“Japan Newspaper” was the only printed matter in Japanese in the gulag. In German, there were regular publications named “Noue Zeit (New Period)” and “Noue Wert (New World).” They were the equivalent of Russian publications of “ “Noboe Puremiya” and “Noboe Meer (Mup in Russian)”
In “Noue Wert,” there was a German translations of new Russian novels. Out of them, I worked on the Japanese translation of “Twenty People in the Wall Street” and “Toh-Ten-Koh.” I wrote the translation in tiny Japanese in a notebook, and it went around among the comrades in the gulag, and never came back to me.
The title, “Toh-Ten-Koh” is my own translation of “Morgen•Roth” matching the meaning in the Chinese characters. but when I went back to Japan, I found out there were Chinese restaurants named “Toh-Ten-Koh.”
I can not recall the content of “Toh-Ten-Koh” but I remember there were full of refreshing sensitivities in the expressions. I felt it was definitely the influence of rich history of Russian literature.
“Twenty People in the Wall Street” was an interesting documentary, which was the detailed description of the work of twenty eight bosses that dominated the wall street. It was quite interesting. It was not easy to translate German into Japanese, but I worked on it little by little. I had no deadline because I was captured, so I could spend time choosing appropriate words for the translation.
I read a lot of Russian literature during my college days, but I was not familiar with the Soviet literature except for the work of Sholokhov. That’s why some of the work I read was stimulating and refreshing. When I think back, I might have felt that way because there was nothing else to read.
When I read Russian novels, I learned that French was preferred among the aristocrats, but in the new time of Soviet, English took over—not in the way it is used in their daily life, but is taught as a second language.
In our gulag, there were wall newspapers on the bulletin board. There were columns for editorials and arts and literature. Many people enjoyed it because we were really lacking in reading materials in the gulag. I have written for the wall newspaper a couple of times. A big wrapping paper for tobacco was used for this newspaper. It wa a little yellowish color like a cardboard box, but it was strong and suitable for the wall newspaper.
For the section of Arts and Literature, there were chosen novels someone wrote, waka, haiku, and comical poetry. There were really great ones too. The content of the comical poetry reflected the unfulfilled desires of the captured-a lot of them was about food and women.