September 25, 2005

Prologue 2 (A Thousand Leagues of Wind)

The Rikkan (六官), or Six Ministries: Administration, Education, Protocol, Defense, Justice, Public Works (治・教・礼・兵・刑・事). Also known as the Ministries of Heaven, Earth, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter (天官・地官・春官・夏官・秋官・冬官).

The nengou system, called kokureki (国歴) in the novel, resets to year 1 upon the accession of a new emperor. In the past, technically, emperors could chose a new nengou whenever the fancy struck them, which is why you can have a nengou of "Eiwa 6" when the king has been ruling for 30 years.

The Japanese emperor is never addressed by name (first or last) as are European royalty (e.g. Prince Charles). It is also considered rude in general for a subordinate to refer to someone of higher social stature by their actual name. Title is preferred. Even within families, a younger child will refer to an older sibling as aniki (lit. "older brother") or aneki (lit. older sister) rather than by name or even the pronoun "you" (the worse insults in Japanese are derivations of "you").

"loaf of bread": I couldn't resist the Jean Valjean reference; originally 「一個の餅」 or block of mochi, pressed and dried rice that has the approximate consistency and appearance of hard paraffin. Pre-refrigeration, it was the only way to store cooked rice.

芳 [ほう] Hou (kingdom name)
峯王仲韃 [ほうおうちゅうたつ] lit. "Summit King" Chuutatsu of Hou
峯麟登霞 Hourin Touka (kirin of Hou)
孫 [そん] Son
建 [けん] Ken
永和 [えいわ] Eiwa
鷹隼 [ようしゅん] (arch) lit. "hawk and falcon," Youshun
蒲蘇 [ほそ] Hoso
祥瓊 [しょうけい] Shoukei
佳花 [かか] Kaka
恵侯 [けいこう] Marquis of Kei, Kingdom of Hou (Kei Province Lord), not to be confused with the Kingdom of Kei (慶)
月渓 [げっけい] Gekkei
梧桐 [ごとう] Godou
白稚 [はくち] Hakuchi
二声 [にせい] Ni ("two") + sei "voice")

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# posted by Blogger Greki
6/17/2009 12:31 PM   
First of all I would like to thank you for translating these amazing novels. While I read The Sea of Shadows from the official book, I'm afraid my patience did not hold, and thankfully found your translations.

Second, I wonder, who ranks higher, the Queen Consort or the Taiho? I know the kings chosen by the kirins, even though they may be female, are called kings (Lady-King if you may, but nevertheless King), and that is because there is no higher rank to King other than Emperor.

Queen ranks lower than King, unless she is Queen Regnant. Because of that, the husband of the Queen of UK is refered to as Consort to Queen, and he is also refered to as Duke. Dukes are the highest rank directly below the monarchs (dukedom). Princes are below them, unless they are the sovereigners (principalities).

Anyway, back to track. Who ranks higher, the Consort or the Taiho?
# posted by Blogger Eugene
6/17/2009 1:27 PM   
Family members don't have any rank or privileges except that granted by the king, while the Taiho is always the governor of the capital province and the commander-in-chief of the provincial detachments of the Imperial Army.

Put another way, what a king does with his own family is up to him--and as Shoukei discovers, once that patronage is lost, family members can find themselves in a very perilous position--but he ignores the Taiho at the cost of his own life.

Moreover, as Enho explains (p. 66), in the world of the Twelve Kingdoms, not only can no direct descendant of the king succeed the king, nobody with the same surname can.
# posted by Blogger Greki
6/17/2009 5:04 PM   
I see. Thank you!

Another quick question: I have noticed that you refer to each King as Royal Kei, or Royal Hou. Why is it that in the books they refer to the Kings as "Ever-King", "Glory-King", "Peace-King"..?
# posted by Blogger Eugene
6/18/2009 12:10 PM   
TokyoPop chose to translate the literal meanings of the names. I think transliterating proper names as pronounced is preferable. Also, the names follow a specific pattern: the kanji are always pronounced the same as the name of the kingdom: Kingdom of En / Royal En / Enki.

To me, addressing people by the dictionary meaning of their names feels unnatural. For example, while Japan (Nippon) can be read as "Land of the Rising Sun" and China (Zhong Guo) as "Middle Kingdom," those descriptive meanings are distinct from the names of the countries.