Online | Translation | Fiction | Reading Group

4-Week Translation Workshop: Intro to Japanese Literary Translation

Welcome to Intro to Japanese Literary Translation, an introductory workshop where we will explore some of the basic issues of literary translation together, focusing on Japanese to English literary translation in particular.

Maybe you have some prior J-E translation experience in other mediums or genres, and have been curious about trying out literary translation, but feel intimidated by the 'literary' aspect of it. Or maybe you're a creative writer with some Japanese language background, but haven't yet given yourself permission to put those skills together. If this sounds like you, I'm excited to help cultivate a safe and welcoming space where you can explore this interest with others in a guided, structured way.

While you'll need to be proficient enough in Japanese to tackle a passage of text with the aid of a dictionary, there are no other prerequisites for taking this workshop.

Over four weeks, we will look at a variety of common issues or "translation problems" that come up when translating a literary text from Japanese to English. We will then tackle a variety of different short passages together, both individually and as a class, discussing multiple possible 'solutions' to the problem, and discussing the merits and drawbacks of each solution.

Finally, you will choose a short translation project to work on at the beginning of the class, and work toward a polished draft to hand in at the end of the four weeks for feedback. The goal of the project is to apply the skills and techniques you have learned throughout the course to a text of your own choosing.

By the end of the course, I hope you'll be convinced that literary translation is as much a genre of creative writing as fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, and that you'll be excited to keep building your translation toolbox.

If you have experience with Japanese literary translation, please check out our intermediate-advanced workshop, also taught by Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda, here.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- Greater familiarity with the craft of literary translation

- Constructive, personalized feedback (written and verbal) from peers and instructor on a short translation

- A toolkit of ideas for how one might approach translation problems that frequently come up in Japanese to English translation

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students should expect to read about 5-10 pages of assigned reading material outside of class each week, and be ready to discuss the readings at the next session. They will also work on short in-class translation exercises each week with their peers. Finally, they will choose one short project of their choice at the beginning of the course (the type of text and length is up to the student), and work toward a polished draft that they will submit at the end of the four weeks for instructor feedback.


Day One:

-Course Introduction

-Discussion of common 'translation problems' in Japanese

-Discussion of published examples

-Short exercise translating a passage together

Day Two:

-Discuss reading

-Group work in which students will work through a translation problem together

-Compare 2 different English "solutions" to one passage of Japanese

Day Three

-Discuss reading

-Group work in which students will work through a translation problem

-Compare 2 different English "solutions" to one passage of Japanese

Day Four

-Discuss reading

-Group work in which students will work through a translation problem

-Brief discussion about 101's of publishing, and suggestions for next steps 

Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda

Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda is a writer and translator from Japanese. Born in Tokyo, raised in Texas, she holds degrees from Wesleyan University and UC Berkeley. She is a two-time graduate of the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT) Workshop, as well as a member of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) BIPOC Caucus. She is currently translating writing by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Minako Oba, Yuko Tsushima, and Yoko Tawada, and that work is forthcoming from New Directions, Strangers Press and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG) in 2024-2025.


"The translation workshop that Lisa organized was a really special space. It felt so welcoming and ready to meet people where they were in their translation journeys, regardless of where that was. I particularly loved that we got to spend a large chunk of time in breakout rooms getting to know other participants and hear their perspectives. Also, I really appreciate that she sent out so many resources and ways for people to stay connected. This was such a great experience, and it really stood in contrast to other workshops without a focus on heritage translators and translators of color."

former student

"I loved working on the translations as a group, learning from other translators' solutions, being in a welcoming environment, and learning that there are other people in the world that perceive the world in a way that is similar to me."

former student