This novella by Hori Tatsuo (1904-1953) was published in sections between 1936 and 1938. Its primary claim to fame these days is that is is part of basis for the Studio Ghibli film, The Wind Rises. There have been several English translations in the past, but, as the Japanese text is in the public domain, I thought I should do one that is accessible online and within the creative commons for those who are interested. The text I translated from is the version hosted at Aozora Bunko.
Please contact me if you have comments, suggestions, or corrections.
The Wind Has Risen
Le vent se lève, il faut tenter de vivre.
[The wind is rising, we must try to live.]
Those summer days, in the midst of the meadow everywhere growing thick with pampas grass, you would always stand working intently on your paintings as I lay in the shade of the nearby white birch. In the evenings, you would finish up your work and come by my side, and we would gaze for a while at the horizon shrouded in the puffy clumps of distant thunderheads tinged crimson, our arms thrown around each other. And finally, from the horizon that threatened to grow dark at any moment, and almost in opposition to it, it seemed that something was waiting to be born…
On one of those days (we must have been coming up on autumn) in the afternoon, as your unfinished painting leaned on its easel, we lay sprawled in the shade of that birch and nibbled on fruits. Clouds rippled their way like sand across the sky. At that moment a wind rose up from somewhere. Above our heads, the indigo that peeked carelessly through the gaps between leaves stretched and curled. Then, at almost the same instant, a thump of something falling into the grass reached our ears. It seemed the painting and easel that we had abandoned had collapsed. You immediately made to stand, but I, irrationally, as if trying to prevent something special in this moment from slipping away, held you back at my side. You let me keep you there.
The wind has risen, now can we live?
I repeated to myself that line that had pushed its way onto my tongue, as my hand gripped your shoulder. Then at last you shook yourself free of me and stood. While I held you, the canvas had gotten blades of grass stuck all over in its wet paint. As you placed the painting on the easel again and began painstakingly removing the grass with a palette knife, you said,
“Oh, if only father could see this place!”
You turned to me and gave a vague smile.
“Father will be here in two or three days.”
You sprung that upon me one morning as we strolled through the woods. Somewhat discontent, I grew quiet. Then, looking towards me, you said in a voice slightly hoarse,
“When that happens, we can’t be strolling like this anymore, you know.”
“Any stroll, if we want to, we can.”
My disappointment still visible, I felt your gaze hover anxiously above me, but it seemed more so that you were distracted by the wordless rustling in the tree branches above our heads.
“Father doesn’t leave me on my own.”
I finally looked back at you in frustration.
“So you’re saying we have to separate.”
“What choice do we have?”
So saying, as though you had truly given up on the matter, you showed me your best attempt at a smile. Ah, the color of your skin in that instant, the color of your lips even, grew paler!
“Why have you changed so much? It seemed like you used to trust me in everything…” I said, exhausted at the mere thought, and let you walk a little ahead of me on the narrow mountain path crisscrossed by bare roots, and did my best to pick my way through behind. The trees in that place were quite dense, and the atmosphere seemed to chill. Here and there small bogs pushed their way onto our path. Suddenly, an idea flashed into my head. Just as you had been so obedient to me, a stranger you had only by chance met this summer, no, even more than that, would you not meekly submit yourself to those who ceaselessly controlled everything about you, whose number included your very father? … “Setsuko! If you are really like that, then I love you all the more. When I establish myself with more stability, then, no matter what, I will ask for your hand, and until then, it is best that you remain as you are now under your father.” While I said these words to no one but myself, I quickly took your hand as if seeking your consent. And you let your hand be taken by me. Then, as we stopped before one of the pools, our hands linked, saying not a word, the light of the sun at last struggled its way through the gaps in the interwoven branches of the low shrubs down to the ferns at the very bottom of the small marsh that ate deeply into the ground at our feet.
THIS TRANSLATION IS IN PROGRESS, AND FOR NOW ENDS HERE, UNFORTUNATELY.