Sanseidou published an interview with Miura Shion in 2013. Miura Shion is the original author of Fune wo Amu (2011) otherwise known as The Great Passage. Its movie adaptation (2013) went on to be selected as Japan’s submission for the “Best Foreign Language Film” at the 86th Academy Awards. Starting from October 14, an anime adaptation will be broadcast on the noitaminA block. This interview consists of eleven parts. As such, I will translate the interview in eleven posts over the course of the next couple of months while the anime airs.
Miura Shion “The World of Dictionaries” Interview
Encountering a Dictionary
It was heavy, full of words, and wildly different from the dictionaries I had used up until that point. I thought, “I became a grown-up!”. The sensation of doing things such as turning over the pages was also amazing.
Miura-san, do you remember your first encounter with a dictionary?
Miura Shion: I don’t remember it very much. While I was in primary school I think I used a Japanese dictionary meant for primary school children. However, at that time I didn’t have words that I wanted to look up in particular… I have memories of learning how to use a dictionary in class, but I don’t remember what I used it for. Therefore to me, if one can speak of an encounter with a dictionary, it would be the Daijirin[ref]A major Japanese dictionary published by Sanseidou.[/ref] by Sanseidou-san which I received when I entered middle school.
Is that so! Then perhaps that was its first edition. The first edition of the “Daijirin” was publicized in the year 1988.
Miura Shion: I think so too. If I remember correctly, some relative said something like “Let’s give this to you!” as if I had won a golf competition, because I had just entered middle school. I forgot who gave it to me though.
And that “Daijirin” was for your personal use.
Miura Shion: Indeed. Its book title was printed with gold foil on the front cover. It was heavy, full of words, and wildly different from the dictionaries I had used up until that point. I thought, “I became a grown-up!”. The sensation of doing things such as turning over the pages was also amazing. Actually, I have a paper fetish (lol). It also contained many illustrations, so I already became engrossed in it. I made endeavors at reproducing an illustration of a Buddhist image in large.
You reproduced that line drawing?
Miura Shion: When I flipped every single page and found the illustration of the Buddhist image, I read it and transcribed a great number of things which I took a liking to on countless of paper sheets. I don’t know why I did such a thing, but it was a great pleasure to me.
So that means as far as you are concerned, the “Daijirin” is definitely the dictionary you first encountered?
Miura Shion: To me it was. I also used the “Kojien”[ref]Japanese dictionary published by Iwanami.[/ref], and used both of them. However, I kept using the “Daijirin”, which I got when I became a middle schooler, the whole time. The spine and such are already tattered. But I still have it at home now. I buy the revised editions each time, but I haven’t thrown away the worn out first edition.
As someone who is near the dictionary making process this makes me very happy to hear. Thank you very much. However, if I may ask you about the current topic, when it comes to your personal experiences with dictionaries in middle school, rather than using a dictionary because you don’t know a word…
Miura Shion: Gazing at it is what I enjoy.
You have read it, including the illustrations, haven’t you.
Miura Shion: Yes, I really liked turning the pages, gazing at it, and reading the entries that piqued my curiosity.
Did your vocabulary increase while discovering unknown words?
Miura Shion: Well… I can’t remember words like that. I memorized a word like Amoghapasa, when I reproduced the picture of the Buddhist image, and it’s a Buddhist name which I haven’t been able to forget since then. However, I wasn’t able to remember vocabulary that seemed useful for everyday life or studies either.
So that’s how it feels like to play in the world of dictionaries.
Miura Shion: Yes yes. I like reading them, and even now I love it.
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