I signed up for the Japan Translation Federation ほんやく検定

All the best next time!

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Starts in 3 minutes.


Good luck! Enjoy!

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goshh am… am… I witnessing Leebo path to legendary… ?
how long till I could be a follower to his footstep…
(jk wish you luck with your test. Really admire your dedication to Japanese study)


Hahaha, the “Politics, Economics, Society” category passage was about Trump delaying the transfer of power to the Biden administration. It’s so helpful when it’s a topic you already know something about. The previous test from last year had a Brexit article. That’s all well and good, I have some familiarity, but I would need to spend more time looking up the specific titles of people in British government, etc. Here I already am extremely familiar with everything discussed. I feel like I’ve read the same kind of thing I’m writing dozens of times.


If we had a live-cam over @Leebo’s shoulder while he takes this exam, it would be the biggest sporting event ever.

Go Leebo! \(^-^)/


It wasn’t that exciting, but I appreciate the sentiment, lol.

I spent about 15 minutes reading the whole article, and I had finished my first draft of the translation after about an hour. It was about a 1 page article. The resulting translation was just over 400 words in English.

I then spent the remaining time proof-reading, running it through grammarly, double-checking proper nouns and making sure that I hadn’t skipped over anything.

I feel pretty good about it, but when I look at the pass-fail numbers again, it gives me doubts. The results will be available on March 22nd.


When I think about it, part of getting a passing score is probably distinguishing yourself from a machine translation. Yes, machine translations are still pretty bad, but they have gotten much better. Your challenge in that respect would be to demonstrate that you understand the subtleties and nuances of Japanese well enough to give a nuanced translation in English.

I can’t wait to hear how you do. :slight_smile:


Probably also to create the necessary distance to the original, that your English sounds natural, and not so much like a translation. My Japanese teacher, who is a professional translator, often says he puts a couple days between the initial draft and the final product, where possible, to make sure the phrasing sounds natural in the target language. This is harder to do of course in a limited time test.


Yes, that makes sense.
I don’t know any two languages well enough to translate anything. But I have read translations into English (both good and bad) enough to appreciate the complexities, paradoxes, and dilemmas involved.

I respect Leebo for taking this on and wish him great success.


And I think a big distinction between getting the top assessment (一級) versus something else (二級, still considered professional quality, or 三級, passing but below professional quality) is also how well you match the register and tone of the target language for that particular style of writing. This was a political opinion column, and so that has some specific expectations that would be immediately violated by some accurate and natural translations. Lastly, it’s obvious enough, but I doubt you can get 一級 with typos, misplaced punctuation, etc. I would think grammarly took care of that for me, but we’ll see.

Sadly, the assessment does not come with notes. You get whatever grade you get and you just have to accept that. You don’t get an explanation from them like “you forgot to include this piece of information” or something.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect 一級 without being able to look at examples of the various levels. But given that 二級 is still considered professional quality, I would of course be happy with that. I kind of doubt I could possibly fail, and 三級 would be a little disappointing I think.


This topic was such a slam dunk! I mean comma usage is always up in the air, and maybe semicolons, but otherwise I’m sure you did great if the constant Tube ads for Grammarly are to be trusted.

Sooo since we have decided that you’ve passed, will you be looking for freelance jobs or are you planning to hook up with a company?

And… now back to Kanken??


Actually, I didn’t mention it before, but I have been working with a translation company since December. It’s a small company and they send me about one very small job every week. They explicitly advertised that experience wasn’t necessary, but they also don’t guarantee you’ll get much work.

It’s not even really comparable to the exam, because it’s been things like “translate a three sentence product description within 24 hours” and whatnot. But I would like to try to get more serious jobs.

Yeah, I do think I’ll probably pick up the Kanken prep at a higher level again.

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If I ever hit my head and forget how to read japanese, I just want you to know that you’re the first person I’ll go to for private commissions for eroge translation.

Either way tho fingers crossed for the results.


I’m so honored.


Yea, having some time to think about it is always useful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat there with one sentence trying to make it sound natural, only to come up with something exponentially better the next day. Or, when doing some kind of long-form translation, changing how I word something later on and then having to go back and rejigger everything.

But I think it’s a little bit less about not sounding like a machine, and more like sounding like someone who can write well. I see so many translations that may be correct, but they are just stylistically terrible. My favorite wrong translation ever though was a baseball translation where they used the word “strike” to mean “hit the ball” apparently completely forgetting that the word strike already had a meaning in baseball that is well, the opposite.


I failed.

They don’t give any feedback other than the result (there’s no score out of some total or anything either), so there’s nothing I can comment on. As I said before, it was a topic I know inside and out, so I’m curious how what I wrote failed to meet even the “subprofessional” grade, but I’ll never know.


Whoa. That sounds like it’s much much tougher than I had envisioned…

Is the test usually aimed at Japanese natives? I can’t imagine any non-native English speaker to write a better and more natural English text than a sufficiently educated native speaker (which I assume you are). Of course a Japanese would understand the original text better with all nuances etc, but since you said you know the topic well…

Do you get any statistics? I‘d be curious to see how many participated and what the passing numbers are for each grade.


I’m sorry to hear that. Is there any service that gives feedback on practice questions or the like?

I’m quite curious to who grades it now. Sometimes I question some “professional” translations that are given by the government and Japanese companies.

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The site will eventually publish the total numbers, yeah.

It is aimed at Japanese natives, but they do have a few non-natives on the “What people who have passed have to say” page.

The things that come to mind as possibilities for why I failed.

  1. I made some boneheaded bureaucratic error somehow. Obviously, if I did this, I would have no idea what it was at this point.
  2. I made some kind of critical error that was so egregious that it didn’t matter how natural or accurate the rest of the passage was.
  3. My translations were “too loose”. That is, they were natural and factually in line with everything said, but they wandered too far from the perceived “correct” translations. I don’t really want to believe that this could be true, because I assumed accurate usage of idiomatic language would only help me. As I noted, I’m very familiar with the tone and style of a typical political opinion piece.

It’s possible the reason is something else or some combination, but yeah, would really love if it came with even a vague characterization along with the result.

I could probably find a teacher who specializes in professional translation. Not sure I will just yet.

Yeah, no idea who grades it. But it took friggin forever to get the result, so I expect a highly trained professional looks over all of them very carefully.