April 23 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the greatest dramatist of the English speaking world. The anniversary has a particular resonance here: Few countries in the world have embraced Shakespeare with Japan’s sustained passion.

The great literary theorist Shoyo Tsubouchi (1859-1935) made the first translation of the complete works of Shakespeare between 1909 and 1928, and since then a cascade of new translations have poured forth from the pens of eminent Japanese scholars, translators and writers. The greatest problem facing anyone wishing to read the Bard in Japanese is choosing from so many accomplished translations, including translations into the speaking style of kabuki or the Tohoku dialect.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.