Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This Thing Called Love

Japan’s Best “Short Letters of Love” is next in my tribute to a series of short letters, letters which might be described as communicating a brief message from the heart. Earlier posts here have introduced other letters about hometown, friendship and Dad. For my money, the topic of today’s five brief statements, or ‘letters’ is the most difficult of all feelings to nail down — love. In a book that attempts to impart some of the meaning of that very difficult concept, the preface puts it well: ‘In such bewilderment, we encounter words clothed in different forms that change what is being said, usually to make the short letter more effective—although the thoughts to be communicated may not necessarily become stronger.’ The writer of this preface goes on to say that there was some worry in the beginning that letters so full of personal nuance in Japanese would change and become different in the translation. I, for one, think their worries were for naught.

Waiting again tonight for a call.

With my hand on the receiver.

Just waiting.

Miyuki Doi (F. 36)

It isn’t France that is so far away.

It’s that my heart cannot reach

your heart that is so far away.

Akiko Matsunaga (F. 27)

“I love you” is serious talk.

I think I’ll put it aside till I’m older.

Takashi Ouchi (M. 14)

Who understands me

better than anyone, better than anything

but you, my stray dog.

Manami Matsumura (F. 34)

Much harder than not being able to

see you,

Is that your smile no longer comes

floating to mind.

Risa Yamamoto (F. 18)

The very sensitive English translations are once more the work of Patricia J. Wetzel, assisted by Shunichi Mitani in matters of cultural context.

For anyone interested in earlier letters in this series, you will find examples below:

Hometown — “Home in the Heart”

Friends — “There For You”

Dad — “This One’s for Dad”

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America