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WINIFRED BIRD

writer + translator

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THE DARK STAR THAT SHINES FOR YOU ALONE

WOLF CHILDREN AME & YUKI

MIRAI

BELLE

FOX TALES

I translate Japanese nonfiction and fiction and edit translations from Japanese. I am a member of the Third Coast Translators Collective, an international community of literary translators in the Great Lakes area; a member of the Society of Editors, Writers, and Translators and coordinator of the organization’s mentoring program; longtime translator for the architecture public relations firm Neoplus610; and a winner of the 3rd JLPP International Translation Competition, for translations of texts by Ekuni Kaori and Tereda Torahiko. Below are a few of the books I’ve translated.

TRANSLATION

Winifred Bird
Paul Poynter book illustration

From bracken to butterbur to “princess” bamboo, some of Japan's most iconic foods are foraged, not grown, in its forests, fields, and coastal waters -- yet most Westerners have never heard of them. In Eating Wild Japan, I eat my way from one end of the country to the other in search of the hidden stories of Japan's wild foods, the people who pick them, and the places whose histories they've shaped.

Published by Stone Bridge Press.

Eating Wild Japan book cover

餅になる

そこらの草も

おらが世や

In this world of mine

Even humble roadside weeds

Make a pretty cake

- Kobayashi Issa (b. 1763)

Drawing of Winifrd by Paul Poynter

ABOUT

I am a writer and translator in northern Wisconsin. I grew up in San Francisco in a family of book-loving artists, dreaming of moving to the country. After studying political science at Amherst College, I moved to rural Japan, where I spent nine years writing, growing organic rice and vegetables, and absorbing a second culture. I returned to the United States in 2014 and currently live with my family on an island in Lake Michigan. Along the way I’ve reported on the environment and architecture for many national publications and translated more than 25 books from Japanese to English. I recently had the enormous pleasure of researching and writing Eating Wild Japan, which ties together three of the things I care about most: food, nature, and Japanese culture. (Drawing of me by Paul Poynter)

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"A beautiful and thoughtful exploration of the deep relationship--past and present--between people and wild plants in one of the world's richest foraging regions.”

Samuel Thayer

Incredible Wild Edibles and The Forager's Harvest

“This is a terrific book, and the only one of its kind. A fascinating and knowledgeable history, many insightful stories about the roles these plants play in people’s lives, a useful wild plant guide, and delicious recipes. You’ll want to try them all!”

Azby Brown

Author of Just Enough: Lessons in living green from traditional Japan

"Winifred Bird has penned a delightful homage to those who practice the art of bringing wild foods deliciously to table. Eating Wild Japan triggered fond memories of outings with my mother-in-law in Shikoku unearthing edible shoots and roots that her kitchen wisdom later turned into a feast."

Elizabeth Andoh

Author of Washoku and Kansha

"Not only a superbly-written and engaging read but plays an important role in spreading and preserving the knowledge of the Japanese wilderness."

Metropolis Magazine

“A charming and indispensable companion . . . Eating Wild Japan will make you reconsider the essential connections between wildlands, conservation, and food.”

Caroline Fraser

Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Fills a hole that much needed filling in the landscape of writing on Japanese food."

Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Author of Japan: The Cookbook

"A charming escape, as well as a practical guide for those who choose to explore on their own."

Story Circle Network

"Winifred Bird has created a fascinating, thought-provoking, and delightful book. A must read for anyone interested in the role of wild edibles in Japanese culture and cuisine. A scrumptious story that made me want to eat and travel with Bird as my companion."

Gina Rae La Cerva

Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food

"More than a curated guide to Japan's wild edible plants and their preparation . . . a blueprint for making our own journeys into distant foodways."

Langdon Cook

Author of Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table

“Finally, a book that can begin to answer some of my questions about different plants, how they’re consumed, and most delicious of all: a glimpse into the role they play in Japanese culture.”

Chef Alan Bergo

Author of The Forager Chef's Book of Flora

"This is a marvelous book, a book to savor. . .  infused with tantalizing stories and flavors. Instructive and wise, Eating Wild tells of foraging to inspire closer attention to the weedy, wild world around us."

Anna Tsing

Co-Editor of Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene

“I long to encounter every enchanting forest, passionate preservationist, and bracingly bitter taste Winifred Bird vividly describes. I’m grateful to learn along with her about Japan’s traditional and contemporary wild food cultures that nourish connection to the nonhuman world—to incremental changes in season and climate—and to history.”

Hannah Kirshner

Author of Water, Wood, and Wild Things

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A Book About Japanese Rugs

Recently I've been working on the translation of a book about Ako dantsu, a type of handwoven cotton rug from Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.

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Belle is Coming Soon

My translation of the novel version of Mamoru Hosoda's hit feature animation Belle will be published April 18.

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Fair Isle Nonfiction Bestseller 2022

Eating Wild Japan made the bestseller list at my gem of a local bookstore, Fair Isle Books.

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Fox Tales Published

My translation of Tomihiko Morimi's collection of spooky tales set in Kyoto was published.

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Fair Isle Books Foraging Walk and Tasting

I joined forces with Casey Dahl of Folk Tree Farm to lead a foraging walk and tasting on Washington Island.

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Stone Bridge Podcast

I joined publisher Peter Goodman on his new podcast to talk about -- what else? -- foraging in Japan.

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Seek Sustainable Japan Podcast...Again!

JJ Walsh invited me back to her podcast to talk about the translation into Japanese of Eating Wild Japan, and much more.

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Japan Times Podcast

I spoke with Oscar Boyd, host of the Japan Times "Deep Dive" podcast.

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Deep in Japan Podcast

I joined Jeff Krueger on the Deep in Japan podcast to talk about Eating Wild Japan.

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Beyond Talking Points Podcast

I spoke with Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley about Eating Wild Japan (and life in general).

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Event Announcement: Slideshow and Book Talk for SWET

Join me at 10:00 AM JST on May 23 for a slideshow and conversation with Jeanette Fukao for the Society of Writers, Editors, and...

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International Women Associates Presentation

This slideshow of photos from my travels for Eating Wild Japan can be viewed here, along with a discussion with Chicago translator Alta...

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JOURNALISM

Since 2007, I’ve reported as a freelance journalist on wildlife, agriculture, nuclear disaster, architecture, and more for a wide range of local and national publications. My journalism career has taken me throughout Japan and the United States as well as to South Korea, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. I am the recipient of a First Prize for Outstanding Feature award from the Society of Environmental Journalism Awards for Reporting on the Environment, a Fund for Environmental Journalism grant, a Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership grant, and a media fellowship at Vermont Law School. In one of my more delicious assignments, I wrote the Japan entry for The Oxford Companion to Cheese. Click on the icons below to read past articles.

BOOK

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