- Japanese Slavic and East European studies (ISSN:03891186)
- vol.19, pp.73-96, 1999-03-31
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship between the Russian song, introduced to Japan by Daikokuya Kodayu, and its translation by him. Daikokuya Kodayu was a Japanese sailor who was cast ashore in Russia during the period of Japanese political isolation from the rest of the world. After a decade of wandering around Russia, he and his two compatriots returned to their homeland aboard a Russian embassy ship to Japan. Upon his return, he informed Japan about things he had seen and heard in Russia. Astonished by the abundance of his information, the Japanese government sent to him Katsuragawa Hoshu, a Rangakusha (that is, the representative of the so-called "Dutch Sciences"), in order to obtain more information about Russia. As a result, Hoshu's report "Short news about wandering in the North Seas" (Hokusa Bunryaku) was compiled. Hoshu inserted in this famous report one of the popular Russian songs of those days and the Japanese translation of it by Kodayu. In previous research about this song, scholars' attention usually focused on its authorship, but Kodayu's translation which accompanied it, up to now remained beyond any observation. In this paper we first tried to restore the original Russian text based on Kodayu's transcription, then analyzed divergences between the translation and original text. As a result, we came to the conclusion that in the divergences Kodayu hid asecret message. We also think that the Russian song of Kodayu is a hybrid of individual work and folklore, and the Japanese translation is also a mixture of translation and adaptation. In Russian history this song in turn became lyric, then a soldier's tune, and later on a revolutionary one. For some short period of its rich history, it also happened to become a connecting link between Russian and Japanese cultures.