How a 30-Year-Old Japanese Otaku with No Money, No Job, and No Friends Became a Romanian Author | FRIDAY DIGITAL

How a 30-Year-Old Japanese Otaku with No Money, No Job, and No Friends Became a Romanian Author

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Romanian Novelist Debuts in Romania after Learning Romanian in an Amazing Self-Taught Manner

Tetsugu Saedo is a movie nerd who rarely leaves his parents’ childhood home in Chiba, let alone Japan. He learned the Romanian language in a surprisingly self-taught way, made his debut as a novelist in Romania, and has now published an essay titled “I, a recluse who hardly leaves Chiba, became a Romanian novelist without ever having been abroad” (Yorosha). How did you come to be such a great writer again?

He says that he did not like passive learning, so he did not learn any school English. What is the ultimate Romanian language learning method that Mr. Jedong has developed? (Photo by Mayumi Abe)

A Romanian movie full of gloomy moods that helped me to purify my depressed mood.

Calling himself an introvert and overthinker, Mr. Zedong is not good at communicating with others. He became a recluse in 2015 after failing his university entrance exam, fearing radiation after the Great East Japan Earthquake, a broken heart, and a failed job search.

I have no money, no job, no friends. No self-esteem. No energy to go outside. My nerves were on the edge. (Mr. Jedong Tetsugu, hereafter referred to as “Mr. Tetsugu”)

The only thing that soothed his mind was watching movies on his computer or tablet. He was particularly addicted to films that had not been released in Japan, and while writing film reviews focusing on minor films, one day he came across a Romanian film.

One day, I came across a Romanian film. “Romania has a poverty problem,” he said, “and people are living in a state of endurance. They are almost crushed by oppression, but there is a kind of life force that overflows from the cracks. I felt a catharsis in that, and I became absorbed in the story.”

Facebook friends who rooted Romania in my daily life

I wanted to learn Romanian in order to understand Romanian culture more deeply. With this in mind, Mr. Jedong began his search for a reference book.

“Even in the language section of a large bookstore, there were only a few Romanian books in the “other” section, and only two or three books that I could use,” he said.

That’s when he turned to Facebook. First, he registered with the Romanian community, and using that as a starting point, he sent out friend requests to Romanians he thought might be of interest.

“People from Eastern Europe emigrate to many different places, so Facebook is used a lot as a way to connect with them,” he said. In fact, if you send friend requests to 4,000 people, your timeline will be full of Romanians.

Mr. Jedong’s two reference books are “Zero kara kara Rumanian” (Sanshusha) and “New Express Press Romanian” (Hakusuisha). Hakusuisha also publishes Tatar and other languages. Even I don’t understand it, I don’t know what country it is.
He writes down the words that interest him, and then writes his own thoughts alongside them. By the way, he is currently teaching himself Luxembourgish and Albanian. Will he make his debut as a writer in Luxembourg next?

Thus, as I created the Romanian metaverse and learned the language through messenger exchanges, I made friends I could call my best friends. Among the friends I made were a film director, a literary critic, and even a writer!

When a film director I was a big fan of and a female writer I had become acquainted with came to Japan, I went to Tokyo to meet them. It is hard to believe that he is a recluse.

He said, “In a normal conversation, you have to make decisions instantly, like playing catch with a ball, but I’m not like that. I’m really bad at that. But with Romanian people I’m not really good at that. I type even the shortest of sentences slowly and with a dictionary. As I developed the communication skills I should have acquired as a child through social networking, I gradually built up a sense of success. Then I thought to myself, “I shouldn’t hesitate at this point,” and I went to see him with excitement.

Meeting someone on Facebook and expanding your human resources. I think it is an amazing power of action, but “I was nervous to meet and talk with them. I get really nervous when I meet people and talk to them, but with social networking, I can really go for it once I take the first step. I feel like I’m doing my best to capture the best part of this lightness.

Having learned how to write stories through film reviews, and having also started writing novels, Mr. Jedong decided to try translating them into Romanian. He asked Raluca Naji, a female writer who had come to Japan, to read his work if she liked it.

She promised to send it to a Romanian literary magazine, and the wheels started turning. The founder of the online literary magazine, who would later become her best friend, also approached her through Facebook, and she made her debut on the Romanian literary scene. Finally, his name appeared in a locally published book titled “Romanian Literature 1990-2020” as a writer.

I really don’t know what’s going on at all,” he said. Romanians often ask me, “Why would someone from the country of Yasunari Kawabata and Yukio Mishima write in Romanian? I don’t understand. Also, Haruki Murakami gets rubbed the wrong way in every interview. People who publish their works in foreign languages are sure to be rubbed the wrong way, so I have to tell them to be prepared (laughs).

Her book presented by Ms. LaLuca. You are an expert and a specialist in Romanian cinema. I wish you success!” The message reads something like

It doesn’t bring me any income, but I’ve been able to settle my shitty life.

Mr. Jedong has made a successful debut as a writer. I thought he must be fluent in Romanian, but….

I don’t speak Romanian at all. When I met Mr. LaLuca, our conversation was actually in English. I’m a writer! I’ve given up listening and speaking.

Because I mainly communicate by writing, I rarely have a chance to hear what he has to say by ear.

He says nonchalantly, “Well, that’s not so bad,” but in fact, there is an even bigger problem. In Romania, writers cannot make a career out of it, he says.

The size of the publishing industry is the smallest in Europe. People don’t really like their own culture, so only foreign works sell. They use the money they make there to publish books on Romanian literature as if it were a charity. So all the writers have other occupations, such as designers or academics, and they publish their works as a hobby.

Then no matter how much he writes, it does not lead to income, but his comment on that is as follows.

I kind of hate money. I hate money.

Let me explain. The trouble is, Mr. Jedong hates the fact that he is paid for his work.

So, I introduce Nicaraguan films in my film reviews as if I am running away from them. I’m driven by the desire to write articles that have no medium in which to be published.”

Living in a child’s room in his parents’ house in Chiba will not end unless he likes money. For some reason, Mr. Jedong is now studying economics.

“I used to really dislike insects,” he says, “but recently I’ve started reading science books, and I’ve come to think that insects are amazing by learning about their ecology. I thought that by learning about them, I wouldn’t be so bad at them anymore, so I thought that if I mastered the study of gold, I would be less bad at them.”

So that’s where you started. It looks like he has a long way to go.

I used to feel as if I was going to be a parasite on my parents for a long time, but now that I have published this essay, I have been able to put an end to my shitty life and stand on the starting line. A friend of mine told me, “Articles and books are your business cards, so write a business card that you can be proud of. Since I was able to publish a book that can be used as a business card, I hope it will lead to work. I have been too socially inept up until now (laughs).

The essay was published with the hope that it would be helpful to others in similar circumstances. The story of how I, a hermit who hardly leaves Chiba, became a novelist in Romanian (Yorosha Publishing Co., Ltd.)

Born in Chiba Prefecture in 1992. Film buff and film writer. He has been writing film criticism since his college days, and has worked as a contributing writer for Kinema Junpo and other film magazines. Later, while living as a recluse, he became absorbed in Eastern European films. He began writing novels and poetry in Romanian, and is recognized locally as an unusual Japanese writer. During the COVID-19 crisis, he developed Crohn’s disease, an intractable disease of the intestines. Currently, while continuing to fight the disease, he is vigorously updating his essays and self-written novels on his notebook. In the field of movies, he runs an online movie magazine “Tetsu-gut guy Z-SQUAD !!!!!〉. He also runs an online movie magazine, “Tetsu-gut-jaro Z-SQUAD” .

If you want to read reviews of movies that have not yet been released in Japan, please visit [Tetsu-gut-jaro Z-SQUAD!!!!! for reviews of films that have not yet been released in Japan.

For the blog, click here.

To buy a copy of ” I, a hermit who hardly leaves Chiba, became a novelist of Romanian” (published by Yorosha), click here.

  • Interview and text Ide Chimasa Photographed by Mayumi Abe

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