Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ono Takashi Radio Show (English Translation)

I finally finished transcribing and translating into English the Ono Takashi radio show recording. I was hoping to make the audio available too for Japanese readers and any English-speaking readers who just want to hear what the show was like, but I'm having trouble finding a free host for such a large audio file. I'll keep working on it, but for now here's the English version. I edited the audio file, transcribed it to Japanese and translated it into easy-to-read English, so it's a simplified verson from the actual show, and not a perfect one-to-one match with the Japanese, but hopefully it's understandable and interesting. Here it is:

Takashi Ono: This week we bring you another charming guest. This is “Coca-Cola Presents: Ono Takashi Fun Fan Time,” I am your host, Takashi Ono. Please send us a message. This week's guest is here on the show for the fourth time; last time was in June of 2008. Here he is. Please introduce yourself.

Stephen: Hello. It's Stephen.

O: Haha. You’re very natural by now. How are things lately? How’s your health?

S: Haven’t caught any colds. I’m doing well.

O: When you came last year in June if seemed to me like you were still a young boy, but now you come sporting a beard and all. You know, I don’t often think of people with beards as being very sexy, but I saw you and thought, wow that’s sexy. So what do other people around you think?

S: Well, not really, they say “what an artist” and stuff like that. It’s my first time being called “sexy.”

O: Oh, your first time?! Really…

S: I’m flattered.

O: No, really, it looks good. Well then, we welcome today for the fourth time Stephen Jensen. He’s working now as a translator. Last time you came we introduced you to our audience as a Coordinator for International Relations, but your contract as a CIR ended. When did it end?

S: August, last year.

O: I see. In April, Stephen will start studying bamboo crafts. So what brought you to this…what was it…the Bamboo Craft and Training Support Center?

S: Well, the first connection came last year when, from October to November, students from Malaysia came to the Center and I worked to help with interpreting. So, during that job I watched them splitting and stripping bamboo and weaving it. I knew about bamboo crafts before, that there was such a thing [here in Oita]. But seeing it with my own eyes, I thought, wow, I’d really like to try this myself.

O: I see. So it set fire to your artistic instincts.

S: Haha, yeah.

O: So, last year in October two students from Malaysia came to this Bamboo Craft Training and Support Center, and you took care of them by interpreting for them. Then you thought you wanted to try it out for yourself. We heard from you a moment ago that you passed the screening process for the Training Support Center. Is there a test for this school?

S: Yes, there is. I first submitted my application in January. Then there was a screening examination in February. So I took that and one week later the results were out.

O: Oh, so the results are out already.

S: Well, to each of the examinees, yes.

O: On this screening examination, what kinds are things are tested?

S: There were different parts. It took maybe not a full day—about half a day. There was an academic test and then a technical test.

O: What was the academic test like?

S: With the academic test first came math problems, then…

O: Math?

S: Yes, math.

O: Is math even required? I wonder.

S: Well, yeah, if you take a look, um…

O: Today, Stephen brought a book on bamboo crafts for us to look at.

S: It’s pretty geometric, you know?

O: Yeah, I guess so. It is spatial after all. What’s the right word…calculation, or shapes. It’s all about shapes isn’t it?—looking at shapes.

S: Yeah, and some artists I hear use computers to design their work.

O: And you got a perfect score? With the math?

S: It wasn’t that bad.

O: Oh, okay. Next came the technical test, or you said there was a vocational aptitude test.

S: Right, the vocational aptitude test. That tested how many problems you can solve in about a minute.

O: How did that go? Did you do well?

S: I think so.

O: (laughs)

S: It’s actually harder than it seems.

O: It’s true, when you first take a look at bamboo crafts you think about how amazing they are, but when you look closer at all the details, it’s quite delicate, all those knots. It seems like very meticulous work to me. So you passed the test and will start this April at the Support Center as a student….

S: Uh, trainee, yes.

O: As a trainee you will start a new activity. Bamboo crafts….You say translating for the students from Malaysia was what got you interested in it. What about from the artist’s perspective, what do you think when you see bamboo crafts?

S: It’s fascinating. Let’s see…the part I find most fascinating is, for one, the material.

O: Material.

S: You harvest a plant and then process it and turn it into strips, then you weave it and dye it—it’s a kind of process that’s very interesting to me. At the start you think, I want to make a bamboo art piece that looks like this, so you have to go back to one bamboo tree, one round stick of bamboo, and turn that into certain types of strips, with certain thicknesses and lengths; it’s a process you control all by yourself. I find that interesting.

O: Huh, that makes sense. For us, the way we think, we see it only in terms of gathering your materials and assembling them. But you, Stephen, see the process of making it as starting from the bamboo plant itself, is that right?

S: Yeah, if you don’t start from there…after all, there are all kinds of things that come into play with bamboo: pliability….

O: That’s true. With this type of bamboo you can make this kind of material, but with this bamboo over here you can’t.

S: Right. There are many varieties, and they all have different patterns. Like gomachiku and torachiku bamboo…there’s a lot. Some have spots, and so on.

O: Wow. You’re a trainee, but you’re already talking like a bamboo master! What about Colorado? You’re from Colorado. Do they sell anything like bamboo crafts there?

S: I’ve never seen it.

O: Never seen it! Which means, if you take the skills you learn back with you to Colorado….

S: I’d love to show people more of Japanese culture, certainly.

O: In Colorado.

S: Well, I don’t know about Colorado per se. After going back to America I’d like to help introduce it to American people, if possible.

O: Which means….cha ching! (Makes gestures of packing lots of money into his shirt pockets.)

(Everyone laughs)

S: Perhaps.

O: No no no, you can’t do that. Artists aren’t for money, after all. But seriously, we’re really happy that you can help spread this kind of Japanese culture in America. I mean, it’s quite possible that maybe one day we’ll see “bamboo craftsman, Stephen” in magazines or somewhere in Japan, right? “…Learned bamboo crafts in Beppu.” Hmmm…You said previously that Caitlyn likes to arrange flowers. Once you learn bamboo crafts what would you like to make for her?

S: Definitely a hanakago.

O: What’s a hanakago?

S: Well, it’s a vase—like a vase. There are different kinds. Some are tall and skinny, some shallow….

O: Oh, so what we call a vase is called a hanakago in bamboo crafts, right? Something you put flowers in?

S: That’s what I’ve learned, yeah.

O: Really. Wow. A lot to look forward to. Alongside bamboo crafts, you said you will continue your activities as an artist. One activity here is “Mixed Bathing World,” hosted by BEPPU PROJECT. What is that?

S: Well, it’s a contemporary art festival that’ll be held from April to June. The festival invites artists from abroad to Beppu and has each of them choose a location and make artwork. The artwork is kind of scattered throughout the city, and viewers tour the city looking at artwork. That’s the kind of festival it is. There are also music and dance categories, or events I mean. So it’s going to be a pretty large-scale event.

O: And “Mixed Bathing World,” this will be the title?

S: Yes, that’s the title.

O: I see, so the title of the contemporary art festival is Mixed Bathing World. In other words, internationally renowned artists are brought here and asked to make artwork that can only be made in Beppu, or at a certain location in Beppu, and that artwork is exhibited.

S: Yes, it’s also called “site specific.” “Installation.”

O: And, Stephen, you’ll also be displaying work?

S: No way, I can’t. It’s…they’re all very well-known artists.

O: But Stephen, for us here, we consider you to be a very famous artist. So in what capacity, what role will you…?

S: Well, I’d like to get involved as much as possible in translation and interpreting. And do as much as I can as a volunteer. Last week we hung up posters around Oita city. In between the time I’m painting…oh, but bamboo crafts school will start in April, so pretty soon I’ll be busy.

O: You’ll be very busy. Won’t you lose most of your time to paint?

S: I will.

O: So on weekdays you’ll be a trainee and make bamboo crafts. What about weekends? Paint your pictures?

S: On weekends I’ll paint picture, if possible, and then there is also daily living expenses, like before when I mentioned my school loans. I have to pay back about 400 dollars every month, so I have to earn that money too.

O: Yeah, you were saying before how it’s a “heavy burden” for you. Ah, I see. And, you know, with painting sometimes it takes a serious amount of time to finish just one work. Today you brought for us a photo of one of your paintings. It’s really…how should I say…there’s a part of it that shows your calm, pleasant personality at the same time that we feel something powerful working beneath the surface. The moment I saw it I thought you were depicting outer space, but in fact it’s a pair of morning glories.

S: They are shaped kinda like stars, aren’t they?

O: Yeah, exactly! They spread out like stars.

S: Now that you mention it….

O: And the colors are very nice. We’re also hoping to put this photo on the show’s blog.

S: This painting I actually submitted to the city exhibition. The Oita City Exhibition is going on right now. People are welcome to….

O: Oh, that’s great. If you have a chance, Stephen Jensen’s painting is on display so we hope you go see it. Well, time to wrap this show up has come in the blink of an eye. Please take a look at our blog on the OBS homepage. We’re also attaching a link to the blog of our guest today, Stephen Jensen, so take a look at his blog too. What kinds of things are you writing on your blog?

S: Well, bamboo craft training will start in April. I’ll write about what I’m experiencing on a day-to-day basis as I work with bamboo.

O: Oh, so we can read some of your artistic thoughts as well. You’re writing this in English?

S: I’m writing in both.

O: Oh, both!

S: I want to anyway.

O: I was just thinking it’ll be good English study practice. Please take a look.

S: Please write a comment too. If you have any questions or opinions—I want my readers to say them.

O: (laughs) Yes, please “say” them. Listeners, if you can, go check out Stephen’s blog. Well then, this week we heard from Stephen Jensen. For the show’s end, let’s part with these words. Ready? One, two: See you again! Thank yooouuu.

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