This British person claims to be living in Japan. This does not concern me as I have no interest in his personal life. However, as a forensic translator specialising in the written Chinese language (not Japanese language), I was asked my opinion about the claims of this YouTuber to be ‘reading’ and ‘translating’ traditional (old) and contemporary (new) Japanese ideograms into modern English. On occasion, my professional work does take me into the combined world of Japanese and Chinese texts – as the two often possess a historical link. Many Japanese philosophical and martial concepts, for example, have their origin within ancient Chinese culture. As you can ‘hear’ from his rather implausible introduction – this YouTuber claims that this Japanese urban legend is written in hard to read Japanese ideograms that even ethnic Japanese readers find it difficult to discern! Both of these statements are misleading and untrue. I also suspect that this Westerner DOES NOT read Japanese script, and I shall explain ‘why’.
A quick search of Japanese language sources soon found the story at hand, as you can see, it is not old enough to be written in ‘old’ Japanese ideograms (dating back to either 1897 or 1906 – depending on who is believed). This is a typical page on the Japanese-language internet conveying the ‘details’ of this otherwise interesting Japanese horror-story:
As with many similar Japanese texts, the descriptive narrative is comprised of an admixture of Chinese and Japanese ideograms – a familiar script that virtually ALL ethnic Japanese people are trained to read from their earliest school days. Although it is true that the Chinese characters are ‘older’ than the more simplistic Japanese characters – these do not constitute an older ‘unreadable’ Chinese script in their own right. These Chinese characters are common in Japan and are familiar to all ethnic Japanese people. The idea that these Chinese characters are ‘unreadable’ is false and would not be held by someone who is supposedly ‘schooled’ in reading the Japanese language!
Did this YouTuber take a ‘long time’ translating the core of this story into English? Unlikely. Why would he – Google Translate can do it quickly and for free:
To access these stories (and similar) type in this phrase into Google: 日本のホラーストーリー (Japanese horror stories) and a full list will appear in the Japanese-language. Click on the ‘Translate into English’ option to the right of the title and Bob’s your father’s brother! This is what I suspect this YouTuber has done for all his supposedly ‘unique’ videos. Why have I made this post? I politely asked this YouTuber to comment on my findings and he chose to ‘delete’ my comment. As this behaviour suggests the deception on his part – I thought I would dedicate a few minutes using my language skills to ’empower’ the masses and ‘liberate’ the genre of Japanese horror stories from the controlling few! Honesty is always the best policy for learning and assisting others.