Japanese fairy tale audio narration: “The Soul Lives On” (by Mimei Ogawa)

By | December 7, 2020

When practicing my fiction writing skills some years ago, I learned the technique of reading what you write out loud in order to catch mistakes that would otherwise be missed. In recent years I’ve discovered this also helps improve the naturalness of my translations, and I try to read aloud at least portions of my translations whenever possible.

On this blog I recently released a translation of a classic Japanese fairy tale, “The Soul Lives On” by Mimei Ogawa (小川未明). For this work, I decided to record a full voice narration as I was doing the editing, not only to help with the quality of the translation, but also to allow more people to enjoy a work I feel is worth reading. Although most, if not all forms of literature can benefit from audio narration, I think stories like this that are classified as “fairy tales” are especially suitable.

I admit to being pretty new to voice narration, at least if you don’t count reading bedtime stories to my child (: I did do a short experimental narration last year of the intro of a story I translated here. But for “The Soul Lives On” I decided to really put in some extra time and effort; I ended up recording parts of the story several times, listening to the result, and then re-recording. In the end, I still had to edit out a few areas to clean things up. To improve the atmosphere, I used a piano song I had recorded previously as the background, and looped/edited it to fit just right.

Overall, given my level of experience I am pretty happy with the result, and hope you are able to enjoy it as well. But feedback is always appreciated. This project gave me a newfound respect for professional audio narrators and voice actors since there is so much more than simply reading the story out loud.

If you are looking for more audio narrations, you can find this audio narration of a classic Japanese SF story I translated, done by a professional narrator.

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