By Jaswinder Kaur
Kota Kinabalu: It took retiree Mikio Tanaka seven years, but he never gave up the effort to translate Land Below the Wind, a pre-World War Two story on Sabah, into Japanese.
Tanaka first came across the book, originally written in English by American Agnes Newton Keith, when he was posted to Sandakan in 1964 while serving with Mitsui and Company, a trading establishment.
"I was very busy with my work then so I was unable to finish reading it. After my retirement in 1987, I started reading again and one of the books I picked up was Land Below the Wind.
"There was a Japanese edition published in 1940 but I felt that the language needed to be updated so I started translating it from the original English version. I wanted to make it easier to read," Tanaka told the New Straits Times.
Into his sixth year of translation, Tanaka contacted Natural History Publications (Sabah) publisher Datuk C.L. Chan and asked him about the possibility of having the Japanese edition printed in Sabah.
"We had a meeting and today the book is ready. I am not sure if I will ever translate another book into Japanese though. It has been a good experience and I have perhaps learned to become more patient," Tanaka, 76, said.
He expects the translated version, called Kazashimo no Kuni, to receive good response from Japanese travellers who were keen to learn more about Sabah.
Land Below the Wind has been translated into more than 10 different languages since it was written in the late 1930s. Newton Keith was the wife of Harry Keith, who served in several capacities including Conservator of Forests and Game Warden here.
The Keiths left Sabah, then known as North Borneo, in 1952 after 18 years in the State. After moving to several other countries, they settled in Canada where Newton Keith died in 1982 at the age of 81.
Sabah is known to many as the "Land Below the Wind", adapted from the title of Newton Keith’s first book.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat yesterday launched the Japanese version of the 436-page book, which retails at RM40 and will initially be available in local bookstores.
"With each reprint of the book, and now this latest translation in Japanese, the documentary of Sabah’s heritage and history is brought to life, encouraging us to preserve and share knowledge on our traditions," Chong said.
Chan said this was the second publication, printed by his company, which had been translated into Japanese. The first was Discovering Sabah.
Courtesy of New Straits Times