Sato, Hiroaki 1942-

views updated

Sato, Hiroaki 1942-

(Hiro Sato)

PERSONAL: Born March 21, 1942, in Taiwan; naturalized U.S. citizen, 2006; son of Masao (a police officer) and Michiko (a grammar school teacher) Sato; married Nancy Rossiter (an art gallery assistant director), May 14, 1976. Ethnicity: “Japanese.”Education: Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan, M.A., 1968.

ADDRESSES: HomeNew York, NY. Office—Japan External Trade Organization, 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; fax: 212-994-8818. E-mail[email protected]; HiroNan@ix.

CAREER: Japan External Trade Organization, New York, NY, staff member, 1969—, associate director, 1980-84, became deputy director, 1984, director of research and planning, 1991—, senior research fellow, 2005—. Poet, editor, and translator. St. Andrews Presbyterian College, adjunct professor of Japanese Letters, 1985-91; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, adjunct faculty member, 1998—.

MEMBER: Haiku Society of America (president 1979-81).

AWARDS, HONORS: Best Contributor’s Award, Chicago Review, 1974, for “Anthology of Modern Japanese Poets”; Malcolm C. Doubles Award for nonfiction, 1977, for translations of Mori Oongai’s short story “The Abe Family” and Yukio Mishima’s play My Friend Hitler; shared translation prize (with Burton Watson) from PEN American Center, 1982, for From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry; grant from Pacific Basin Institute, 1994; Japanese Literary Translation Prize, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, 1999, for Breeze through Bamboo: Kanshi of Ema Saikōon; Fortner Writer and Community Award for lifelong service to the craft of writing, St. Andrews Presbyterian College, 2001.


One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English, John Weatherhill (New York, NY), 1983.

The Sword and the Mind, Overlook Press (New York, NY), 1985.

Eigo Haiku: Aru Shikei no Hirogari (essays; title means “Haiku in English: A Poetic Form Expands”), Simul Press (Tokyo, Japan), 1987.

That First Time: Six Renga on Love, and Other Poems, St. Andrews Press (Laurinburg, NC), 1988.

Manhattan Culture School (collected columns from Mainichi Daily News), Free Press Service (Tokyo, Japan) 1990.

Manhattan Bungaku Mampo (essays), Japan External Trade Organization (Tokyo, Japan), 1992.

America Hon’yaku Musha Shugyo (essays), Maruzen Publishing (Tokyo, Japan), 1993.

Legends of the Samurai, Overlook Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Yakusenai Mono: Yon’yaku ni Karemeta Bunka-ron (title means “Can Culture Be Translated?”), Simul Press (Tokyo, Japan), 1996.

(Editor, with David Burleigh) Autumn Stone in the Woods: A Tribute to Lindley Williams Hubbell, A Press (Middletown Springs, VT), 1997.

Mishima Yukio: Silk and Insight (novel), M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1998.


Poems of Princess Shikishi, Granite Publications (Hanover, NH), 1973.

Ten Japanese Poets, Granite Publications (Hanover, NH), 1973.

Spring & Asura: Poems of Kenji Miyazawa, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 1973.

Mutsuo Takahashi: Poems of a Penisist, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 1975.

Lilac Garden: Poems of Minoru Yoshioka, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 1976.

Howling at the Moon: Poems of Hagiwara Sakutarōon, University of Tokyo Press (Tokyo, Japan), 1978, expended edition, Green Integer (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.

See You Soon: Poems of Taeko Tomioko, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 1979.

Chieko and Other Poems of Takamura Kotaro, University Press of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI), 1980.

(And editor, with Burton Watson) From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry, introduction by Thomas Rimer, University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA), 1981.

Mutsuo Takahashi, A Bunch of Keys: Selected Poems, introduction by Robert Peters, Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1984.

Miyazawa Kenji, A Future of Ice: Poems and Stories of a Japanese Buddhist, North Point Press (Berkeley, CA), 1989.

Gōonzōon Yoshimasu, Osiris: The God of Stone, St. Andrews Press (Laurinburg, NC), 1989.

Michael Young, Ho wa Nichibei o Hedateru ka (title means “Legal Systems of Japan and the United States and Their Social Implications"), Japan External Trade Organization Press (Tokyo, Japan), 1989.

John Ashbery, Nami Hitotsu (title means “A Wave”), Shoshi Yamada (Tokyo, Japan), 1991.

A Brief History of Imbecility: Poetry and Prose of Takamura Kotaro, University Press of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI), 1992.

Mutsuo Takahashi: Sleeping Sinning Falling, City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 1992.

String of Beads: Complete Poems of Princess Shikishi, University Press of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI), 1993.

Right under the Big Sky, I Don’t Wear a Hat: The Haiku and Prose of Hosai Ozaki, Stone Bridge Press (Berkeley, CA), 1993.

Bashōon’s Narrow Road: Spring and Autumn Passages, Stone Bridge Press (Berkeley, CA), 1996.

Voice Garden: Poems of Mutsuo Takahashi, bilingual edition with CD-ROM recording, Star Valley Library (Kemmerer, WY), 1996.

Breeze through Bamboo: Kanshi of Ema Saikōon, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Silk and Insight: A Novel, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1998.

Reiko Koyanagi, Rabbit of the Nether World, Red Moon Press (Winchester VA) 1999.

Not a Metaphor: Poems of Kazue Shinkawa, A Press (Middletown Springs, VT), 1999.

The Girl Who Turned into Tea: Poems of Minako Na-gashima, A Press (Middletown Springs, VT), 2000.

The Village Beyond: Poems of Nobuko Kimura, A Press (Middletown Springs, VT), 2002.

Santoka: Grass and Tree Cairn, Red Moon Press (Winchester, VA), 2002.

My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Yukio Mishima, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Running in the Margins: Poems of Akira Tatehata, A Press (Middletown Springs, VT), 2003.

Toward Meaning: Poems of Kikuo Takano, A Press (Middletown Springs, VT), 2004.

(And editor) Erotic Haiku (English haiku with Japanese translations), IBC Publishing (Tokyo, Japan), 2004.

(And author of introduction) Miyazawa Kenji: Selections, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2007.

The Modern Fable: Poems of Nishiwaki Junzaburōon, Green Integer (Los Angeles, CA), 2007.

(And author of introduction) Japanese Women Poets: An Anthology, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 2007.

Sole translator, “Anthology of Modern Japanese Poets,” a special issue of Chicago Review, 1973.


(Compiler) One Hundred Frogs, John Weatherhill (New York, NY), 1995.

Author of the English-language columns “Here and How—in New York,” in Mainichi Daily News, 1984–89; “Assay” (in English and Japanese), in Coffee Break, 1990; “Hiro Sato’s U.S. Update” (in English and Japanese), in Tokyo Money Market, 1990–91; “Books in America,” in Voice, 1992; and “The View from New York,” in Japan Times, beginning 2000; Japanese-language columns include “The New York Connection,” Hon’yaku no Sekai, 1984–85; “The Art of Translation,” in Hon’yaku no Sekai, 1985–87; “New York Book Guide,” in English Journal, 1986–89; “Haiku in English,” in Haiku Kūonkan, 1988–91; “This Season in the Big Apple, in Ichōon, 1989–91; “Businessman’s ABCs to American Society,” in Tōonyōon Keizai, 1993; “PUB: New York,” in Tōonyōon Keizai, 1995–96; and “Where Two Cultures Meet,” OCS News, beginning in 1997. Contributor to encyclopedias and other reference books, including Encyclopedia of Japan. Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Japan Times, New York Times Book Review, Asia Week, Asahi Evening News, and Philadelphia Inquirer. Editor, In

SIDELIGHTS: Poet Hiroaki Sato has published numerous books of translations of Japanese poetry, including From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry, which surveys writings both ancient and modern, formal and free-form. The anthology, edited and translated with Burton Watson, was well received by critics, who found much to praise in its selection and scope. Responses to Sato’s translations were particularly complimentary; in World Literature Today, for instance, Emiko Sakurai noted that “the translating has been conscientiously done with attention to fidelity, especially by Sato.” Although Sakurai maintained that the flow of some of the formal poetry had suffered in translation, she wrote, “The conversational language of the free-form poems… translates well and has been rendered with near-perfection.”

James Kirkup, reviewing From the Country of Eight Islands in the Times Literary Supplement, observed that to understand Japanese poetry “one has always to read between the lines, and indeed between the words and between the characters.” In Kirkup’s opinion, “this is what the… translators do most admirably.” Citing Sato for his facility with the nuances of English, Kirkup added that he had “long been an admirer of [Sato’s] dazzling versions of modern Japanese poets.” A reviewer in the Washington Post Book World also credited Sato’s and Watson’s skills as translators for their renderings of “translucent, evocative lyrics.”

Anthony Thwaite was less enthusiastic in his assessment of From the Country of Eight Islands in the New York Times Book Review, commenting on the editors/ translators for what he perceived to be a lack of perception in translation and a lack of discrimination in selection. Nevertheless, the critic found in the poetry of the modern period “a wide variety of styles and attitudes and a sense of a personal voice that was missing… in the intervening centuries… From the Country of Eight Islands is very full here, with something of almost everything.”

Sato is also the author of One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English, an analytical and instructional review of haiku within and outside of Japan. Along with numerous translations, Sato also includes his own poetry. Reviewing the book in World Literature Today, James R. Morita wrote, “Wide in its scope, up-to-date and accurate in its knowledge and vision and stimulating in its presentation and interpretation, the book is intriguing: it is an important contribution to the field of Japanese literary studies and to the study of poetry.”



New York Times Book Review, February 15, 1981, Anthony Thwaite, review of From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry, pp. 13, 28.

Times Literary Supplement, October 30, 1981, James Kirkup, review of From the Country of Eight Islands, p. 1278.

Washington Post Book World, March 1, 1981, review of From the Country of Eight Islands, p. 12.

World Literature Today, spring, 1982, Emiko Sakurai, review of From the Country of Eight Islands, p. 407; autumn, 1983, James R. Morita, review of One Hundred Frogs: From Renga to Haiku to English, p. 688.*