Every time someone starts reading from Episode 1 it always gives me a lot of pleasure and pain at the same time. It’s because I tell myself to rewrite the beginning part of it.
This is my humble opinion but I’m yet to be convinced that Bakin did justice to his own masterpiece by how he opened up Episode 1 – quite frankly, it’s not the most enticing opening I’ve ever read, nothing less than which the story deserves. Actually it’s probably not his fault. At least not entirely. I suspect a lot of it is due to us lacking the background knowledge for the setting he’s trying to lay out. Bakin doesn’t indulge himself in unnecessary sentiment. He just gets on with it and starts explaining the historical setting, which must have been familiar to the contemporary readers and induced a lot of emotions just by itself but not to us. Not to non-Japanese readers and probably not even to modern Japanese readers.
In translating and writing out the story I try to be as truthful to the original text, not just literally on the surface but at the core of the meanings it’s trying to convey. The beginning part of Episode 1 is probably the only part where I deviated. Or maybe one of the extremely few parts as my memory is likely to fail with the earlier parts which I started out with quite a few years ago. Anyway making it as accessible and enticing as possible seemed more important than my loyalty so I decided to step out the norm I set for myself and experiment a little. Still, I can’t convince myself that I’ve saved the situation well enough. If you one day wake up to find the opening page of Episode 1 to read the most stunningly alluring, just know that I’d be grinning like a Cheshire cat. Or dreaming the happiest dreams after a great big party for one.
Not quite the Cheshire cat. Hope you’ll find out about this one in my favourite episode in future. Courtesy of fumikura.net, a Hakkenden treasure trove.