While I have translated many chapters from a variety of works, its pretty rare that I translate a series to the end. This can be due to its length, a lack of reader interest, or I may have just intended to do a single chapter as an experiment.
The fantasy story “The Rainlands” (雨の国) by Haruka Asahi (朝陽遥) is one of the few series I have translated in its entirety, so I would like to write an afterward in the hopes that some readers will find it interesting. Please note that there will be some spoilers here, so if you haven’t read the story yet please consider checking it out here.
I originally picked up this story because, frankily, I thought the idea of a country that rained all the time was a unique, albeit simplistic, setting. I also liked the element of a traveling narrator and found the Japanese expressive without being overly hard to parse, nor was there a need to look up too many unfamiliar words. The author responding positively about her work being translated was another plus, as was the stories reasonable length: long, but not too long–although I admit once or twice I stumbled partway through, wondering if I should keep translating or move onto something else.
On the surface, it is a simple tale of a man who decides to venture to a land of incessant rain because he wonders how anyone could survive in such a place. Once he arrives there, he discovers they have a strict fasting custom, presumably required for boys of a certain age. Disgusted by this, he interferes by offering food to one of the boys who is fasting, and the boy who has received the aid is, in effect, kicked out of the cave village after the period of fasting ends and his health returns.
The story is quite slow paced, and there is little in terms of real action, with the narrative punctuated by key scenes like when there is a rare clear day outside and the entire village runs out to celebrate, or when there is a terrible storm.
But what I feel really makes this story great is its depiction of a foreign culture and the main character’s responses to encountering it. It gave me much to think about. In the end, did the main character really do the ‘right’ thing? Did Yakt actually benefit from the MC’s actions, or was he hurt by them? It also made me wonder if in ancient Japan similar rituals were ever carried out.
I felt the slow pacing and sense of calm which permeates the story was another strong point. The be honest, the author’s style did start to repeat after reading a few pages, but in the end I felt this style was a actually a contributor to the sense of calmness. The author’s thoughts were interspersed with descriptions about the surroundings and provided a good counterpoint.
When I posted the final chapter I emailed the author to notify her, and asked if she had a message for the readers (a good number, at least judging from the page hit stats). She responded she would be glad to. Here is her message, in full, followed by my translation of it. (Note: for those of you comparing between the two, I aimed for natural English so the translation is somewhat non-literal)