In 2005, when Polly Barton arrived on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture as a college graduate out of the University of Cambridge, a career in translation was not on her radar.

She had joined the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme and traveled to Japan to pursue her love of Japanese literature, but during her time in the international exchange program, her Japanese was mostly self-taught. It was only when she was in London two years later, while working for a small Japanese press where she was asked to translate short articles and recipes, that she realized translation might be a career path for her.

Although at first she “looked up every other word,” she became hooked.