Past Program / 2021 Program / Hasegawa Keita
Thank you for inviting me to the ASIAN PUBLISHERS FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM 2021. My name is Keita Hasegawa working at POPLAR publishing here in Tokyo, Japan. I’m an editor and also work in the section of Intellectual Property team, where I handle our character’s license, such as Oshiri-Tantei.
I will introduce my company. POPLAR was founded as a children’s books publisher and hattractive characters. We focus on educational content as well, and we also publish books and encyclopedias for school libraries.as been in business for over 70 years. Now there are 200 employees working and publish around 300 titles a year. We have many long-selling picture books and have many attractive characters. We focus on educational content as well, and we also publish books and encyclopedias for school libraries.
The book I present this time is “Ant fairies in the Midnight” by Shin Sun mi, which is originally published by Changbi. This is our latest picture book from Korea. From my point of view, it combines traditional Korean illustration with modern sensibilities and humor. It seems even adults want to keep looking at every corner of the picture. Of course, children readers have always been doing such things.
In Korea and Japan, Even though our countries are next to each other and we interact a lot in entertainment genre, we don’t know much about each other’s country’s traditional illustration. We have not been familiar with each other’s drawing also. I think picture books can be an interesting media for getting to know each other better, and I think this book has just such a role. In terms of children’s books, there are some long selling books from Korea, such as Survival series and the picture book “the pool in the watermelon.” And I’ll answer the question later, right now here in Japan, not only movies and music, but also Korean literature is on the verge of a boom.
Some editors at our company go to a book cafe called Chekkkori, which is located in Jimbocho, Tokyo, you can read Korean picture books before they are translated. And an organization called the K-BOOK Association introduces us to books of note. I myself also check out SNS of Korean bookstores and illustrators, especially via Instagram. I check some accounts of favorite independent bookstores, such as thanks books and Sachungi book.
My collegue who edited the book “Plastic island” said me that she met the author at the Seoul Book Fair and decided to put not only the translation of Author’s afterword but also the Korean text as it was. This might not have been possible if it had been a Western author whom she had never met. I think the closeness of distance can lead to interesting collaborations between us.
We have the impression that picture books are reaching not only children, but also adults who like Korean culture. So, Korean literature is booming among adults. I believe that the popularity of Korean literature among adults will spread to picture books in the future.
Interest in Korean entertainment culture like movies, dramas and music is tremendous in Japan , as it is worldwide. And When it comes to Books, since the hit of “Kim Ji Young, born 1982”, Korean feminism literature has received so much attention and it is featured in magazines and TV shows as well.
Now We have notable Korean literature and essays released every month. Especially, the essays that tell people to be themselves are trend in bookstores very much. I mean those books are not only for women but also for men, for all ordinary people. I think these books are suitable for our moods that are peculiar to Japanese society, where some people may feel difficult to live. there are many younger people in Japan who sympathize young generation in Korea, I guess.
There are two young Korean artists that I like. AE SHOONG(エシュン) and SKYE(スカイ). AE SHOONG held exhibition at B&B bookstore Simokitasawa, Tokyo a few years ago. Since then, I’ve been checking out her illustrations on social media. And SKYE, I firstly met this picture book at the bookstore in Seoul when I was invited by Asian fellow ship 2019. I don’t know much about Hangul, but translating by app, it seems so nice, very original.
As in the book I mentioned earlier “Ant fairies in midnight”, The traditional style of illustration is one of the characteristics of Korean picture books, I guess, and on the other hand I think the fact that there are so many younger talents debuting is also a charm of Korean picture books. Everything they draw, lines. colors and sense of humor, nonsense feeling, everything is very fresh to me. I would like to translate their books, and would like to ask their original works in the future.
Adventure of Sorrow / POPLAR Publishing
This is a First one I’d like to promote for you. This picture book, The Adventure of Sorrow, is about the universal theme, death. It is about overcoming the death of people and animals close to us, and then living with them without forgetting them. Picture book author Kumiko Kondo has always depicted nature, animals, and small creatures with great emotion.
Kasya / POPLAR Publishing
The other two books are baby books like of repetitive picture books. This is titled “Kasya”, which is the sound of a camera being taken. You say Cheese! and then everything including animals or some food answer with wonderful smiling faces! I think the moment when a camera is pointed at you is one of the happiest moments in a family. I’m sure your children will laugh along with you.
Tomorokoshi Nuguzo / POPLAR Publishing
The other book is Tomorokoshi Nuguzo. It’s just corn making a funny noise and just shedding its peel. Finally, he takes a bath. That’s all. It’s easy to read for parents who have never read picture books, and more importantly, it’s a lot of fun in the house. As long as you don’t mind the noise, it’s the most fun picture book recently released by our company. My daughter also enjoys reading it every night while taking off her clothes before taking a bath, which is a routine.