“We even invented new words”

It took Toshiyasu Matsuoka just four months to translate the five hundred pages of the Catechism into Japanese. Others need far longer to just read the book. He just presented the first copy to the Chief Apostle.

Did you ever think of giving up while working on it? Brother Matsuoka vigorously rejects any such thoughts, “Never!” He says that he had a lot of support from brothers and sisters, for instance with the proofreading. And anyway: “I love this work!”

He is a member of the Tama City congregation in Tokyo, a congregation with about a hundred members. Chief Apostle Schneider visited the congregation on his recent trip to Japan. During a get-together on Sunday afternoon Brother Matsuoka presented the first copy of the Catechism in Japanese to him. “It was a special moment.”

Sometimes there is just no word for it

Toshiyasu Matsuoka has been translating for the Church from English to Japanese for many years. The Japanese writing system does not make things any easier: it is a combination of Chinese characters—called Kanji—and Hiragana and Katakana, two parallel modern syllabaries, which represent all the sounds of the Japanese language. And sometimes there is just no equivalent for an English word or phrase. “Or when the three Persons of the trinity are mentioned. There is a proper Japanese word for this, but this word is so difficult that a lot of people don’t even know it. So it was necessary to explain this word in plain Japanese.”

And in other instances the translator even used Chinese because it is closely related to the Japanese language. “Sometimes,” he says, “we even invented new words, because there is just no suitable word. And sometimes we added an explanation to explain a concept.”

Finding time over the last thirty years

As complex as the science of translation is, the 51-year-old teacher really enjoys translating. He was asked in 1983 to help with a translation, and ever since then he has been doing this work. He was involved with the translation of The History of the Kingdom of God, the Our Family, and texts for the District Church of Canada.

He translates in his spare time. His teaching profession still dominates his day-to-day life. “But I always managed to find time to get involved in this work,” Toshiyasu Matsuoka explains. This is his experience over the last three decades.

Baptized by his English teacher

Toshiyasu Matsuoka, who was born to Buddhist parents, was baptized at the age of 14 by his Priest—who was at the same time his English teacher at school. Toshiyasu went to university and became a teacher. He teaches at the junior and senior high school level.

His language skills are a real benefit and allow him to work on such special projects as the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church, which he translated into Japanese. This way he made our Church doctrine available to his brothers and sisters.

For his fellow countrymen and his brothers and sisters

The Catechism of the New Apostolic Church Church was published in 2012, and in 2015 it was published in a question-and-answer format. Is he going to translate this as well, nac.today wanted to know. “The translation of Questions and Answers into Japanese has already been finished,” the translator says. “Japanese-speaking ministers are proofreading it right now. After that we will think about how we are going to distribute it to the members and those who are interested in the New Apostolic Church.” There are many people in the country who are interested in religion.

NAC Japan: Brother Toshiyasu Matsuoka, Shepherd Wolfgang Ade, and Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider on Sunday, 22 May 2016 Tokyo

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