The 2019 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize in Japanese Literature, Thought, and Society

See below for information about the prize.


The Great East Japan Earthquake One Year On: Reports From The Field  東日本大震災より一年−−現場よりの報告

February 27, 2012
Volume 10 | Issue 10 | Number 1

The Great East Japan Earthquake One Year On: Reports From The Field


Christopher S. Thompson

 On March 11th, 2011 at 2:26 p.m. Japan Time, a magnitude 9.0 earth­quake struck a section of ocean floor off the coast of Northeast Honshu.  The quake unleashed a giant tsunami that rose to over 10 meters in height. Washing over the Sanriku coastline inland from locations in Aomori prefecture southward, it dev­astated the villages, towns, and cities in its path in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures, killing initially over 20,000 residents.  Thousands more were later reported dead.  Coupled with the tsunami-caused near meltdown of reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, this multifaceted disaster, unparalleled in Japanese history, has changed life in the region forever.  The following “Reports From The Field” are an attempt by four American anthropologists intimately familiar with Northeast Japan through decades of fieldwork, to reflect on exactly what happened on 3.11, to assess the nature of the destruction and havoc, and to consider the future of the region, and Japan.

The articles compiled here originated as part of a roundtable session at the 110th Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) held in Montreal in mid November 2011.  For this special double roundtable ses­sion, spon­sored by AAA’s East Asia Section, cultural anthropologists Christopher Thompson (Ohio University) and Dawn Grimes-MacLellan (Earlham College) invited their colleagues with a variety of experience in Northeast Japan to assess local developments on the ground there since 3.11.  The articles that follow were developed out of four of these AAA roundtable presentations.

By design, each article differs in style and content, ranging from Kelly’s eloquent re­flective essay, which serves to frame the ethnographically focused reports that follow by Delany, Grimes-MacLellan and Thompson, which are based on their post 3.11 experiences in several of the tsunami ravaged communities on the Sanriku coast.  In a distinct way, each author provides an up-close view of the tsunami disas­ter from both a personal and a professional point of view.  All papers reflect Kelly’s challenge to resist predicting a bleak future for post 3.11 Tohoku, and instead to imagine what now might be possible moving forward given what we know about the region’s past, the nature of the disaster, and preliminary societal responses.  These articles are presented here for the purpose of providing a benchmark for what has happened since 3.11 in Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures and to help envision a positive but realistic future for the Tohoku region.

Christopher S. Thompson is Associate Professor of Japanese Language and Culture and Chair of the Department of Linguistics at Ohio University.  He is co-editor of Wearing Cultural Styles In Japan: Concepts of Tradition and Modernity in Practice and numerous articles on Tōhoku culture and traditions. 

Recommended citation:  Christopher S. Thompson, 'The Great East Japan Earthquake One Year on: Reports From The Field,' The Asia Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 10, No 1, March 5, 2012.

This is part of the series One-Year After The Great East Japan Earthquake: Reports From The Field edited by Christopher S. Thompson and Dawn Grimes-MacLellan.

The complete series is comprised of the following articles:

1. Christopher S. Thompson, The Great East Japan Earthquake One Year on: Reports From The Field

2. William W. Kelly, Tohoku’s Futures: Predicting Outcomes or Imagining Possibilities

3. Alyne Elizabeth Delaney, A Report From One Miyagi Fishing Community

4. Dawn Grimes-MacLellan, Students in the Field at the Site of the Great East Japan Earthquake

5. Christopher S. Thompson, Local Perspectives On the Tsunami Disaster: Untold Stories From the Sanriku Coast

See the complete list of APJ resources on the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power meltdown, and the state and societal responses to it here.

The 2019 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize in Japanese Literature, Thought, and Society

The Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University is pleased to announce the 2019 prize honoring the life and work of our colleague, Kyoko Selden. The prize will pay homage to the finest achievements in Japanese literature, thought, and society through the medium of translation. Kyoko Selden's translations and writings ranged widely across such realms as Japanese women writers, Japanese art and aesthetics, the atomic bomb experience, Ainu and Okinawan life and culture, historical and contemporary literature, poetry and prose, and early education (the Suzuki method). Recognizing the breadth of Japanese writings, classical and contemporary, and with the aim of making such materials more widely available, we ask that prize submissions be of unpublished translations. Collaborative translations are welcomed. In order to encourage classroom use and wide dissemination of the winning entries, prize-winning translations will be made freely available on the web. The winning translations will be published online at The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

Prize selections will take into account both the quality of the translation and the significance of the original work. In cases where a text already published in English is deemed worthy of retranslation, new translations of significant texts are accepted (please provide date and place of earlier publication). Applicants should submit the following hard copies to the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize, Department of Asian Studies, 350 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853:

  • 1 copy of an unpublished translation
  • 1 copy of a statement of up to 1,000 words explaining the significance of the text. Although we do not require that the translator has already obtained permission to publish the translation from the copyright holder, please include in the statement information about whether preliminary inquiries have been made or whether or not the work is in the public domain.
  • 1 printed copy of the original Japanese text
  • A brief c.v. of the translator
  • In addition, please send electronic copies of all the above as attachments to

The maximum length of a submission is 20,000 words. In case

of translation of longer works, submit an excerpt of up to 20,000 words. Repeat submissions are welcomed. Please note that

the closing date for the prize competition this year will be August 1, 2019. For the 2019 competition, one prize of $1,500 will be awarded in two different categories:

1) to an already published translator; 2) to an unpublished translator. The winners will be informed by November 1, 2019.

For further information, please visit the Asian Studies website or send questions to