Faces of Gengo: Kanako

Based in L.A., Kanako is an English to Japanese translator originally from Tokyo. When she moved to the U.S., she discovered Gengo and the advantages of freelancing. Find out why she rated being a freelance Gengo translator a perfect 10 out of 10 in this interview.

Nationality: Japanese
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Occupation: Full-time translator
Gengo translator since: June 2016
Language pair: English to Japanese

What languages do you speak?
Japanese and English

If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be and why?
Hebrew. My husband and his whole family are Jews and I’d like to join their annual memorial gatherings, such as the Passover Seder, the Hanukkah, or weddings where they read books and sing songs in Hebrew. In the past, I was always the only non-Jewish person at those gatherings and I wish I had learned the language so I could have sung with them!

Do you have experience living in other countries? If so, where?
Yes, I have been living in LA since I got married.

At Santa Monica Pier in LA, just 15 minutes away from my house. It’s a great spot where tourists and LA locals walk around the beach, enjoy some free concerts, shop, eat or just chill.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy being a translator and why?
10. It’s the best opportunity for my current situation. First of all, when I moved to the U.S., I had to leave my previous career in Tokyo and I had to find something (it could be a paid job or volunteering) to engage with the world, but driving to the office for over two hours daily would be insane. LA people usually have to do it and they complain about the traffic all the time. Working at Gengo as a translator lets me work from home, which is so great. Second, I can manage my time for both professional work and housework. If I’m not that busy translating, I can do household chores. Lastly, my husband works from home too, so if I have difficulty with some words, I could ask for a native speaker’s advice for free.

How has translating for Gengo impacted your life?
Gengo made quite a difference in my life. It’s a great work-from-home opportunity. Making money is always good.

I usually work at the den of our house. One of my cats helps me work sometimes.


When you were growing up, what did you aspire to become?
Management consultant in the corporate world. I did it for 8 years after graduating from university.

Name three of your favorite translation / language learning tools.
My electronic dictionary and editorial from newspapers in Japanese and English are my fave translation tools. EF English Live is my favorite language learning site.

Recommend three of your favorite language-related books/films.

  • 英単語のあぶない常識―翻訳名人は訳語をこう決める (ちくま新書) 新書 – 2002/7 山岡 洋一  (著) Eitango no abunai jōshiki – hon’yaku meijin wa yakugo o kōkimeru (Chikuma Shinsho) Shinsho – 2002/7, Yoichi Yamaoka
  • 翻訳の基本―原文どおりに日本語に 単行本 – 2000/8 宮脇 孝雄  (著) Honʾyaku no kihon – genbundōri ni Nihongo ni, Tankōbon – 2000/8, Takao Miyawaki
  • 実践 日本人の英語 (岩波新書) 新書 – 2013/4/20 マーク・ピーターセン (著) Jissen nihonjin no eigo (Iwanami shinsho) shinsho – 2013/4/20, Mark Petersen. This book is only available in Japanese. The author was born & raised in the U.S., but he writes a lot of best-selling books for ESL learners in Japanese, which are amazing.
My husband and I love visiting U.S. National Parks. This was taken at Yosemite National Park in California. The view was just magnificent and surreal!


What advice would you give to new or aspiring translators?
Try to be a better person every day. My husband says it so often and I believe in it, too.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Read more books! It’s gonna enhance your brain and life no matter what, yo!


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Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.


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