Kurodahan Press Translation Prize

The Kurodahan Press Translation Prize is held annually, with the contest piece usually announced in June and a cutoff date for submissions of the end of September. The winner is usually announced by the end of the year.

The winning translation is usually published in a Kurodahan Press anthology, such as our Speculative Japan series.

The winner for the 2013 Kurodahan Press Translation Prize is Milo Barisof of the United States. Our sincere congratulations for an outstanding translation of a remarkably difficult story! We hope to publish his translation in Speculative Japan 4, tentatively scheduled for late 2014.
We are contacting the other people who submitted translations now, and putting together a collection of anonymized translations for everyone to look at, as we do every year.


The 2013 Kurodahan Press Translation Prize is now closed for submissions.
The prize is awarded for translation excellence of a selected Japanese short story into English.


1. Eligibility
There are no restrictions whatsoever on translator participation. All translators are encouraged to apply, regardless of whether or not you have worked with us before.

2. Submission
Send your translation to the below address, by regular postal mail or (preferably) E-mail.
Please be sure to read the submission instructions, which cover formatting requirements (for both printouts and electronic files) and provide information on Kurodahan Press standards and other points. Submission instructions are given in the style sheet included in the contest package.
Submitted translations will not be returned, but the translator will retain all applicable rights to the translation. Kurodahan Press will receive first publication rights to the winning translation, to be arranged under a separate and specific agreement.
No information about any submissions, including the names or contact information for people submitting translations, will be made available to any third party, including the jurors, with the exception of the name of the winner (or a pseudonym, if the winner prefers). Translators are of course free to tell anyone they wish that they have made a submission.

3. Source material
The submission package, including the source document if possible, style sheet and instructions, will be made available as a downloadable PDF.

4. Application Deadline
Translations must be received no later than the end of September each year. A notice confirming receipt will be issued. The results should be announced by the end of the year.
However, the prize may be cancelled, or the deadline extended, if we haven't received at least twenty submissions by the initial deadline.

5. Prize information
Grand Prize, to one winner
A cash prize of 30,000 yen, and contract for publication in an upcoming publication, for an additional payment to the winner (first English publication rights; translator retains all other applicable rights to the translation).
Note: Prize payments will be subject to source-tax deductions as required by Japanese law.

6. Submission address and contact
Submissions should be sent (electronically, if possible) to:
Click here to upload file
or to:
Kurodahan Press
3-9-10-403 Tenjin
Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
810-0001 JAPAN

7. Notification
All contest entrants will be informed of the contest results. The winner's name will be posted on the Kurodahan Press website.

8. Judging
All decisions will be final and except in extremely unusual circumstances the reasons for the decision and the specific votes of the jurors will not be revealed. The goal of the contest, simply stated, is to produce an English translation faithful to the original, which can be read and enjoyed by someone with no specialized knowledge of Japan or Japanese.
The winner of the Prize is selected by a panel of at least three jurors. The jurors will be:
  - Seth Jacobowitz
  - Nancy Ross
  - Juliet Carpenter


The guidelines provided to the jurors for scoring are given here, but note that these are guidelines only. Often jurors use different approaches.

Scoring scheme for Kurodahan Press Translation Prize submissions

The goals of the contest are given in the announcement as "to produce an English translation faithful to the original, which can be read and enjoyed by someone with no specialized knowledge of Japan or Japanese."

Scoring is broken down into three sections, all of which are left up to your individual subjective judgments. You do not have to give any reason for your decisions; that's why you're jurors.

1. Translation accuracy

This part is fairly straightforward, and can be handled fairly simply by merely rating the translation as

Unsatisfactory: 0 points
Significant translation errors or Japanese-specific issues that are not explained sufficiently for the English-only reader.

Acceptable: 5 points
No major problems, but a lot of nuances and peripheral meanings that would add depth to the work in English have been lost in translation.

Good: 10 points
Pretty obvious.

2. Representation of the original

Probably the most subjective part of all, this is your judgment of how well the translator captured the style, atmosphere, thrust, etc of the author. Naturally no translation will provide the same reading experience as the original, but how close did the translator come? Do you feel that the translator has inserted too many of his own interpretations? Or failed to reasonably convey the intent of the author?
Just go ahead and assign a point total from 0 (terrible) to 10 (superb). Again, 5 would be "acceptable," representing the average translator.

3. English flow

Regardless of how the translator has actually translated the work, how was the English itself? Vocabulary, structure, readability, flavor, etc. Does it still have that "醤油臭さ" with the source Japanese visible between the lines? Does it feel like it was written in English? Perhaps all traces of Japan have been obliterated and it could work equally well in Poughkeepsie?
Just go ahead and assign a point total from 0 (terrible) to 10 (superb). Again, 5 would be "acceptable," representing the average translator.

If everything works properly, this should give each work a total point count of from zero to 90 (three jurors), which should be enough to eliminate ties.

Note on Romanization:
There are many ways to Romanize Japanese, and I don't think we should penalize translators for using uncommon ones. Translating 太郎 as Tarō, Tarou, Taroh or Taro is acceptable (although I personally prefer the first one). If the translator chooses to write Tom instead, that's just flat wrong.



Thank you to everyone who submitted translations, and even if you didn't win we hope you will continue to translate Japanese literature, enriching the global literary experience for all.
Many of the people submitting entries have agreed to make their anonymized translations available here with the goal of helping everyone become more proficient at translation. Each translator has taken a different approach to the same source text, and come up with different answers. The entire package, including all the submitted translations we are authorized for, is made available for download as a ZIP file each year.


The winner of the 2013 Prize is Milo Barisof of the United States. We plan on publishing his translation in Speculative Japan 4, tentatively scheduled for publication in late 2014.
The contest package, including the source material 「断章」 by 皆川博子 and all the submissions we have been authorized to distribute, is available for download as a PDF file <here>.
The source book is not currently in print, but is available second-hand, including at Amazon Japan: http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4331606759/


The winner of the 2011 Prize is Angus Turvill of Newcastle on Tyne, England. His translation was published in Speculative Japan Volume 3.
The contest package is available for download as a ZIP file <here>, but as a courtesy to the author and publisher we request that interested parties please purchase the book (異形37 伯爵の血族 紅ノ章), which is available at bookstores in Japan including Amazon Japan.


The winner of the 2010 Prize is Michael S. Ignatov, a resident of Arizona, USA. His translation was published in Speculative Japan Volume 3.
The contest package (excluding the source material, which was 忠告 by 恩田陸, but including all the submissions we have been authorized to distribute) is available for download as a ZIP file <here>.
Note that because the story is in print, you are requested to purchase the book (虚構機関—年刊日本SF傑作選), which is available at most bookstores in Japan including Amazon Japan.


The winner of the 2009 Prize is Dink Tanaka, currently residing in New York City. His translation was published in Speculative Japan Volume 2.
The contest package (excluding the source material, but including all the submissions we have been authorized to distribute) is available for download as a ZIP file <here>.
Note that because the story is in print, you are requested to purchase the book (ファンタジア), which is available at most bookstores including Amazon Japan.


The winner of the 2008 Prize is Nancy Ross, currently residing in Hiroshima prefecture. Her translation was published in Volume 1 of the Kaiki anthology.
The contest package (including the source material and all the submissions we have been authorized to distribute) is available for download as a ZIP file <here>.

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Kurodahan Press
c/o Intercom, Ltd.
3-9-10-403 Tenjin
Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
810-0001 JAPAN

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