About me

I’m Peter Durfee, and this is my website. I’m a translator and editor (and a member of the board of directors) at the Nippon Communications Foundation (formerly the Japan Echo Foundation). Our main project is a website called Nippon.com, which we launched in October 2011. Until the beginning of that year we were Japan Echo Inc., a little publisher in Tokyo that until 2010 put out a magazine of the same name. (If you ever read the magazine, you may have thought we were part of the Japanese government. Actually we just sold a chunk of that publication’s print run to the Foreign Ministry, which distributed the mags to libraries and schools and embassies and who knows where else.) And actually that company still exists, and I still work there as well, as my collection of business cards will tell you; we’re involved in some contract work as that entity, which keeps it around. It’s complicated. I just sit at my desk and translate and edit and let the formalities pass me by, for the most part.

I came to Japan with my family in 1985. Dad, a teacher, landed a job at the American School in Japan. I graduated from high school there, learning a bit of the language in the process. Then I went to the University of California at Berkeley, where I ended up majoring in the same language, since I already had so many of the prerequisites out of the way. Graduation, and I was back in Japan again. From 1993 to 1996 I worked in the town of Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture. The JET Program didn’t want me since I fell afoul of some “you lived too long in this country” sort of rule, but the Nasu government wanted an English teacher who could also talk his way out of classroom trouble. That was me. I did a bit of translation for the town, too, including a small collection of local folktales. I’ve been meaning to get them online for years; one of these months, no doubt.

In 1996 I jumped ship and came to Tokyo, and I’ve been with Japan Echo ever since. In addition to the day job I do the odd freelance translation. I also teach some classes at the Science Museum and at Simul Academy, where I coordinate the J-E translation program and teach a course in government-related translation. In 2005 I did a book-length translation that got published as Dr. Noguchi’s Journey. A very interesting man; a lot of sleepless nights that year.

On the family front, I met my wife at Japan Echo and we got married in 2001. In 2007 we added a daughter to the mix, and in 2013 her little brother joined us as well.

That’s about it for me. If you want to chat with me or send me a note, those buttons at the top of the page should do the trick.

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