Honyaku Konnyaku

© Shogakukan

Doraemon holding his honyaku konnyaku (translation jelly), that lets him understand any language.
© Shogakukan

I’ve been translating requests from friends or work, and song lyrics for years, but this week I was offered a part time position where I’ll actually be making a little money to translate articles for the fashion and idol news site Tokyo Girls’ Update.  It’s my first time working for a real Japanese company (and all the paperwork that goes along with it), so I’m sure it’ll turn out to be an adventure!


Currently, at the end of March next year I plan to quit my main job and then fill up my schedule with various part time gigs instead of looking for another full time position.  So in order to prepare for this, I’ve spent the last couple of months updating my resume and staying on the look out for part time job openings I can do now or apply for with an April 2015 start date.

Then it just so happened that the Facebook alumni circle for the university I studied abroad at in Tokyo was updated with contact info for a few translation position openings, which I decided to apply for on a whim since I met the criteria.  It was mostly a case of being at the right place at the right time, but I’d say that a good number of positions in Japan are like that or introduced through networking connections.

As with most starting freelance positions the pay isn’t very high, but as my work is being published online and credited, it should hopefully open more doors down the line.  I also can’t tell you how glad I am to be translating something that interests me rather than IT or pharmaceutical jargon that the majority of translation work seems to fall under!

Most full time company translation gigs have a certain translation software or format they use, but because this is a freelance gig I don’t have access to any fancy company software, so I’ll be sticking to Tangorin.  Weblio is also a good online dictionary and thesaurus for translating Japanese slang and idioms where Tangorin falls short.  On my iPhone I use the Cooori JED app, which sure beats having to take my old, outdated electronic dictionary with me everywhere.

Luckily most of the fashion/idol world Japanese is pretty straight up and I haven’t needed much help so far.  🙂  Another cool thing about the job is not only do I get to translate pop culture news, but sometimes get to combine and rewrite articles as well.

I’ll be sure to update as I navigate new and unfamiliar territory as I try to make more headway into the translation field/working for a proper Japanese company work!  Wish me luck!

– J

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