One of two Winners of the 2011-2012 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Translation Award

Matthew Fraleigh
Assistant Professor of East Asian Literature and Culture at Brandeis University

New Chronicles of Yanagibashi and Diary of a Journey to the West: 
Narushima Ryūhoku Reports from Home and Abroad
 (Cornell East Asia Series)

Matthew Fraleigh’s carefully annotated translations of Narushima Ryūhoku’s (1837 – 1884) New Chronicles of Yanagibashi (Ryūkyō shinshi) and Diary of a Joukeerney to the West (Kōsei nichijō) help us appreciate the pivotal position of Ryūhoku occupied as someone who bridged the literary worlds of both Edo and Meiji. The first of these two translations presents Ryūhoku’s nuanced, often satirical contemplation of Yanagibashi, one of Tokyo’s celebrated entertainment districts that flourished and faded during the tumultuous 1850s – 1870s. Fraleigh masterfully preserves the linguistic playfulness of the text by providing translations of the colloquial glosses that Ryūhoku added to his Chinese prose. At a time when Japanese writing in various sinocentric styles reached a brilliant final flowering before giving way to what we now call “modern Japanese,” this text, as well as the poetry-filled Diary of a Journey to the Westthat records the author’s trip around the world in 1872 to 1873, show Ryūhoku’s creative struggle to find the proper language with which to capture the harmony and dissonance of tradition and modernity in their frenzied dance with each other. Fortunately for the reader, Ryūhoku polyphonic voice as a penetrating critic, a budding journalist, a faithful chronicler, and as a lyrical poet is appropriately matched by Fraleigh’s boundless erudition and sensitivity to style.  For more inforation please go to: