Getting to know… Hitomi Yoshio


A series introducing the Visiting Scholars & Fellows in residence at HYI this year

Hitomi Yoshio (Associate Professor of Global Japanese Literary and Cultural Studies, Waseda University)
Harvard-Yenching Institute Visiting Scholar, 2022-23
“The Birth of Women Writers: Authorship, Publishing, and Translation in Modern Japan”

What got you interested in your research topic/field?

I always loved to read books about faraway cultures. My favorite books growing up were translated books – A Little Princess, Anne of Green Gables, Doctor Dolittle, Momo. And when I could read in English, my favorites were Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, then eventually, To the Lighthouse. Funny enough, I was never really interested in Japanese literature, which is my specialty now. But I did enjoy the rhythm of classical waka poetry and memorized all one hundred poems from Hyakunin isshu in elementary school before I even knew what the poems meant…!

Outside of work, where can we find you?

Walking along the Charles River Esplanade. I live five minutes from the river on the Brookline side, so I often take long walks there during the weekend with my husband and daughter. I love looking out at the water – it makes me feel calm and peaceful. I also enjoy watching the geese and the runners. I’m usually reading a book or sitting in front of my computer all day, so it’s nice to spend time outside on the weekends and take in the beauty of Boston.

What would you want to do most as a career if you were not in academia?

I would probably be a full-time literary translator. There’s something wonderful about transforming a piece of work that you love, and making it your own by turning it into another language. It’s such an intimate, creative experience. If I had the talent, I would write novels or poems myself, but being a translator would be the next best thing for me.

But really, I can’t think of anything better than being in academia.

Read Prof. Yoshio’s bio on our website.

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