As a manga, Miyakobijin offered several interesting challenges for a Japanese-to-English translator: Capturing the voice and tone of a geisha-in-training speaking in a Kyoto dialect, and introducing and explaining geisha-specific terminology without breaking the flow of the story.
Molly’s entry stood out because she was able to express the mood and meaning of the story in a way that was accessible and enjoyable, even for readers who might not be familiar with geisha traditions. Her translations are clear and retain a conversational, natural voice that sounds appropriate for the carefree actress and the geisha-in-training who are the main characters of this story. Molly’s translation notes also provide cultural and historical context without being overly verbose. All in all, a solid effort that could easily be published tomorrow without much more additional editing.
Molly did a bang-up job rendering the text of this very challenging title into English. It wasn't simply the smoothest, most natural reading of the candidates. It was natural in spite of the difficulty of the material. This is a specialized sort of title filled with tricky concepts, from the intricacies of geisha teahouses to the arcane idioms they use in their work.
That said, not everything was perfect. In spite of nailing some very tough phrases, Molly missed a few very common ones, like "zakone" (which means "sleeping packed in like sardines") and "kokoro tsuyoi" (which means "gives me courage," not "cheers me up.") But these are easy catches for a seasoned editor and simply something that needs to be brushed up. All in all, a very good job!
This story is set in postwar Kyoto, so the dialogs should be translated without using current expressions. Molly translation did that best, avoiding the use of overly-modern expressions.
She also kept the maiko's formal speaking tone well.
It was obvious Molly had done her research, but translation notes can disrupt the reading experience if readers have to stop reading the story, read the notes to understand what's going on, and then go back to reading. Readers would find it more convenient if the necessary explanations are included in the translated dialog when possible.
Congratulations on a good, yeoman’s job on the translation of this chapter. Molly’s was the only translation of this title to realize that Imatsuya was the name of an establishment and not a person’s name. I also liked how Molly added the time period to put “Showa era” in context. Overall the dialog sounded relatively natural and the story flowed as it should. Still, no translation is perfect, and I think Molly should work on characterization, and I would suggest she read her translations over to make sure she is not sticking too much to Japanese sentence and phrasing structure. But that doesn’t take away from the fact this is translation was a standout. Congratulations!