Mr. Sakurai on Gender, Cayce on Translation

Happy Friday! We really shouldn't be doing this, because we're almost certainly too busy with other commitments, but we just couldn't resist. Over on Not Greatest Site, we're pleased to present our first addition to the Translated Articles section in quite a while: Ongaku to Hito's interview with Sakurai Atsushi on Buck-Tick's forthcoming album, No. 0

The honest truth: since becoming a professional translator, we haven't often had the time to translate long interviews like this for fun (time is money!), but we made an exception for this one because it's such a good one, delving into such meaty topics as gender fluidity, the creative process, and the role of the artist. If you're the kind of person who just looooooves to talk about your gender on the internet, this one's for you! Russian fangirl fans of Macho Man Acchan, take careful notes, please! In fact, if one of our Russian readers wants to take a stab at translating this one into Russian, please do so, by all means. If we can help to bust a few delusional fangirl misconceptions in favor of a nuanced talk about artistic expression and the challenge of being yourself, we'll consider it a three hours well wasted.

As for well wasted, just for reference, if we'd done this one for a client at our usual rates instead of for free for y'all because we love you, we'd have sent that client a bill for something in the neighborhood of 37,000 yen (Yikes! Does that surprise you?) Perhaps it's unsavory to talk about money, but we thought we'd mention it this time, for several reasons. 

First, there seems to be a pervasive twin notion that 1) translation doesn't cost much and 2) translation is not a viable career path. In fact, since translation requires highly specialized skills that take years of practice to hone, there's often more work out there than there are translators, and this is especially true for a language pair like Japanese and English, where there are comparatively few people who are bilingual in both and each is hard for native speakers of the other to learn. When there's more work than people who can do that work, rates go up, and believe me, this is a good thing. Nowhere in the world does the axiom "garbage in, garbage out" apply so well as it does to translation! Companies that try to save money on translation invariably end up saddled with poorly proofread ungrammatical gobbledygook, which definitely does not reflect well on the company's business. If you, as a business person, want a good translation, it is in your best interest to hire a qualified translator and pay them what they are worth. If you, as a reader of this blog, are considering pursuing a career in translation, we're here to tell you that it can be quite lucrative if you develop yourself to a sufficient skill level, especially if you work in an unusual language pair. If you're a translator of Japanese and you think the rate quoted above looks high, you're working for chump change and you should raise your rates. Don't work for chump change. By doing so, you devalue the work of everyone in our industry.

Second, since translation is our livelihood and time is money, we have to prioritize the time we spend working for paying clients, but recently some readers have suggested that we set up a Patreon, whereby readers can donate to get more content. NGS/Blog-Tick will always be a project for love, not money, but if y'all actually want to donate to us to keep us going, who are we to refuse? So please, let us know in the comments if you think it's a good idea or if you definitely won't donate to us because we're a gang of snarky, elitist bitches, in which case we will continue to work for your ungrateful little asses for free in our spare time as we have been for the past 12 years :)

Third, we've received a number of questions over the years about how to pursue a career as a translator, and we're well aware that there is little reliable information out there about translation as a career, having beaten the translator's career path in the dark for ourselves for many a year now. Therefore, we've been toying with the idea of writing a "So You Want to be a Translator" overview article for aspiring translators - who's interested? Let us know in the comments! The translation industry is highly international and very much internet-based, so most advice regarding Japanese-English translation applies to other language pairs, as well. We know that Blog-Tick counts a number of professional translators among its readers, and we invite you to contribute your opinions.


  1. THIS ! I’m so happy about this translation ! Gender is one of my fav topics! And yes I think we should talk about it, specially because I had read over the years a lot of misconception comments about the image that Sakurai projects. I’m going right now to read te interview in NGS ! Thank you as always Cayce ! We don’t deserve you.

    P.S. I think the Patreon thing is a great idea!

  2. Thank you so much for the translation, this was a fantastic interview and I'm glad to see these topics spoken about.

    As someone who will be moving to Japan soon to pursue learning the language, it would be wonderful to read your takes on translation as a career path!

  3. Gender is such an interesting topic to talk about. I took a class names "Gender and Literature" while I was studying in the States, and we had to write papers about different texts (poetry, fiction and drama) that showcased gender in different aspects like race, culture, class, etc.. The book we mainly worked with is called (in case anyone is interested in reading it) "Literature and Gender" by Robyn Wiegman and Elena Glasberg. I also wrote my last paper about the book (please read this one if you have a change to) "Written on the Body" by Jeanette Winterson (it became one of my favorite books after that).

    In relation with Sakurai and gender fluidity, we've been seeing this since the early years, and people who refuse to accept this are blind (because they can't see it nor they can read it). I believe it's ok to have your opinion on something, but don't go saying that Mr. Sakurai is a Macho Man because he isn't, I mean, he should be part of the LGBT+ flag. He expresses and accepts himself in a way that's healthy (I'm not talking about mental health+Sakurai in here, that's for another topic), and it would be great for all of us to follow him in this path.
    Now to No.0... I'm too excited to express it in words, and now I'm more excited because there's that little "listen this one after this one and you'll get sth else" hint that Mr.Sakurai dropped.
    Loved the interview, love the answers, love the translation. Thank you so much for doing all this for us.

  4. Thank you for the translation Cayce, this probably made my week :) I believe Sakurai-san expressed gender fluidity back in his long hair days, but recently it gets even better! That super strong mermaid he poses at this age is my favorite, definitely entertaining!! I'm glad he's enjoying Buck-Tick projects as entertainment now, thanks to the Mortal ;)

  5. Thank you so so much, Cayce, for that wonderful translation of that wonderful interview! And I'm of the opinion that Mr. Sakurai expressed gender fluidity for a long time and it's even better now, I think, for looking so masculine and still have an elegant and sensual female aura about him like for example in the infamous stage presence at a certain live show.
    Well, still, thank you for every review, every live show tale, every interview translation and all the great references you ever present for the albums and songs and art! All is greatly appreciated and devoured as soon as you share it.

  6. There's no question that Sakurai has always expressed gender fluidity, but as far as I know this is the first time he's talked about it overtly, so I wanted to pass on the message to the many, many overseas fangirls who seem confused by his self-presentation.

    To clarify: gender fluidity has nothing to do with long hair. People interested in trying out different gender presentations may alter the length of their hair to give a certain impression based on society's expectations, but long hair itself is not inherently masculine or feminine. Though long hair has been held up as a sign of femininity in most cultures for most of history, it has also been adopted as a symbol of masculinity in many cultures and subcultures - Native American cultures, Sikh culture (Sikhs consider hair a divine gift and neither men nor women cut their hair), Rastafarian culture, and goth, hippie, and heavy metal subcultures, to name a few.

  7. Thank you for the translation, Cayce! This is one of the best interviews Mr. Sakurai has done and it touches on so many interesting themes, so I was actually hoping you would at least mention the interview in one of your posts or reviews these days, but to see it translated, it's amazing!
    As for the article on translation, I would read the hell out of it if you had time to write it. I'm considering staying in Japan and pursuing a career as a translator, so I would love to have some facts based on experience.
    Also, Patreon would be a great idea!

  8. Thank you for sharing this article in english! I would love to be part of a Patreon to support blog-tick and your translations.

  9. Thanks for that one, I'm intrigued and thus gonna read the interview now.
    Btw, you should definitely set up a patreon. After all, it doesn't force anybody to pay, but everyone who values you and your work will get the chance to support you. Don't see why you shouldn't do it ;).
    Oh and I'd be very interested to read the article on translation!

  10. I actually laughed at the " ...what kind of interview is this, anyway?". I don't think they were expecting him to be so honest. I had read some old interviews these past days and this one is just beautiful. It was such a wonderful interview!!
    Of course, Thank you SO much for your hard work!
    The Patreon idea is perfect, I know how hard is translating (I already cry with the english-spanish pair, I don't want to think about having to translate japanese-english) so it would be amazing if we could help a little bit with your bills. After all, we fest on your hard work and many would love to buy you a beer.
    Oh, Ko-fi is another option. So we can actually buy you a coffee.

  11. We love you for your hard-work, passion and willingness to share news, interviews, enlightenment to us non-Japanese readers. The interview was a fun and interesting read!

    I would love to buy you a few rounds of awesome fruit-sake! Alcohol-content to assist the blog-content? ;)

  12. I would definitely be down for Patreon (or Ko-fi, or any other tip jar/donation type situation)! This was a wonderful interview and I would love to be able to thank you for your time!


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