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New translation of “NO-NO BOY” for the 21st century

Ryusuke KawaiJournalist Ryusuke Kawai says he decided to re-translate John Okada’s No-No Boy because readers found the previous rendering in Japanese to be filled with archaic words and incorrect grammar that made them put down the book. Kawai spoke to an attentive audience in Seattle on March 11, as a guest of former Uwajimaya CEO Tomio Moriguchi.

Steve Sumida, Gail Nomura, Ryusuke Kawai, Frank Abe

Also at the Nagomi Tea House event were longtime Okada scholars Stephen Sumida and Gail Nomura (left). Read the review of Kawai’s translation, “A No-No Boy for the 21st Century,” in the International Examiner.newspaper article

Ryusuke Kawai with Frank Abe

Tai Tung RestaurantAfter his remarks, Kawai enjoyed our nickel tour of John Okada’s historic Chinatown, starting with Maynard Alley and the vacant spot of the old Wah Mee Club. which regrettably burned down in a 2013 fire. He posed at the Wing Luke Museum’s restoration of the kind of storefront grocery Ichiro’s parents would have operated. And we enjoyed the classic Combination No. 1 lunch at Tai Tung, “Seattle’s Oldest Chinese Restaurant,” where Okada and draft resister Jim Akutsu passed through the 82-year old inner swinging doors and sat at the same counter to eat after John finished work at his family’s Pacific Hotel at 6th and Weller, and Jim was done with his grimy ironwork at the Olympic Foundry in SoDo.

Kawai’s translation is said to be well-received in the Japanese-language press. His work enables a new generation overseas to enjoy what we here already know to be a classic of the Pacific Northwest, and arguably “The Great Nisei Novel.”

poster for Japanese translation

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