Translation strategies are however different and the term is used according to Krings(1986) to refer to the cognizant tactics that the translator puts in place in preparation to solving the tangible troubles that may arise in the course of a translation. He asserts that a serious translator puts in mind the purported problems that may arise during the process of translation. It is therefore argued out that there exist at least three internationally accepted strategies used by all the people involved in the translation process. These are; translating with no disturbance for as long as you can, making sure that the errors that occur are auto-corrected, and lastly, making sure that all the scrutiny for semantic or syntactic mistakes is done at the end of the translation process, i.e. during the text correction period. The idea of consciousness therefore carries so much weight as it help one understand whether the approach employed was strategic ( Shiyab, 66)

Translating techniques;

Harvey, in the year 2000 advanced at least four techniques engaged during translation. The four techniques as advance by him include; formal equivalence which stresses on a word for word translation, functional equivalence which means the translator has to look for a phrase in the target language whose function and meaning is almost similar to that of the source language, self-explanatory translation which uses broad terms to pass across the meaning as gotten from the source language, and borrowing which means reproducing the term as it appears in the mother text (Munday,2001 p.52)

Difficulties of Japanese translation;

There are several bottlenecks that most translators of Japanese have encountered. These have indeed made translation a greater challenge and the translators have been force to engage more manpower and resources that counter these problems.

Among the major challenges with the translation of Japanese official document is deprived legibility of font in older print of Japanese official documents. A Japanese copyright request has four undersized pages which fit a huge page just because the typescript is reasonably small. This therefore becomes a problem, such that the significant bit within a character is unreadable, the entire character is indecipherable and the translator has to do what we call a sophisticated estimate of what he thinks might be the content of the material. This is not likely to come about with a copyright request in French or German, except those that is extremely aged, and yet still, only a letter or two in a phrase would be scribbled, but not most of the important segment of the phrase (Kliman, 2004 p.176).

Another yet quite significant trouble with Japanese translation is the Japanese writing system. It is so much complicated hence pause a big problem. It is as understood a requirement that any translator of a language has to learn the transcription rules of that language. Japanese has however two alphabets. A student therefore will be forced to learn both katakana and hiragana.

The fact that Japanese language does not have tense is also a big problem. A translator working on a Japanese piece of literature from whatever part of the world will have it rough when it comes to tense since their tense does not rhyme with the traditional Latin languages. As such an English translator doing a piece in Japanese will be faced with an extra task of interchanging the tenses since the Japanese form for past tense is the present tense in English.

Levels of translation as discussed by Umberto eco

Eco a renowned translator has been on record among others for having been involved and having sacrificed his life to translation. He has written original texts in Italian the translated them to many different languages including Germany, English, French among others. He therefore suggests three levels of translation. These include; translating from culture to culture, translating the rhythm, and lastly rewording the text as interpretation. He asserts that for a translation to be “faithful,” the translator must at least put these three levels into mind. He gets amused by the fact that someone can simply replace the words in a text with their synonyms or their definitions. Umberto also suggests that foreignizing and domestication which involves exotic and culturally withdrawn translation should also be done to facilitate the whole process (Eco, 2001 p. 22).

Chapter three

Kawabata and his works

Brief review of Kawabata’s creative work

Kawabata’s poetic and artistic techniques stems from an artificial atmosphere, sound, texture and colour. These aspects of art are more related to painting as an art than to a cognitive literary work, he merges the art of Sumie and Haiku which are related more to painting than to poetry or a literary writing. His writing is inspired by Zen, a style that allows for formation of clear and rich mental visions of the theme that is portrayed in his works. He is more focused to the discovery of the traditions which forms a core of his writing style, with no emphasis on the European literature. He uses imagery, sound symbolism and comparison styles to create visual images in the writings, which applies creatively as a tool to draw a link between man, nature, beauty, dreams and the power of imagination. “ The same prize was awarded to the Japanese novelist, Yusunari Kawabata, whose novel. Yuguni (Snow country) was one of the translations to appear in 1956” (Croce, 1967 p7)

He also explored the theme of loneliness which was part of his life when he lost all his family members at a tender age of sixteen years, his mother passed away when he was only two years old, his grandmother followed when he was eight years old and finally his grandfather at the age of sixteen year, in fact Kawabata never recovered from the trauma of losing his close family members at this tender age, he always thought himself as an orphan throughout his life, prompting him to write about loneliness pointing on the experience of the life that he led at childhood . His later writing looked at the combined elements of the Neo-sensualist group together with his own style of juxtaposition stemming from traditional poetry forms. He also focused on the themes of romance with Geisha girls, travel writing, the theme of romance is projected in the Izu Dancers where himself, while on the a traveling dance meets a young woman thirteen years old and falls in an infatuation love with her though he eventually drops her, Shingo an old folk is also concerned with the marriage of his children in a traditional way. He gets involved with the daughter- in- law and forms a romantic relationship with her (Starrs,1998 p.16.)

Alienation is another theme that the writer looked at in depth focusing on the effect of modernization to traditionalism. In Master of Go for example, the writer focuses on two characters; the master and Odeke, the master is embodied in the traditions and is at stake to preserve the values of the society while on the other hand, Odeke represents the aspects of modernity and is using his influence to try to wash away the . He uses a language that depicts a struggle between the two individuals with each of them trying to outdo the other in reflecting his notion of life. The master eventually succeeds in his pursuit to preserve the traditional cultural values. Kawabata’s writings are inspired by the Zen elements which propel him towards the discovery of the traditions which constitute his literary work which is mainly a combination of poetry from a painter’s eye as well as nature.sno w country, a product of an opposing civilization between the West and the east was formed on the estrangement and alienation. Shimamura and Mersault can not find themselves in agreement or bonding in anyway with the people around them through either love or passion. The two are portrayed as people who live in their own separate ideal worlds that are completely dissociated from reality (Starrs, 1998 p. 22-30.)

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech poem, he illustrates a personal involvement between man, nature and beauty and the role of Zen. He illustrates the beauty of the four seasons on a more conventional manner representing Images from the four seasons; autumn, summer, winter and springs. His work also dwelled more on the a spiritual crisis that existed in the society as a result of the conflicts posed by modernity and traditions he uses bible quotations linking it to nature to elevate the quality of the Zen experience. The aesthetic part of the Mono no ware, i.e. the poignant beauty of things is presented in form of seasons, nature and man, to bring out a contrast between beauty and ugliness. Women are used to represent the beauty of the world, in the beautiful and myself, the painter’s eye and hand are used to open a space of direct meaning words, where the words first form a language, and eventually the language forms a reality. The tradition of the old men in the East is to retire into important life activities that involve religious life; he describes heaven as the ultimate best place and best replacement to today’s life. He states that the best spiritual direction to take lies in taking a training in the beauty experiences in order to be able to learn to drink from an empty cup, how to eat plain rice and get drunk only from water and not from alcoholic drinks (Starrs, 1998 p. 22-30.)


Kawabata identifies himself with the Japanese traditions of aesthetics ranging from the Tanka poetry of the medieval Zen priest, flower arrangement, the tea ceremonies, calligraphy, ceramic art, as well as touching on the spiritual values beginning from the Zen Buddhist discipline that was established in Japan as from the 11th centaury. He looks at all this with a great pride with his work inclined towards reflecting on the value that he attached to the Japanese tradition and his endeavor to preserve the traditions through his writings. Travel writing as well as romance with the Geisha girls was applied in his works to create a picture of the conflict between the town and or city a country folks. Romance is projected in the izu of dancers in which he describes his encounter with a young girl in the company of dancers travelling. While on the journey, with the dancers, he fell in love with a young girl but his love for the girl is described as love unrequited which he neither reciprocates nor refuses. In the sounds of mountain, Shingo is portrayed as an old lover who used to love when he was still a young boy, but at his old age he does love either his wife or children. However when he later recognizes his daughter-in-law who is in a state of loneliness, he falls in love with her and develops a love relationship with her, this theme enables him to create a mixture of memory, dream, and reality in which he attaches a greater value to the dreams (Starrs, 1998 p.30 - 70.)

The Literary writing styles in Kawabata’s works

The writer used various literary styles, first I will focus on the use of imagery in Kawabata’s fictions, he applies metaphors and smiles as well as the non-intellectual language emphasizing the subjective sense of experience that reflects on beauty. He uses imagery to create a link between nature, man and beauty by giving the non-living or inanimate objects a feeling and passion of human beings, women are compared to the beauty of the world, the first marriage of Kyoko to the first husband is described as like a relationship between mother and child which is an application of a smile. In the snow country, Shimamura is described as contemplating at the face of a woman in the window of a train. He does not look at her just directly but looks at the reflection of the woman through the reflection of the mirror of the train. In thousands of crane, he uses the terms tea napkins , as became a young girl was red, the two colours white and red are so much associated with the young women of Japanese beauty, but are also use in the novels to create a contrast of mood and create a feeling of quality. He also applies images of a girl bringing a red flower into bloom and thousands of cranes of pink crepe kerchief starting up a flight which represents the girls’ hand actually bringing in tea ceremony rich with beauty and value(Kawabata, Yasushi &Seidensticker 1974 p 37) .

Symbolism is another literary style he employs in his writings by use of onomatopoeia and mimetic words formed through a repetition of at least two-Mora morphemes. He has also applied formation of visual images through the choice of lexical grammar to create rhythm and tone. There is also colour symbolism where he draws on two colors ; white and red, the red colour symbolizes beauty a and aesthetics of life whereas the white colour reflects gloom and sadness of life and death, in the GO Match, Kawabata reveals two characters, the master and Odeke. The master represents the old traditions which he holds on dearly and would not want them eroded, on the other hand, Odeke represents the values of modernity, there is a clear conflict between the two factions with each character trying to convince for the values of his notions. Kawabata draws a picture of a match between the old champion and a young challenger, in which at first the two players are isolated but when they come back finally, the Go traditions are lost and the younger generation has new values of life through alienation. The characters of Komako are a reflection Shimamura and Yoko as depicted in the moon on the water; the mirror is used as a symbol to reflect the nature of Kyokos relationship with her first and second husband. The first husband dies after a long illness with whom the writer describes their marriage relationship as compared to that between a mother and a son (Petersen, 1979 p.128 -130) .

Snow which implies coldness or darkness is linked to the feelings of Komako and Shimamura when they met in a snow country, Shimamura who is dissatisfied with life meets Komako who is in an unfortunate state. The two are brought together by their situations to a sad life which is further intensified by the harsh environment that surrounds them. The snow imagery also comes in about death causing gloom and threatening Gabriel Vonvoy to his close and loved ones who were the wife Greta and the aunt. Snow is used to represent the characters inner feelings that they have about life in the states of desperation.

Ellipsis i.e. omission of some words and phrases which are needed to complete a sentence and are also necessary for creating the intended meaning of the word. In his writings, there is a high frequency of sentences without verbs like in the Snow Country which creates a state of ambiguity or leaves much to the reader to make his or her own judgment of what is to be next or what the phrase implies. This is atypical style of Haiku which employs short linked sentences that forms renga.

He also uses comparison as a writing style to create contrast between situations in the match of GO for example, the themes of modernity and traditions are brought out using a comparison of the effects of the two themes on each other. Thee writer brings out this in form of a match where the players are first isolated and when they come together again, the master who is fronting for preservation of cultural values ends up being overcome by the young challenger who was fronting for modernity. He also makes a comparison between the Japanese extended family and the business or its effect to the growth of the economy. In the Sound of the mountain, aging and death are compared in which the aging protagonists belief to see death signaling them. (Petersen, 1979 p.30) .There is also a comparison between the city versus the country life where the country life is for the conservatives where as the city life is comprised of those who have lost the values of the society and undergone total or partial alienation. (Petersen, 1979 p.125). Another compressor is made between the folk art and the mass production. His writings are also comprised of short sentences mostly depicting a typical setting of Haiku, but with a few long sentences that illustrate the renga style or features like in the multi-clausal sentences in the Snow Country which applies the narrative style of focalization. There is also an elaborate use of direct speech in his writings that are accompanied with the short sentences Aesthetics and art are one and the same thing as brought out by the writer in fact art is a response to the existence of human beings. An artist uses his or her own intuition to draw a picture of what life is, art is therefore a form of communication in which an artist can paint a picture carrying a particular message for the society. This message can be as a link between man, nature and tradition and the way the three inter depend. Past traditions act as a vital resource for the information that an artist paints a picture on. In doing this, apart from art being just a form of communication, it can also be used as a form of preserving the values of the society in terms of being used as a record of the traditional values for the future generations to make their reference on. Art helps man to understand nature and beauty. If an artist can not be able to represent the relationship between nature, beauty and the contrast of ugliness, then a consequence could arise in society, by causing a situation in which the people in society do not have a record to learn from as well as could cause dehumanization of an artist. Art is actually a vehicle that enhances the artists’ perception of beauty. Beauty is also perceived to as being dynamic, i.e. it changes with generations and times as a result of integration of the notions of modernity and traditional values (Petersen, 1979 p.128 -130) .

Peculiarities of Kawabata’s aestheticism

His literary critics cite a sharp difference between his literary concepts and the understanding of the Western literary concepts which separates the relationship between nature and man. According to the western literary concepts, the two are only related in terms of power in which there exists a mutual resistance and destruction as a result of the quest for the power on the contrast, Kawabata draws a relationship between Zen and nature as he pictures the form of Japan traditional point of view. In The Master of GO, Kawabata represents a unique extra doubt that haunts the vibrant modernity showing its limits, he create an irony that pictures modernity as a universal feature that reveals itself in the waves of the economy, politics as well as through the legal institutions he uses this to project the contrast of the Japanese culture and the Western modernity. The Western perception of modernity is brought out to be different from the way the non-western look at it. The Western culture look at the past with a contemptuous eye depicting it as a practice that has been overtaken by the social advancement, while on the other hand the non-westerns look at it as a collection of society values which should be kept dear (Powell, 2004 p.50).

In the master of GO, he embodies the Zen Buddhist priest who plays the GO of traditions of Japan in the strife for identity and the unity in religion. The aim of the game is based on a spiritual focus which is painted as an alternative home for culture. He also uses the tea ceremonies which is the Japanese old pastime that involves taking of green powdered tea called matcha, the ceremony is tactfully used to create a contrast between the traditionalism and modernism, these ceremonies are a real reflection of the Japanese traditions, it was actually a vehicle to enhance the values of their traditional values and pass them to others in the generations. He makes a combination of the traditions of Japanese aesthetics as well as modernist. There is an aesthetics of loneliness portrayed in the snow country, where the two characters Shimamura and Komako who coincidentally find themselves in the same situations brought together as a result of existing in the same environment and the same life situation share a life of gloom and strife together. (Powell ,2001 pg 159)

There is also the aspect of the aesthetics of conflict in various characters and situations in the master of GO, where he draws a conflict between the master and the young challenger Odeke, as well as the conflict between Shimamura and Komako with the people they live together with, this is because the two characters seem to be so much detached from reality and their ideas are derived from the ideal world. Another conflict is created between the city and country, folk art and mass production, populists and conservatives and several other factions. The conflict revealed in the duo situations and individuals enables him to paint a comparative story of each of the sides ideology, as well as the effects that arise from the conflict, in which at least one of the factions looses while the other gains out of the conflict (Petersen, 1979 p.270) .

Several of Kawabata’s works were translated to English since 1968, after he won the Nobel Prize. Although most of his works are peculiarly Japanese, the aesthetics contained in his writings are focused on the distance between the lyric and prosaic forming a basis of a record for a better understanding of the best things both in our own traditions and the traditions of lyric poetry that is closely related on the sonneteers of the European renaissance .

Kawabata’s works that were translated

Some of his works translate into English include his Nobel Prize speech translated by Edward Seidensticker as Japan the Beautiful and Myself, in which he does distinguish himself with the European literature and instead strongly and clearly relates himself with the Japanese aesthetic tradition and the entire range of spiritual values beginning from the Zen Buddhist imagery of cherry blossoms, maple leaf, autumn moon, and winter snow derived from the fundamental Shinto values and the classical literature of even earlier centuries.

The Dancing Girl of Izu which was formerly Izu no Odoriko written in 1926, was translated into English in 1955 in which. The boy had actually shown the love of the dancer, they had idealized her exactly as young lovers would do, and had loved the girl in the idea. The reader, identifying with him, idealizing the girl just as the writer does, loves her too virtually. Love is experienced in the girl; this is a change that is strongly embedded in unrequited love, keeping the origin as object.

The Snow Country which was originally written as Yukiguni between the years 1935-1937 was later translated in 1947. the Master of Go was written as Meijin in 1951-4 was also translated to English in 1972, Thousand Cranes whose Japanese title was Senbazuru was translated between 1949-52 to English, The Sound of the Mountain originally written as Yama no Oto, 1949-54 The Old Capital has a Japanese translation of Koto, 1962, Beauty and Sadness is also one of the works that was translated in 1964 its Japanese translation is Utsukushisa to Kanashimi .

Chapter four

The young Kawabata had grown up with a strong desire for art. He did so much painting when he was young and this to a greater extent influences his works of literature. Two of his renowned texts, The Existence and Discovery of Beauty, translated into English by V.N. Viglielmo and Japan the Beautiful and myself, are among others that have been translated into English by Edward G. Seidensticker, were translated; all the bookshops flooded with people around the world who wanted to buy the books. In chapter two of this thesis I took you on a very long journey and we held lengthy discussions on translation. We discussed the meaning and intention of translation. I also mentioned and discussed some of the problems encountered by translators in the world over. I also discussed the broad categories of translation. In this chapter I also take on translation but with a quite specific case study in mind. I have therefore discussed the works that have been translated from Yasunari Kawabata.

Kawabata’s literary works are also a result of the prevailing lone mood. He thus mixes psychological demands with the Japanese aesthetics to do his works. Kawabata has been and still is a goliath of global prose. Kawabata gets this description not because of his enormous body but because of his enormous contribution in the field of literature. He is indeed a literature guru and as you would expect, most students in the world over would wish to gain an understanding of his masterpieces that have been originally done in Japanese languages. But how could they ever achieve their dream if the art of translation did not exist. These students were indeed happy for at last their prayers had been answered and they would have a study of what they termed the world thriller in literature. Their exploration of Japanese literature featuring the works of Kawabata would without a doubt justify their jubilance. It was indeed a great package for the students since they could compare his literature in the original Japanese texts and the equivalent English translation. All that a scholar required to read the narratives and appreciate them was accurately available. To further supplement the scholars’ know-how, then translations also featured a detailed biography[6] of the renowned novelists, preambles that laid a strong foundation and set the prospect for the two stories, and redolent demonstrations. In one of his most loved speeches during the receivership of the Nobel Prize, translated into English as Japan the Beautiful and myself Kawabata struggles to at all costs separate himself from the European literature rather he says that his writing is greatly influenced by the Japanese aesthetic tradition. He most specifically thinks the tea ceremony has had a memorable impact on his work. The flower arranging ceremony, the landscaping, the art of ceramics, just to mention but a few, have really influenced his works. No wonder he is referred to as the tyranny of beauty. Kawabata to a serious extend viewed himself as Japanese and was greatly delighted by this fact. The point of reference he gives about himself therefore is wholly dependent on cultivated sensibility (Starrs, 1998 p.30 - 70.)

Kawabata’s original writings were done in Japanese language but emerged to be quiet outstanding literary analysis, earning him a Nobel laureate prize that was determined by the academy of Stockholm. Consideration of the Nobel Prize also considered the members of the Swedish academy, institutions, society as well as the university lecturers of aesthetics, literature and history. This was the greatest honor offered to the individuals who had done outstanding works in an ideal direction; the ideal direction in this case was a literary work that covered themes on cultural conservation, unity of church, state as well as family. Aesthetics and romance were also themes given consideration in the award of the Nobel prizes; these were the main themes which Kawabata dwelled on in his exploration of the literary writings. “ The same prize was awarded to the Japanese novelist, Yusunari Kawabata, whose novel. Yuguni (Snow country) was one of the translations to appear in 1956” (Croce, 1967 p7) He looks at the theme of romance in details in his Izu dancers, Japan Beautiful and Myself, and several other literary pieces that he presented. Aesthetics and beauty forms the core of his writings where he creates a link between nature, man, beauty, dreams and memories of the past among the old folks. His work also reflects much on the richness of the Japanese culture and traditions and the struggle between the old folks and the young generation to break alienation by losing the values of the society.

Kawabata’s graving for splendor cannot be divorced from all his works for in his books his deep, animated and piercing beauty is vividly brought out. Close explorations of his literature therefore reveal an extensively rich Japan with flowing beauty. The translations of his works have therefore enabled readers explore to an appreciated extent the beauty of Japan. It has also raised concern about Kawabata’s role in global literature where some people have understated him on claims that he was only a lover of beauty who had no other thing to discuss but based his discussion entirely on Japanese beauty. (Starrs, 1998. p.30.)This can be explicitly inferred from all his works as he designs characters that are inevitably lovers of beauty. They recognize the good looks of the world with much concern that even as they narrow down their perception of world beauty, it becomes more and more aesthetic a place to be. He makes such a beautiful choice of his language and his sentences are flowing with fragrance to an extent that even the reader is caught in the mix and he cannot hide his or her love for beauty after reading his works. Kawabata’s work gets the reader unawares and after reading his short essay one can never divorce from the fact that Japan is indeed beautiful a place to be. The way he describes the mountains is so welcoming that has earned the country a lot of revenue from tourists who have taken their time to visit Japan after reading his books. He constructs protagonists that are fogged-up by recollection and thoughts of flimsy shapes . “Every room carries out a certain idea. The "room of mountain and water" is devoted to streams and mountains. The wall is of gold ground and rusty russet”( Sadakichi, 2008 p.98).

The contents of these literature carried by Kawabata are important source of records that can assist other scholars who are interested in learning about the Japanese culture, fiction and the struggles that were there by the old folks in trying to preserve the cultural values and traditions for them to be able to conveniently get this information, translation was necessary so as to put the international scholars to be able get the information in first hand without seeking further translations. So as to achieve goal distribution of the writings, as well as achieve the competence for international tasks, it was important for the translation to be done. The translated work can then be distributed to other countries according to the language that is used in that particular country. To evaluate the competence of international tasks, the translation can allow comparison with other literary works of international standards and be in position to rate the work comparatively with other literary works by other writers.

In Japan the Beautiful and Myself he uses mountain-water and related connotations in landscape beautification. The word mountain water is most carefully chosen as a symbolic representation of the word landscape. We can see it in the quotation below:

“In the oriental word for landscape, literally “mountain water”, with its related implications in landscape painting and landscape gardening, there is contained the concept of the sere and the wasted, and even of the sand and the threadbare. Yet in the sad austere, autumnal qualities so valued by the tea ceremony, itself summarized in the expression “gently respectful , cleanly quiet,” there lies concealed a great richness of spirit; and the tea room , so rigidlyconfined and simple, contains boundless space and unlimited elegance.” (Kawabata, 1981 p.52)

There is behind the word hidden the idea of wither hood that had been witnessed during the sad times. But even with this dryness of the autumn he says the tea ceremony brings great riches at heart. The serene environment at the tea room is just one that welcomes the mind. It is so beautiful and well arranged with a lone flower that shines far beyond a thousand flowers. The flower is still budded and its beauty as such is beyond reach. The flower chosen here is a Camellia that is flowing with magnificence for it bright and small. The beauty leaves everyone agape and is maintained through with frequent watering of the flower vase and moistening the bud with drops of water .This translation opens ways for recognition of both international and national publishers; the publishers who are in business are also given a chance to participate in the international market thus increasing their earnings as well as international name reputation. Translation also brings out diversity and growth of culture and information which is shared on a wider spectrum. There is also a shift in the reading culture whereby the world population has tended to shift from a reading affinity to cultural and historical materials to reading for the purpose of entertainment. There is also a rise in the number of translators in the foreign literature market, leading to formation of mass professionalism in translation which creates a global network by building bridges across literary information, geographical information as well as the economic divide. Translation and publishing provides a breeding ground for the current literary heritage, it also brings about a recognition of the writers at the international level, for Kawabata for example, the translation of his novels into other languages such as English, Italy, German and others, lead to his international recognition in which readers of his work world wide were able to appreciate his work in the language that they are more competent in. translation also helps in creating a homogenous community that shares information on a level board leading to unity in the world community (Munday,2001 p.128).

The description from the translated version of Kawabata brings to life the glory of Japan. He vividly illustrates the awesome autumn season. He tells of the efforts done by the citizens to preserve this elegance as observed at the tea ceremony. As such much effort is put in the preservation of the Japanese aesthetics which encompasses not the modern beauties but the ancient ideals. Kawabata gives us through his works a beautiful taste of the aesthetic norms and the Japanese way of life.

In the text the idea of the Japanese garden as widely used is a symbol of the Japanese immense scenery. The irregular Japanese garden is a show of the diverse cultures of the country. There is no thing as such in the world that is as complicated as the Japanese culture. This can be clearly seen in the ever comprehensive and wide ranged art of landscaping by the Japanese. The plan out setting of the Japanese as thus assist them appreciate the non existent beauties. There is no doubt therefore that Kawabata’s literature is immensely influenced by nature. Arnold in his book, The Painted word, appreciates this fact. He asserts that, “In Kawabata’s fiction it is possible to perceive the force of Zen tradition operating as a strong undercurrent. The spirit of Zen appears to have both shaped the development of Kawabata’s style…’ (Powel 2004 p.65). this therefore justifies the fact that Kawabata’s aesthetics is inborn but not influenced by external factors as many would have thought.

The translation allows for comparison with other literary works not written in Japanese at the same level this helps in the books in the world market as it can be read by people from different parts of the world. The book circulation can reach far parts of the world because of the popularity created about it by the effect of translation of the book into different languages. The world market of book distribution aims at enhancing a cultural co-operation between the different communities of the world in which case, the different communities of the world can be able to learn about the cultural values of the other communities, this will ensure an enhanced flow of cultural values and information which leads to the world communities appreciating the values of the various cultures. The appreciation of the cultures by the communities, leads to peace among the world communities by reducing conflicts between the communities. The literary works are a uniform representation of the words minority as well as majority communities which brings out every group into the international mirror to be viewed and appreciated by the rest of the world (Munday, 2001 p. 38, 61,92,112).

In the novel The Existence and Discovery of Beauty translated by into English by V.N. Viglielmo there are several ways through which Kawabata has brought out the theme of aestheticism. He has employed the play of nature on items used by man in his daily life to describe beauty. For instance, his description of the effect that the sun has on glasses of water while he is in a hotel, demonstrates his love for the natural beauty:

I have been staying at the Kahala Hilton Hotel for almost two months, and I wonder how many times I have been struck, in the morning, by the beauty of the assortment of glasses gleaming in the morning sunshine on a long table in a corner of the terrace restaurant which extends onto the beach. I have never seen glasses anywhere gleam so brilliantly, not even at Nice or Cannes on the seacoast in southern Peninsula in Southern Italy, where the sunlight is also bright and where the color of the sea is also vivid.

Kawabata’s appreciation of beauty is rooted in nature and he seems to appreciate sceneries that have natural effects even those that he has not personally experienced. He enthusiastically expresses the beautiful spirit that he cultivates from observing a rainbow; this is something he regrets that he has not been able to observe. In the book The Existence and Discovery of Beauty we are treated to this observation

I could of course have found any number of striking things, things which are rare elsewhere, to symbolize the beauty of Hawaii. There is undoubtedly the beauty of various flowers of brilliant hue, and that of graceful trees of luxuriant foliage, and also such strange sights as, for example, a vertical rainbow created when it rains only in one place in the open sea, a sight which I have not yet had the good fortune to see, or a circular rainbow which encircles the moon like halo. (18)

Problems encountered during the translation of Kawabata’s essays

Some of the problems they encounter during the translation of Kawabata’s essays I already discussed in chapter two of this thesis and I will therefore just mention them in passing. Among the difficulties that a rose during the translation of these essays is the reality which lies in the Japanese sentences. They usually don’t have an object or a predicator. The sentence in addition to this just like the sentences written in German grammar will habitually end in a verb. This off hand approach to the predicator of the sentence in Japanese is occasioned by the fact that the setting of the sentence in comparison to other sentences is of much importance to understanding the meaning of speech in Japanese. Just like English whereby the pronunciation of a word is influenced by the surrounding sounds to the word, context has a major role in interpreting Japanese scripture. This therefore means that what is written as object in Japanese can at time be translated as subject in English. Hence it becomes a serious barrier to the translators since they are forced to come up with estimates of what really is since it usually is the case that what is written might not even make sense to the translator .(Shayib,2006 p.28)

Another very significant trouble that the two translators encountered in the translation of Kawabata’s work is the idea of the extremely unrelated nature of the Japanese parts of speech. Contrary to what you will often notice of English, French, and Germany, where the parts of speech have strings attached to each other, the Japanese have each word class completely distancing itself from the rest of the categories. It is often easier in English to tell where a word begins or ends contrary to what is experienced in Japanese where it is difficulty to tell what is a verb, subject or even a noun. Their writing method is also so confusing to the fact that there exists no space between words. There also is little to tell about what is singular and what is plural. In this case the plurals are the translator’s own inscriptions. As such the meaning that we get from the essays is not the actual representation of the original works. The Japanese as such do not make a clear line when it comes to knowing what tense the work has been done in. For instance the Japanese do not have future tense. Our translations have however given us phrases written in the future tense. It is also worthy noting that Japanese would use the past tense in places that an English speaker will use the present tense and vice versa. This is prove beyond doubt that these very brilliant translators had to hustle around to get the contextual meaning and put it in their on language which is indeed a great bottleneck (Munday,2001. Pg 128)

Edward Seidensticker a renowned English – Japanese translator and writer admit that translation is indeed a hard task and it is quite challenging. He has however been a success and most people have as such appreciated that he is one of the best translators that have ever existed. He however when asked how the translation task is to him say that translation is an almost unattainable task. He links translation to music whereby he says it is not just enough to look at the words but also the rhythm of the work to be translated. Just like the wine that takes up the shape of a bottle, the translated work must have a flow. It should as such be rhythmical. During one of his memorable interviews in the year 2006 for instance he says of the last phrase that appears at the end of the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, that though it contains 15 syllables, all the possible translations into Japanese result into a phrase that is at least three times this number of syllables. He asserts that it indeed call for generosity of words to make a communication in Japanese and its rhythm is therefore extremely different from the English rhythm. This he says therefore that the translation of Japanese to English or English to Japanese or any other language is quite tedious since Japanese does not have its roots into Latin like most global languages.


Apart from the technological knowhow that Japanese have been associated with lately, they have also produced great works in other fields. One would expect a Nobel Peace Prize to have been bestowed to Japanese who has excelled in the technological world. Apart from Kawabata ,there are other Japanese authors involved in literature they include: Yukio Mishima or Kenzaburo Oe. Kawabata lived between 1899 and 1972. Before he died, Kawabata had written a lot of books. These books include: The Izu Dancer, Snow Country, Beauty and Sadness, The House of the Sleeping Beauties, The Sound of the Mountain, Thousand Cranes, The Master of Go and many more. Most of his novels and short stories have been translated in several languages such as English, French, Russia and German being just but a few examples of the languages that have been used. It is useful to note that the number of translations of his works has expanded and also the varieties of languages used have multiplied since 1968, when he won that Nobel Prize award. It is from the translation that non-Japanese readers have since been given chance to evaluate Kawabata’s work. It is very true that Kawabata’s work has faced a lot of criticism from all corners of the globe. Most of the critics have had problems with the specifics that are found in his work. The problem has not been the language that was used in writing the novels. The problem lies in the context in which his work has been done. That his work was done in Japanese does not mean that he was only interested to communicate to this particular audience with the exclusion of the wider audience (Starrs, 1998 p.30 - 70.)

Kawabata has a collection of literary works to his credit most of the famous ones including; the Izu dancers, snow country, thousands cranes, the sound of the mountain, the lake the house of sleeping beauties and the lake just to name but a few. He mainly focuses on the themes of loneliness and beauty, using women as a tool to paint the picture of beauty, his work also reflects romance, sexual relation between men and women and the strife to preserve the Japanese traditions from the influence of the western culture. To effectively bring out this, Kawabata uses various stylistic features to achieve his objectives in his works. The most clear ones in the work include; imagery, symbolism, ellipsis and conflict between characters as well as comparison. His aesthetics is looked at as being peculiar in structure in the way he tries relate man, nature, beauty and dreams in relation of the Japanese tradition ceremonies such as the tea ceremonies are used to enhance the discussion of the Japanese (Kawabata, Yasushi &Seidensticker 1974p 9-12) .

The quest for the translations of Kawabata’s work signifies the depth to which his work has been appreciated. His novels have been observed by critics to be directed towards Japanese culture, a factor that Kawabata himself disputed. He sees his novels as an expansion on aesthetics. We have learned that the translators experienced challenges while working on Kawabata’s works. Among the problems that came up during the translation of these essays is the reality which is found in the Japanese sentences. Japanese sentences usually lack an object or a predicator. This therefore signifies that what is given as object in Japanese can at time be equated as subject in English. Therefore it becomes a serious impediment to the translators since they are forced to create estimates of what really is since it usually is the case that what is written might not even have sense to the translator.

It is often simple in English to estimate where a word starts or ends contrary to what is available in Japanese where it is not easy to tell what is a verb, subject or even a noun. Their writing styles are also so confusing to the fact that there is no space between words. It is hard to tell about what is singular and what is plural. Any plurals are creations of the translator. Therefore the meaning that non-Japanese readers get is not the exact replica of the original meaning in the original book. Therefore this study concludes that the translations of Kawabata’s works have some gaps left due to the difficulties that are encountered while translating.

It has been established that Kawabata’s work has its own distinctive style. The three elements: sound, texture and colour, are a composition of the artificial atmosphere that characterizes Kawabata’s poetic and artistic work, There is a very close relationship between his work and painting than with literature. His ability in merging the art of Sumie and Haiku is what brings the close relationship of his work to painting and distance it to from literature. Kawabata draws a lot of inspiration from several factors; the inescapable conclusion is that he influenced most by the Zen style. This is true because he novels allows for cultivation of unambiguous and rich mental visions of the theme that is carried in his works. His focus lies in the undying quest to present his literatures in a traditional form, a phenomena that carries his writing style. He is more interested the tradition that has a Japanese inclination and this forms the core of his writing. It is very clear that none of his work is closely related to European literature. To create the rich visual images in his writing, he uses imagery, sound symbolism and comparison styles. This helps him to draw a link between man, nature, beauty and dreams as well as the power of imagination to the side of the reader to form a clear understanding of his work (Kawabata, Yasushi &Seidensticker, p 37).

To Kawabata, family and his background in general form the inspiration that he uses for his writing. His work focuses on the theme of loneliness which was part of his life after losing all his family members at a tender age of sixteen years, his mother passed when he was only two years old, his grandmother followed when he was eight years old and finally his grandfather at the age of sixteen year. It is said that Kawabata never recovered from the death of his close family members at this tender age, it occurred to him that he was an orphan his entire life, and this explains why his work is more about loneliness. It is not that all of his work is about loneliness. His later works explores more the combined elements of the Neo-sensualist group together with his own style of juxtaposition stemming from traditional poetry forms. He also projects on the themes of romance with Geisha girls, travel writing, the theme of romance is projected in the Izu Dancers where himself, while on the a traveling dance meets a young woman thirteen years old and falls in an infatuation love with her though he eventually drops her, Shingo an old folk is also concerned with the marriage of his children in a traditional way. He gets involved with the daughter- in- law and forms a romantic relationship with her.

This task is only possible with a field study. Since time immemorial field studies have always been bedeviled with challenges. This is not going to be an exception. Among the challenges that I anticipating to face include: poor responses, uncooperativeness, false representation of facts and language barriers. Solutions to these problems are necessary so that the study is smooth and less time is spent. Time is to be set aside, so that awareness is created within the individuals that will participate in the study. This will prepare them for the study and also they will learn about the purpose of the study. All in all a thorough study is all I hope for. This study will fill the gaps that have been left behind by other scholars, in their pursuit to understand Kawabata’s work. It will further give an opportunity to children and students in learning about the Japanese culture. This will alternatively boost the art and aestheticism industry in terms of presenting public exhibitions or galleries for the purpose of learning and sharing ideas. Although the translating process is filled with a lot of un certainties and challenges, the results have turned out positive and helped re build and strengthen the history of the Japanese art and heritage culture. Being the first Japanese to earn a literature award was indeed a great achievement “ The same prize was awarded to the Japanese novelist, Yusunari Kawabata, whose novel. Yuguni (Snow country) was one of the translations to appear in 1956” (Croce, 1967 p7)

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[1] Real and permanent

[2] Art of writing

[3] Accepted

[4] Most literature are either translations or analysis of Kawabata’s work

[5] Most western civilizations are dipped in moral decay as compared to japan

[6] Life story


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