Having established Arigatai Books earlier this year, I’m even more motivated to spend any free time I have into new book projects, as well as other activities related to running a publisher (advertising, etc.) This gives me even less time to devote to reading for pleasure, and over time I’ve gradually started listening to more and more audio narrations in Japanese, which helps with research for new translation projects and also enriches my knowledge of Japanese and Japanese literature in general.
This naturally leads to the idea of producing audio versions of my own books, and early in the year I reached out to a certain narrator (well, technically he reached out to me) to get an estimate for the narration of one of my books. However, the number that was quoted was significantly more expensive than I expected, so I decided to put this idea on the back burner.
Then, around 2-3 months ago a friend of mine who was into acting, Masato Ouchida, told me he was looking at getting into audio narrations. On a whim, I mentioned that I was considering producing some audio books eventually, and he expressed interest. Within only a day or two he sent me a narration sample of a short excerpt of one of my books, and to be honest I was blown away by the quality of his narration. After working out some contract details he began recording, and a few weeks later the book was ready. When reviewing his recordings I gave a few points of feedback, but overall I was very pleased with how he performed and mostly left the creative decisions up to him.
I’m glad to announce that the audiobook of Volume 1 of my bestselling series, Japanese Classic Fairy Tales by Mimei Ogawa, is now available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes, where you can listen to sample recordings of Masato’s peaceful, but expressive voice.
If you are not sure which store to use, I would recommend going with Audible. Even if you aren’t a member you can become one with a 30-day free trial, which includes one book. I’ve been using Audible personally for some time now, and they have a pretty good selection (including some content in Japanese that I couldn’t find anywhere else).
Just to clarify, while the original books in the Mimei Ogawa series contain both Japanese and English versions, this audiobook is English only. But many of Ogawa’s audiobooks are available in Japanese on YouTube.
Although perhaps true of all literature to a certain extent, I feel that fairy tales in particular are very well-suited for the audio format because these types of stories have been passed down verbally through the generations as legends. In fact, in Japanese one word that means “legend” is iitsutae (言い伝え), which is written with the words for “to say” and “to communicate” / “to pass down”.
I’m already thinking about producing an audiobook of Volume 2, but in the meantime you can check out the other books of this five-book series here (all published in English-only as well as parallel English/Japanese formats). By the way, you can contact or find more information about the narrator via his profile on ACX (Masato Ouchida).