Tokyo, Japan

Roger Pulvers’ translated collection of Japan’s favourite poet’s best works reviewed in The Japan Times

The Japan Times writes in their end of year review of Roger Pulvers’ translated collection of Kenji Miyazawa’s (1896-1933) poems that the poemsstartle in their diversity, from sparse, spare snippets of metaphor to long, prose-poems in narrative form”.

Pulvers’ “small tome” starts with a comprehensive biography of Kenji Miyazawa author of “Strong in the Rain” (see below for copy of Pulvers’ translation) arguably the most memorised and quoted modern poem in Japan, and “ends with copious commentary” on Miyazawa’s poems all translated by Pulvers beautifully revealing “much about both nature and humanity”. 

Miyazawa is best known for his children’s book Night on the Milky Way Trainconsidered by many in Japan to be one of the all time children’s classics. The book has, like many other popular ones in Japan, been adapted for anime and the stage. Miyazawa wrote the book after the death of his little sister Toshi. His reputation and work only became widely known after his death, age 37.    

Strong in the Rain
 by Kenji Miyazawa

translation by Roger Pulvers

Strong in the rain
Strong in the wind
Strong against the summer heat and snow
He is healthy and robust
Free from desire
He never loses his temper
Nor the quiet smile on his lips
He eats four go of unpolished rice
Miso and a few vegetables a day
He does not consider himself
In whatever occurs
His understanding
Comes from observation and experience
And he never loses sight of things
He lives in a little thatched-roof hut
In a field in the shadows of a pine tree grove
If there is a sick child in the east
He goes there to nurse the child
If there’s a tired mother in the west
He goes to her and carries her sheaves
If someone is near death in the south
He goes and says, ‘Don’t be afraid’
If there are strife and lawsuits in the north
He demands that the people put an end to their pettiness
He weeps at the time of drought
He plods about at a loss during the cold summer
Everybody calls him Blockhead
No one sings his praises
Or takes him to heart

That is the kind of person
I want to be

More information on the book, Strong in the Rain: Selected Poems, is available on its publisher’s website Bloodaxe Books

  • RedCircle
    About Red Circle:
    Red Circle Authors Limited is a specialist publishing and communications company that conducts bespoke projects on behalf of a carefully selected and curated group of leading Japanese authors. Red Circle showcases Japan’s best creative writing. For more information on Red Circle, Japanese literature, and Red Circle authors please visit:
    • Roger Pulvers
      About Roger Pulvers:
      Roger Pulvers is an author, playwright, theatre director, and translator. He has published more than 50 books in Japanese and English, including novels, essays, plays, and poetry. Helping make Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and befriending David Bowie brought him back to Japan and inspired him to become the award-winning and prolific author, playwright, film director he is today. His recent novel, Hoshizuna Monogatari (Star Sand), which he wrote in Japanese, was published by Kodansha, Japan’s largest publisher, in 2015 and subsequently in English and French in 2016 and 2017 respectively. It was released as a film, directed by him, in 2017.