Translation into Persian of works written in French, English, and other European languages began in Nāṣer-al-Din Shah’s reign (1848-96). The Government Translation Bureau (Dār-al-tarjama-ye ḵāṣṣa-ye dawlati) under Moḥammad-Ḥasan Khan Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana engaged in translating diverse historical, geographical, and literary works. Perhaps some of these touched on East Asian history and culture, including Japan. But a specific introduction of Japan to Persian readers began when Japanese military victories over China (Sino-Japanese War, 1894-95) and, especially, Russia (Russo-Japanese War, 1904-05) excited the interest of Iranians and other Western Asian nations. One such notable work was Mamlakat-e šams-e ṭāleʿ yā dawlat-e Žāpon compiled and translated by Māṭāvus Khan Melikiān and published in 1904. In 1907 Ḥosayn-ʿAli Tājer Širāzi published an account of the Russo-Japanese War in 2,000 couplets of epic verse. Titled Mikādo-nāma, it was based on translated reports and commentaries. For four decades after Iran’s Constitutional Revolution (1905-11, q.v.), however, there are no records of any further Persian publications about Japan.

In the early 1940s, after the abdication of Reza Shah in 1941, the changed political atmosphere led to a revival of publishing activities, and several new literary journals appeared. Prominent among them was Soḵān, founded in 1943 by Parviz Nātel Ḵānlari, who was also its chief editor. Soḵan provided incentives and opportunity for growth to the promising younger generation of writers and translators. Many celebrated literary figures, including Ḵān-lari himself and Ṣādeq Hedāyat (q.v.), translated examples of Japanese literature from French or other Western languages, and these were published in Soḵan (see Rajabzadeh, 1997). These include translations of some old Japanese stories and a few stories of Kyōgen (Japanese comic plays) by Hamid ʿEnāyat; “Urāshimā Tārō,” a Japanese folk-tale, by Hedāyat; and a representative work of Junichirō Tanizaki (1886-1965) by Zahrā Ḵānlari. Japanese poetry was first introduced to Persian readers by a number of contributors to Soḵan, of whom Ḥamid ʿEnāyat, Sohrāb Sepehri, and Aḥmad Šāmlu are notable. Sepehri rendered a number of tanka verses (a classical 31 syllable poetry, comprising five lines of five, seven, five, seven, and seven syllables) into beautiful Persian. Selections of the 14th-century Tsurezuregusa (Essays in idleness), a collection of observations and anecdotes by the monk Kenkō Yoshida (d. 1350), were also first introduced in Soḵan—apparently translated by P. N. Ḵānlari.

Translations continued to appear in the 1950s and 1960s in such literary journals as Aḥmad Šāmlu’s Ketāb-e hafta and Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Ṣāʿedi’s Alefbā. ʿAbbās Saʿidi (1973) is credited as one of the first authors since Māṭāvus Khan Melikiān to compile an introductory book on Japan, based on sources in European languages. More recent works on modern Japanese history include Aḥmad Birašk’s translation (1996) of The Japan Reader (ed. Jon Livingston et al.).

Japanese classical poetry is represented in Persian by anthologies of haiku translations (Šāmlu, 1997; Maeda and Pāšāʾi, 2002), as well as Gol-e ṣadbarg, a selection from the 8th-century anthology of poems in a number of different verse forms, Man’yōshū (Collection of 10,000 leaves), which is the earliest collection of Japanese poetry (selections tr. Rajabzadeh and Fujimoto, 1993). Prose literature is represented by the Tsurezuregusa (tr. Rajabzadeh, 1993).

Since the 1950s a considerable number of books containing Persian translations of short stories and novels by Japanese writers has been published, mostly introducing works of Natsume Sōseki (1867-1916), Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927), Masuji Ibuse (1898- ), Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972), Kojiro Serisawa (1897- ), Yukio Mishima (1925-70), and Kenzaburō Ōe (1935- ). Compilations of selected short stories by Japanese writers have also been published, such as the work translated by Ārtuš Budaqiān. In recent years, two literary journals, Kelk (no. 65, 1995) and Pol-e firuza (1/4, 2002), have published special issues on Japan with Hashem Rajabzadeh as guest editor; these contain a number of articles translated from Japanese.

Japan has also been the subject of original fiction written in Persian. A number of works depict adventures and hardships experienced by unauthorized Iranian workers there in the 1990s. Examples are ʿAbbās Mašhadi’s Ḵasta-delān dar Žāpon (1997) and Ḥamid Mobini’s Man az Žāpon āmada-am (1977). Mašhadi’s is a fascinating work of fiction based on a new image of Japan which took shape among tens of thousands of Iranians, mostly unemployed young men, who in the 1990s adventured to Japan, traveling on tourist visas in search of temporary jobs (see above, iv). The references made in the work to things Japanese, locations, and place names, however, suggest that the writer himself has not lived in Japan, at least for a long time. Mobini’s work is a typical and factual diary of an educated young man who has experienced the hardship of living and working in Japan as an illegal worker.

Publications on Japan and Japanese arts translated into Persian include books on Japanese drama and the classical theatrical genres of Nō (Noh), Kabuki, and Kyōgen. Some works related to Japanese films also have been translated, including Sinemā-ye Yāsujirō Ozu (Yasujirō Ozu’s [1903-63] films) compiled by A. Ṭabāṭabāʾi, which presents the oeuvre of a director noted for his moving depictions of family life, its close bonds and its tensions. In the field of fine arts, Šiša-ye Irani is Ārmān Šišegarān’s translation (from the English version) of Shinji Fukai’s Persian Glass.

In the area of philosophy and religion, translated works mostly relate to Zen Buddhism, an example of which is Delārā Qahramān’s Ṣad ḥekāyat-e Zen, a translation of one hundred selected Zen stories. Hashem Rajabzadeh rendered in Persian the Bukkyō seiten (Teaching of Buddha), compiled by the Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism), as Čonin goft Budā (1984).

A number of Japanese travel accounts and memoirs of Japanese who traveled in Iran from 1880 on have been translated by Rajabzadeh, some with the collaboration of Japanese researchers. These include works by Masaharu Yoshida (traveled 1880-81) and his traveling companion Nobuyoshi Furukawa, Atsuuji Ashikaga (1934 to 1964), Iwatarō Uchiyama (1926-27), Akiyo Kasama (1929-32), and Eiji Inoue (1934 to 1984). (See also, above, iii.)

Other non-fiction works include Morio Ono’s account of Iranian agriculture, translated by Rajabzadeh as Ḵayrābād-nāma (1988). Rajabzadeh has also translated a number of articles by Japanese scholars who are engaged in Iranian studies, including part of Seichō Matsumoto’s work on the introduction of Persian art into Japan in ancient times. For the benefit of the Persian-speaking community in Japan, Yoshifusa Seki did the Persian translation in a conversation guide (one of a series) for foreigners with Japanese doctors (Ōnishi and Masumo). A few textbooks used in teaching Japanese to non-Japanese students also have been translated into Persian; the original sources are mainly in English.


Literature. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, “Rashōmon” and other short stories, tr. Amir-Faridun Gorgāni as Rāšumun wa dāstānhā-ye digar, Tehran, 1965.

Ārtuš Budāqiān, tr. Bargozida-ye dāstānhā-ye kutāh az nevisandagān-e moʿāṣer-e Žāpon, Tehran, 1999.

Ḥamid ʿEnāyat, “Nemāyeš-e žāponi” (about Nō [Noh], Kyōgen, and Kabuki theater), Soḵan 7/1, 1956, pp. 46-51.

Idem, “Šʿer-e žāponi,” Soḵan 6/10, 1955, pp. 903-5.

Idem, “Dāstānhā-ye žāponi” (a survey of Japanese prose), Soḵan 6/11, 1956, pp. 1010-13.

Sādeq Hedāyat, “Qeṣṣa-ye žāponi-ye Urāshimā,” Soḵan 2/1, 1944, pp. 43-45.

Ḥosayn-ʿAli Tājer Širāzi, Mikādo-nāma, Calcutta, 1905-07; ed. ʿAli Amin AnsÂāri, Tehran, 2006.

Masuji Ibuse, Kuro ame (Black rain), Tokyo, 1966; tr. Karim Kešāvarz as Bārān-e siāh, Tehran, 1977.

Parviz N. Ḵānlari, selections of Tsurezuregusa, tr. as falsafa-ye žaponi, in Soḵan 2/7, 1945, p. 512.

Takeshi Katsufuji, Haiku poems on Iran and Afghanistan, tr. H. Rajabzadeh as “Čand hāiku dar bāra-ye Irān wa Afḡānestān,” Āyanda 17/5-8, 1989, pp. 598-99.

Yasunari Kawabata, Yama no oto (The sound of the mountain), Tokyo, 1954; tr. D. Qahremānpoor as Āvā-ye kuhestān, Tehran, 1984.

K. Maeda and ʿA. Pāšāʾi, trs., Lāk-e pūk-e zanjara: haiku-ye žāponi, Tehran, 2002.

Man’yōshū, tr. H. Rajabzadeh and Yuko Fujimoto as Man’yō hyaku-sen: Gol-e sÂad-barg: gozida-ye māniyushu, šeʾr-e qadim-e Žāpon, Mashad, 1993.

ʿAbbās Mašhadi, Ḵasta-delān dar Žāpon, Tehran, 1988.

Yukio Mishima, short stories, tr. Aḵtar Eʿtemādi as Haft pol, Tehran, 1985.

Idem, Kinkakuji, tr. M. ʿĀliḵāni as Maʿbad-e ṭelāʾi, Tehran, 1993.

Ḥamid Mobini, Man az Žāpon āmada-am, Tehran, 1997.

Kenzaburō Ōe, Man’en gannen no futtobōru (Soccer in the year 1860), Tokyo, 1967; tr. J. Bester as Silent Cry, Tokyo, 1974; tr. Farzān Sojudi as Faryād-e ḵāmuš, Tehran, 1998. Delārā Qahramān, tr., Ṣad hekāyat-e Zen, Tehran, 1992.

Reżā Saʿid-ḥosayni, “Three classical Japanese poems,” in Soḵan 9/2, 1958, p. 177.

Hashem Rajabzadeh, Andiša va eḥsās dar šeʿr-e moʿāṣer-e Žāpon, Tehran, 1979.

Idem, “Žāpon dar Soḵan,” in Iraj Afšār and Hans Robert Roemer, eds., Soḵanvāra: panjāh-o-panj goftār-e pažuheši ba yād-e Doktor Parviz Nātel Ḵānlari, Tehran, 1997, pp. 308-41.

Sohrāb Sepehri, “Seven Japanese tanka poems,” in Soḵan 6/8, 1955, pp. 703-4.

Aḥmad Šāmlu, tr., seven Japanese poems, in: Soḵan 3/8-9, 1947, pp. 616-20.

Ahmad Šāmlu et al., Haiku: šeʿr-e žāponi az āḡāz tā emruz, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1997.

Kojirō Serisawa, short stories, tr. H. Qadimi and M. Nuri as Dāstānhā-ye kutāh-e Ḵāvar-e Dur, Shiraz, 1992.

Natsume Sōseki, Botchan (Sonny boy), Tokyo, 1906; tr. H. Rajabzadeh as Botchān, Tehran, 1980. Junichirō Tanizaki, “Shisei” (Tattooing), tr. Zahrā Ḵānlari as “Ḵālkubi,” Soḵan 6/8, 1955, pp. 694-702.

Kenkō Yoshida, Tsurezuregusa (Essays in idleness), various editions and translations, e.g., The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko, tr. Donald Keene, New York, 1967; tr. H. Rajabzadeh as Tsure-zure-gusā: golestān-e žāponi, Tehran, 1993.

History and travel. Atsuuji Ashikaga, Iran (Travels in Iran), in E. Imoto and G. Itō, eds., Ashikaga Atsuuji chosakushū (Collected works of Atsuuji Ashikaga), Tōkai University, 1988; comp. and tr. H. Rajabzadeh as Safar-nāma, ḵāṯerāt, wa yād-nāma-ye Āšikāgā Ātsuuji, Tehran, 2004.

Maḥmud Khan Eḥtešām-al-Salṭana, Ḵāṯerāt-e Ehtešām-al-Salṭana, ed. Sayyed Moḥammad-Mahdi Musawi, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1989.

Moḥammad-Ḥasan Khan Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Ruz-nāma-ye ḵāṭerāt, ed. Iraj Afšār, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1987.

Nobuyoshi Furukawa, Perushia kikō (Travels in Iran), Tokyo, 1890; tr. Kinji Eura and Hashem Rajabzadeh as Safar-nāma-ye Furukawa, Tehran, 2005.

Eiji Inoue, Waga kaisō no Iran (My memories of Iran), ed. Masayuki Inoue, Tokyo, 1986; tr. H. Rajabzadeh as Irān va man: ḵāṭerahā wa yāddāšthā-ye Eiji Inoue, Tehran, 2004.

Akio Kasama, Sabaku no kuni: Perushiya, Toruko, Arabiya (The desert countries: Iran, Turkey, and Arabia), Tokyo, 1935; tr. H. Rajabzadeh as Safar-nāma-ye Kāsāmā, naḵostin wazir-moḵtār-e Žāpon dar Irān, Tehran, 2001.

Māṭāvus Khan Melikiān, comp. and tr., Mamlakat-e šams-e ṭāleʿ yā dawlat-e Žāpon, Tehran, 1904.

Iwatarō Uchiyama, “Iran,” in Hankotsu 77 nen: Uchiyama Iwatarō no jinsei (77 years defiance: the life of Iwatarō Uchiyama), Yokohama, 1968; tr. H. Rajabzadeh as “Safar-nāma wa ḵāṭerāt-e Uchiyāmā Iwātārō, naḵostin ferestāda-ye Žāpon ba Irān dar sada-ye bistom, Mehr 1305-Mehr 1306” in Kelk, no. 65, 1995, pp. 305-42.

Masaharu Yoshida, Kaikyō tanken Perushia no tabi (Adventures in Muslim Persia) (1880-1881), Tokyo, 1894; tr. H. Rajabzadeh as Safar-nāma-ye Māsāhāru Yoshidā, naḵostin ferestāda-ye Žāpon ba Irān dar dawra-ye Qajar, 1297-98 h.q.–1880-81 milādi, Mashad, 1994.

Art and culture. Shinji Fukai, Perushia no garasu, Kyoto, 1973; tr. Edna Crawford as Persian Glass, New York and Tokyo, 1977; tr. Ārmān Šišegarān as Šiša-ye irāni, Tehran, 1992. Y

ukichi Fukuzawa, Bunmeiron no gairyaku, Tokyo, 1875; tr. David A. Dilworth and G. Cameron Hurst as An Outline of a Theory of Civilization, Tokyo, 1973; tr. Čangiz Pahlavān as Nāẓariya-ye tamaddon, Tehran, 1985. Seichō Matsumoto, Peruseporisu kara Āsukā e (From Persepolis to Asuka), in part tr. H. Rajabzadeh and Toshimi Itō as “Nemunahā-ye honar-e Iran dar Žāpon,” Pol-e firuza 1/4, 2002, pp. 118-26.

Morio Ono, Iran nōmin 25 nen no dorama (A 25-year drama with Iranian farmers), Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), Tokyo, 1990; tr. H. Rajabzadeh as Ḵayrābād-nāma: 25 sāl bā rūstāʾiān-e Irān, Tehran, 1998. Hashem Rajabzadeh, Žāpon: diruz o emruz, Tehran, 2005. ʿAbbās Saʿidi, comp. and tr., Žāpon: baḥṯ-i dar bāra-ye sar-zamin wa mardom-e Žāpon, Mashad, l964.

A. A. Ṭabāṭabāʾi, comp. and tr., Sinemā-ye Yāsujirō Ozu, Tehran, 1988; based on Tadao Satō, Yasujirō Ozu no geijutsu (The art of Yasujirō Ozu), Tokyo, 1978, and other sources. Shūgaku Yamabe et al., Bukkyō seiten (Teachings of Buddha), Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism), Tokyo, 1973; tr. H. Rajabzadeh as Čonin goft Budā, Tokyo, 1984.

Other works. Edward Behr, Hirohito: Behind the Myth, London, 1990; tr. Arasṭu Āḏari as Hirohito dar warā-ye osṭura, Tehran, 1995.

Felicien Challaye, Contes et légendes du Japon, Paris, 1931; tr. Ardašir Nikpur as Dāstānhā-ye žāponi, Tehran, 1961.

Herman Kahn, The Emerging Japanese Super-state, New York, 1970; tr. Soruš Ḥabibi as Žāpon, Tehran, 1979.

Jon Livingston et al., eds., The Japan Reader, 2 vols., New York, 1973; tr. Aḥmad Birašk as Šenāḵt-e Žāpon, Tehran, 1996. Akio Morita, Edwin M Reingold, and Mitsuko Shimomura, Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony, New York, 1986; tr. M. Shimomura as Meido-in-Japan: waga teikenteki kokusai senryaku, Tokyo, 1987; tr. H. Rajabzadeh as Taraqqi-e Žāpon: talāš-e āgāhāna yā moʿjeza, Tehran, 1995.

Mamoru Ōnishi and Hisashi Masumo, Gaikokujin to nihonjin ishi no rinshō kaiwa-shū 10. Perushyago-hen (Clinical diagnostic conversations between foreigners and Japanese doctors, no. 10. Persian language); Persian section (qesmat-e fārsi) tr. Yoshifusa Seki with co-title Majmūʿa-ye mokālamāt-e bālini bayn-e ḵārejiān wa pezeškān-e žāponi, Tokyo, 1992.

Edwin O. Reischauer, Japan, Past and Present, New York, 1946, etc.; tr. Maḥmud Moṣāḥab as Žāpon dar goḏašta wa ḥāl(l), Tehran, 2000.

(Hashem Rajabzadeh)

Originally Published: December 15, 2008

Last Updated: April 13, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XIV, Fasc. 6, pp. 577-580

Cite this entry:

Hashem Rajabzadeh, “JAPAN xiii. TRANSLATIONS OF JAPANESE WORKS INTO PERSIAN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, XIV/5, pp. 577-580, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/japan-xiii-translations-of-japanese-works-into-persian (accessed on 30 December 2012).