August 08, 2019

New Twelve Kingdoms novel (title)

On August 1, Shinchosha announced the title of Fuyumi Ono's new Twelve Kingdoms novel: 『白銀の墟 玄の月』 (Shirogane no Oka, Kuro no Tsuki). I have tentatively translated it, "Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon."

The furigana oka lends the kanji for "ruins" (墟) the meaning of "hill," which is difficult to incorporate without getting wordy. Based on the hiragana for the title (above), it would read, "[A] Silver Hill[s], [a] Black Moon."


As for the literal meaning, all that remains of most medieval castles in Japan are overgrown hills. Oda Nobunaga's magnificent Azuchi Castle was destroyed by fire after his assassination in 1582, leaving behind only the stone foundation.

Without the actual context, other than the Kingdom of Tai being in the midst of a civil war, these are the images the title brings to mind. Considering the northern climate of Tai, "silver" could also describe ruins covered with snow.


The Traditional Colors of Japan website assigns「玄」a web color of #3E1E00, closer to "maroon." But it also describes「玄」as a synonym for black and suggests that「玄」is less a traditional color than a metaphysical concept associated with the dark arts or the darkness before the dawn.


Metaphorically, "silver" and "black" could refer to the silver-haired Gyousou and Taiki, a rare "black kirin." Using the possessive particle no (の), "silver" and "black" can function as both adjectives and nouns in Japanese.

Attempting the equivalent in English would sound clunky. So at this juncture, the English version will lean more heavily on the dictionary meanings.

At the end of July, Shinchosha released a Twelve Kingdoms promotional video (in Japanese). The narrator is Ken'ichi Suzumura, who played Rakushun in the NHK anime series.

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Comments
# posted by Blogger Cami Vizueta
8/09/2019 3:43 AM   
Oh, I'm excited about this novel. I haven't finished reading all your translations, (right now I'm in The Shore in Twilight) but your work has been amazing. Thank you very much for the opportunity to read the novels and letting us know about this amazing news of the new book.
# posted by Blogger Zedta
8/09/2019 11:09 PM   
I am so excited and nervous at the same time! A continuation after so many years!
# posted by Blogger Panino Manino
8/13/2019 7:56 AM   
Obligatory "I still don't accept this".
# posted by Blogger Unknown
8/13/2019 8:42 AM   
I was reading the comments on Fuyumi Ono's twitter page, and it seems like the Japanese fans are interpreting "白銀" as referring to Gyousou and "玄" as referring to Taiki. I guess even if the actual color of "玄" is a dark red since it has the same pronunciation as "黒"
it still brings Taiki to mind.

Anyways, here's the comments:

そうか!白金は驍宗で玄は戴麒って事か!

白銀(白銀髪)……玄(黒髪)……うぅ

玄って題名見た瞬間に既に涙でました 玄といえばタイキでしょ!
# posted by Blogger Eugene
8/13/2019 11:50 AM   
I think this symbolic use of "silver" and "black" (functioning rather as kakekotoba) is a compelling idea. I have updated the post accordingly.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
8/26/2019 10:29 AM   
Thank you very much for keeping us updated. I'm so excited for this.
# posted by Anonymous Lims
9/02/2019 3:26 AM   
Waah! Thank you so much for keeping us updated!
Such exciting news! Can't wait to see how the story continues!
And the cover for the first two parts are awesome!
# posted by Anonymous kaminagi
9/17/2019 5:31 PM   
This is wonderful news! I'm really looking forward to these new novels (I guess I also have some catching up to do - I still haven't read some of the other books.)

I'm not fluent in Japanese and my Chinese has deteriorated greatly since elementary school, but I'm curious about 玄 (kuro).

While I know it has connotations of "black" (and it ties in with the colour being associated with Taiki, and the silver in shirogane with Gyousou), I noticed that broader translations of the character is also "mysterious." It's also the same character used in the name of 玄武 - the "Black/Mysterious Warrior" (often depicted as the Black Tortoise) from the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations. 玄武 is represents the north and winter, which Tai's location and climate respectively.
# posted by Anonymous Lehst
11/07/2019 11:16 AM   
thank you.
# posted by Blogger Eugene
2/07/2020 2:20 PM   
I've decided to translate kuro as "pitch black," which I think has more of that otherworldly aura. It also improves the prosody of the English title.
# posted by Blogger Anat
2/10/2020 11:31 AM   
I've read all your translations and can't wait till these are translated, if you are willing! Thank you so much for all your hard work this is my favorite series of all time!!