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Yano Tetsu

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

Pseudonym of Osamu Sakata (1923-2004), an author and translator instrumental in the dissemination of Anglophone sf in Japan. Graduating in Law from Chuō University in 1943, he was drafted into the Japanese armed forces. In post-war Japan, he famously scavenged the trash dumps of US Occupation bases, discovering in the process a lifelong love of the garish sf Magazines he found there.

In 1953 he was the first Japanese fan to make the trip to a US sf Convention. The following year, he published the first and only issue of Seiun ["Nebula"], Japan's first commercial sf magazine, which included translations of stories by Robert A Heinlein and Judith Merril. He wrote for Uchūjin from 1957, the same year he published the first issue of his own Kagaku Shōsetsu ["Science Stories"].

Yano's nonfiction included popular science, and several works on military history, including an early account of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, composed of American-born Japanese who served in the US army in Europe in World War Two. He put his military knowledge to fictional use in Chikyū 0-nen ["Earth Year Zero"] (1969), an ironic Post-Holocaust scenario in which the superpowers destroy each other, leaving the Japanese to occupy America's west coast as UN peacekeepers. Reversing Yano's own memories of the war and its aftermath, it combines elements of both Yellow Peril and Hitler Wins genres with a pacifist motive.

His best-known work abroad is the non-sf Kamui no Ken (1970), not for the untranslated original novel, but for the Anime feature based on it (1985; vt Dagger of Kamui; vt Blade of Kamui; vt Revenge of the Ninja Warrior, 1987 US). The Japanese release carefully adheres to the plot of the original, in which a patricidal, treasure-hunting outcast is one of the first Japanese to leave the homeland at the end of Japan's period of isolation in the 1860s, travelling to America and meeting Mark Twain. Among the variant English-language film versions, Dagger of Kamui is a faithful translation, Blade of Kamui risibly claims to be set "on a faraway planet", and Revenge of the Ninja Warrior loses 40 minutes from the 135-minute running time in a futile attempt to cram it into a children's video brand.

In Yano's "Miminariyama Yurai" ["Origins of Mount Miminari"] (in Sekai SF Zenshū, anth 1969 ed [not ascertained]; in Samayoeru Kishidan no Densetsu coll 1980), an odd Japanese place-name is revealed as a garbled reference to an ancient Alien visitation: the "roaring mountain" being the sound of a departing spaceship (see Linguistics). He would refine this concept lifted from Erich von Däniken in his undisputed masterwork, Origami Uchūsen no Densetsu (1978; cut trans as "Legend of the Paper Spaceship" in Chrysalis 10, anth 1983, ed Roy Torgeson), a melancholy rustic idyll whose narrator comes to realize that the nursery rhymes of the village children are half-forgotten system checklists for a rocket launch sequence.

Yano's 300+ translations have been arguably even more influential than his own fiction, as a point of entry to the Japanese market for, among others, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Martin Caidin, Edmond Hamilton, Frank Herbert, Frederik Pohl, Robert Louis Stevenson, Olaf Stapledon, Theodore Sturgeon and Wilson Tucker. But it was as the Japanese voice of Robert A Heinlein that he was most lauded. Yano openly proclaimed his debt to Heinlein, whose Starship Troopers (October-November 1959 F&SF as "Starship Soldier"; 1959) he translated into Japanese in 1967, indirectly inspiring many anime incidences of pilotable Mecha in imitation of Heinlein's "mobile infantry" battle-suits. There is also much of Heinlein to be found in Yano's seven-volume Space Opera Renpō Uchūgun ["Space Federation Fleet"] series (1990-1993), co-written with Toshiya Takahashi, and depicting the adventures of the teenage space cadet Jin (Jim) Munakata. Like Heinlein's, Yano's later reputation may have suffered from the repackaging of certain earlier juveniles in adult lists. His heartfelt eulogy to Heinlein is included in Requiem: New Collected Works and Tributes to the Grand Master (coll 1992) edited by Eric Kotani.

Yano was active in the founding of the Japan SF Writers Association (now the SFWJ) and served as its chairman 1978-1979. Late in life, he developed a passion for computing, and wrote widely on both it and on his enduring obsession, the Computer Role Playing Game Wizardry. He received the Karel Čapek award for services to translation in 1985, a Seiun Award for his essay collection Wizardry Gensōkyoku: Pasukon Bunka no Bōken ["Wizardry Fantasia: Adventures in Computer Culture"] (1987), and a special Nippon SF Taishō ("Grand Prix") award in 2004, the year of his death. [JonC]

Osamu Sakata

born Matsuyama, Japan: 5 October 1923

died 13 October 2004



Renpō Uchūgun ["Space Federation Fleet"]

Despite some English-language titles, all books are Japanese-only.

  • Network Soldier (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1990) with Toshiya Takahashi [Renpō Uchūgun: pb/]
  • Eliminator (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1991) with Toshiya Takahashi [Renpō Uchūgun: pb/]
  • Mars Dragon (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1991) with Toshiya Takahashi [Renpō Uchūgun: pb/]
  • Ninja Wakusei Terra 2 ["Ninja Planet Terra 2"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1992) with Toshiya Takahashi [Renpō Uchūgun: pb/]
  • Telepath Mamori no Wakusei ["World Guarded by Telepaths"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1992) with Toshiya Takahashi [Renpō Uchūgun: pb/]
  • Kusahara wo Yuku Hansen ["Sailboat on the Steppes"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1993) with Toshiya Takahashi [Renpō Uchūgun: pb/]
  • Sabaku no Time Machine ["Desert Time Machine"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1993) with Toshiya Takahashi [Renpō Uchūgun: pb/]

individual titles

  • Umashi-na Nazo ["Erotic Science"] (Tokyo: Amatoria-sha, 1958) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kitsunejima Hitoribotchi ["Alone on Fox Island"] (Tokyo: Kokudosha, 1969) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Ōgon Maboroshi-maru ["The Golden Wonder"] (Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1969) [binding unknown/]
  • Chikyū 0-nen ["Earth Year Zero"] (Tokyo: Rippū Shobō, 1969) [binding unknown/]
  • Kobuten Senchō no Bōken ["The Adventures of Captain Kobuten"] (Tokyo: Mainichi Shinbusha, 1970) [binding unknown/]
  • Kamui no Ken ["Blade of Kamui"] (Tokyo: Rippū Shobō, 1970) [first of five volumes: binding unknown/]
    • Kamui no Ken ["Blade of Kamui"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Bunko, 1984-1985) [published in four volumes: continuing and completing the above: pb/]
  • Momoiro no Kawa wa Nagareru ["On Flows the Peach River"] (Tokyo: Freberu-kan, 1971) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Shinsekai Yūgitai ["New Century Platoon"] (Tokyo: Tsuru Shobō, 1972) [binding unknown/]
  • Benten Suru Hakobune no Densetsu ["Legend of the Ark Ascending"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Ōjō Takaramonokura ["The Queen's Treasury"] (Tokyo: Bunka Shuppan, 1975) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Karasu no Umi ["Sea of Crows"] (Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1977) [binding unknown/]
  • Nusumareta Tokyo ["Stolen Tokyo"] (Tokyo: Sanseidō, 1977) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Yūrei Robot ["Phantom Robot"] (Tokyo: Sanseidō, 1977) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Umiwashi ["Sea Eagle"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Bunko, 1978) [pb/]
  • Origami Uchūsen no Densetsu (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1978) [binding unknown/]
    • "The Legend of the Paper Spaceship" in Chrysalis 10 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1983) edited by Roy Torgeson [anth: including cut trans of the above by Tomoko Oshiro and Gene van Troyer: hb/]
  • Saiku no wa Dare ka ["Who Shall Judge?"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1980) [coll of linked stories: binding unknown/]
  • Jigen Gentetsu Jūjidan ["Dimensional Iron Cross Platoon"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1980) [coll of linked stories: binding unknown/]
  • Saigo no Ninja ["The Last Ninja"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Bunko, 1981) [pb/]
  • Florida Nōryoku Shūryaku ["Florida Super-powered Village"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1981) [binding unknown/]
  • Akuma no Senjō ["Nightmare Battlefield"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1982) [pb/]
  • Kōtei Heika no Senjō ["The Emperor's Battlefield"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Bunko, 1983) [pb/]
  • Robot (Tokyo: Kadokawa Bunko, 1986) [pb/]
  • Tagen Uchū Battlefield ["Multiverse Battlefield" or "Battlefield in Algebraic Space"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1990) with Toshiya Takahashi [pb/]



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