• Kyodo


“Hadashi no Gen” (“Barefoot Gen”), a well-known Japanese comic book series about a boy who survived the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, has been entirely translated into English for publication shortly in the United States.

The 10-volume saga, portraying the life of a boy named Gen before and after the horrific explosion in 1945, was translated by a group of mainly housewives in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.

San Francisco-based Last Gasp will publish the first two volumes by Aug. 6, the 59th anniversary of the bombing, said Namie Asazuma, who heads the Project Gen group in the city. “I hope people around the world read this and share with others the suffering caused by nuclear weapons,” she said.

Asazuma, 61, said she started translating the saga 10 years ago after realizing not many people outside Japan are familiar with the damage nuclear weapons can inflict.

This time, Asazuma’s group, which published a Russian version of the “manga” comic series in 2001, spent about four years to complete the English translation, she said.

“Seeing that Gen didn’t lose his sense of humor even in a dire situation, I could not stop crying while I was doing the translation,” said Kiyoko Nishita, 52, who was part of the group.

“Barefoot Gen,” a semiautobiographical story of cartoonist Keiji Nakazawa, was originally serialized in comic magazines for about 11 years in the 1970s and 1980s. Japanese publisher Chobunsha has sold more than 6 million copies in the form of comic books.

The first four volumes of the saga, covering the period immediately before and after the bombing, and translated by a different Japanese group, have been printed in the United States in the past.

Volumes five to 10, focusing on the boy’s life later in the devastated Hiroshima, will be published in the United States for the first time, Asazuma said.

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