Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Hiroshima-Nagasaki Feature—Issue 56, August 2015)

Elizabeth Willis
Excerpts from The Naganuma Reader

In my country it snows heavily.

How many years have you been here?

It snows in Hokkaido, but not in Taiwan.

Where is your family now?

They are at the station.

Who is in this room?

You and I are.

Is this a cherry-tree?

No, it is a violet.

What is passing near the island?

They are black clouds.

What is there on a face?

There is a mouth and eyes.

Do you see with your ears?

I see with my eyes.

This is a cherry-blossom and that is a violet.

How many legs have you?

I have two legs.

Can you see the two legs?

No, I can see only one.

Is your chair high and large?

No, it is low and small.

He is slender but is a very slow walker.

I have been here three years.

What is coming out of the large chimney?

Smoke is coming out.

What is there behind your house?

There is the sea.

Are there any people in the house?

There is an old man sitting in a chair.

How many birds are flying over the sea?

Three birds are.

Who is in this boat?

Nobody is.

Is a bicycle larger than a motor-car?

A bicycle is not so large as a motor-car.

What is the meaning of your name?

I don’t know.

What is the meaning of it?

It means a red tree.

What has this girl in her hand?

She has a bag and some flowers.

The English for rosoku is candle.

What is this old woman doing?

She is smoking now.

What is the name of that person?

Three birds are flying over the sea.

Read it again.

On the left are mountains and on the right the sea.

Can you see it if you stand up?

No, I cannot see it even if I stand up.

May I open the door now?

No, don’t open it.

Is it raining now?

Smoke is coming out of the large chimney.

Old people cannot run fast.

If I have books, I can read them.

If I have hands, I can take things.

Where is your family now?

They are looking at me.

I have a bicycle but not a motor-car.

I have a pencil, but I have no pens.

There is a town on the other side of this mountain.

If I close my eyes, I can see nothing.

If it snows, it is cold.

This vase is cracked into three pieces.

This ring is made of gold.

This is the largest lake in Japan.

If I drop this glass, what will happen?

If we have chairs, we can sit down.

What have I in my left hand?

You have nothing in your left hand.

This road is narrow and inconvenient.

Although he is large, he is very weak.

Is the door of my house open?

No, it is shut.

Can you see now?

Feet are used for walking.

Ears are for hearing.

In some countries they eat horse meat.

Please make my shoes with that black leather.

Can you eat without a mouth?

There is no name written on this letter.

Do you know the meaning of this word?

If the words are easy, then I know them.

The short hand points to the hour.

The contrary of crooked is straight.

He is running with a book in his hand.

Can you walk in the street with your eyes closed?

No, I cannot. Because I cannot see anything.

Can you hear with your ears closed?

No, I cannot hear anything with my ears closed.

The opposite of dark is light.

Blind people cannot see anything.

It is dark, and since we do not have a light we cannot see anything.


The Naganuma Reader, published in various editions by UC Berkeley in the 1940s, was the primary text used to teach Japanese to American military officers and G.I.s sent to Japan during and after World War II.