The new National Ainu Museum in Hokkaido is Japan's northernmost national museum and its first one dedicated to the indigenous Ainu culture. Its opening in the summer of 2020 marks an important milestone in Japan's journey towards recognising and valuing its indigenous cultures. The museum and park celebrates contemporary Ainu culture and language as well as exploring the history of the Ainu and related northern cultures.
I worked with North Star Language Services, a translation company based in Hokkaido, to help them with English-language proof reading of the website and some exhibition copy for Upopoy. North Star had secured a contract to translate the Japanese text into 8 other languages, including English. Managing a translation project of this size was a complex challenge for the project manager and this was a fascinating assignment for me. I'm used to editing text written in English and to having a fair amount of influence over the style and tone of voice, but working with translated text is a completely different matter. The text is more formal in tone than I'm used to in UK museums and needed to be continually checked for consistency with other translated languages. We were also working with two languages - Japanese and Ainu - that have concepts that don't translate easily into English, so there were a lot of factors to consider.
Tourism is a major industry for Japan, as it is in the UK, and it's vitally important that translated text is not only accurate but sounds natural and is easy to understand. I'm looking forward to working with North Star on further assignments in future as the tourism industry recovers from the Coronavirus pandemic.