Abai’s Legacy About to Be Brought to Japanese Audience (Video)

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakh cultural diplomacy continues to make great strides with the 175th anniversary of Kazakh poet and philosopher Abai Kunanbayev. Japanese readers can now get a closer connection with Kazakh culture in their native language through books on Abai’s works at national libraries and educational institutions in Japan.

L-R: Akiko Santo, the Speaker of the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament, and Kazakh Ambassador to Japan Yerlan Baudarbek-Kozhatayev during the Oct. 13 book presentation of Abai Kunanbayev’s works in Japanese ceremony. Photo credit: the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Kazakh Embassy in Japan presented the Japanese translation of the book with Abai’s works during the Oct. 13 ceremony in Tokyo, the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs press service reported.

The Kazakh National Bureau of Translations translated Abai’s works into ten languages to mark the anniversary. Although Abai’s works already had translations in many languages, the Kazakh government instructed the bureau to improve the accuracy of the existing translations and make it available in more languages. The bureau collaborated with leading linguistic institutions and the best linguistic experts. 

To ensure the accuracy of the Japanese translation, the bureau used help in literary translation from experts at the Tokyo University of Foreign Languages, including Professor Hiroki Sakai, Kazakh literature researcher Mikiya Nishimura, and Japanese-Kazakh dictionary translator and compiler Shigenobu Masujima.

Photo credit: the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The relevance of Abai’s philosophy is greater than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Akiko Santo, the Speaker of the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament, stressed that Abai’s philosophy teaches wisdom and courage, which are both necessary to overcome all the hardships that humanity faces today, including the coronavirus pandemic.

Japanese Cultural Agency Chair Ryohei Miyata noted that Abai’s poems are quite similar to the oldest collection of Japanese poems known as the “Manyoshu.” 


Famous Japanese singer Ranka also gave a live performance of Abai’s song “Kozimnin Karasy (The apple of my eye)” in Japanese, the video of which was well received by Kazakh audiences in July.

This book presentation event is only a small part of a bigger cultural campaign dedicated to Abai’s anniversary. Kazakh embassies all around the world have been commemorating Abai through concerts, online challenges, poetry marathons, monuments, among other events. According to Kazakh Ambassador to Japan Yerlan Baudarbek-Kozhatayev, all of these events have made a special contribution to the development of Kazakh cultural diplomacy.


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