The interpreter of Marie Kondo is the anonymous hero of the phenomenon KonMari – Quartzy

To love Marie Kondo is to love her interpreter, who by the way is also called Marie.

For the past three years, the 35-year-old writer, Marie Iida, has been following the winner of the ordination guru and has helped explain the philosophy of mental ordering for English speakers around the world. Iida, who is a year older than Kondo, transmits warmth and professionalism in person and on screen. His appearance as Kondo's compbadionate partner in the Netflix series Put in order with Marie Kondo is winning the fans.

Even native Japanese speakers marvel at how Iida perfectly conveys Kondo's sometimes extravagant and long invocations and her ability to somehow reflect the floating energy of her subject without parody. "Honestly, it's amazing how well he captures all the nuances of the Japanese language," says Jay Sethi, a native Japanese speaker living in New York. "There are phrases I'll hear from Marie, and in my head I'm thinking:" There's no chance the translator can convey that in English, "but she does it almost perfectly." Kondo sounds so sweet in English as it does in Japanese. "

Self-taught, Iida learned the skills of professional interpretation by reading voraciously. "I think that in our daily conversations we usually use around 700 words, but in the interpretation you find so many abstract and obscure languages ​​that you need a very extensive vocabulary," he explained in a 2016 interview. "Understand not only the specific words, but also the context, both linguistic and cultural, is crucial in interpreting and translating. There is no better way to do it than to read. " Iida says she also practices by listening carefully to radio and television programs and translating the words in her head.

The consecutive interpretation was not exactly Iida's original ambition. She, who graduated from New York University's literature and film studies and from the American Studies master's program at Columbia University, says her heart has always been in creative writing. He has translated books for Rizzoli, Soho Press and numerous Japanese publications. He has written screenplays, movie reviews and YA fiction. His latest story, titled "Mr. Yunioshi ", is a mild corrective for the unfortunate cartoon of Mickey Rooney of an Asian archetype with dollar teeth in Breakfast at Tiffany & # 39; s.

Anne Quito / Quartz

Marie and Marie at a press event in 2018 in New York City.

Iida's initial foray into live performance occurred while working with Ethan Hawke during the promotional tour of his 2006 independent film. Hottest state in Tokyo "My first client as an interpreter was this huge Hollywood actor, which was very stressful!" recalls Iida, who worked as a translator for a Japanese film production company. "I only did it on the first day until the real interpreter arrived and just seeing her really hypnotized me."

Since then, it has established itself as an access channel for programs and publications geared towards the Japanese arts. Now based in Los Angeles, Iida has worked for institutions such as the Academy of Arts and Television Sciences, the Cannes Film Festival, HBO and the Japan Society of New York, where she met Kondo in 2016.

"[She] He has great energy and presence on stage, but he manages not to get on the speaker's stage, "says Tomomi Sekiya, director of the Japan Society's series of public talks." We are delighted to see her in Tidy, where he has a unique opportunity to share his skills with millions of viewers around the world. "

Some viewers even argue that Iida is an unrecognized hero of the KonMari franchise and deserves more attention. But in an interview with Quartz, she explains why the real joy of being an interpreter lies in disappearing in the background.

Quartz: How did you train to be an interpreter?

It was never really my intention to become a spoken interpreter. I just started studying seriously the interpretation after graduating from Columbia [in 2011]. There are so many expert interpreters in New York City and they took me under their wing. I learned in their shadow. They taught me to read voraciously in both Japanese and English.

There are so many types of interpreters: United Nations, medical or corporate interpreters. [specialists]. I tried different, but I think that due to my natural interest in art and culture, I leaned towards working with creatives and artists. I love playing for artists and creatives because there is something so idiosyncratic in the way they speak and the words they choose.

You said that you spend approximately two weeks researching each topic before working with them. How did you prepare for Marie Kondo?

I read all your books. Cathy Hirano was the original translator of those books, which I loved. I also went back and read many of his interviews. I also searched for any video of their conferences to get an idea of ​​their style and diction.

What do you write in that notebook that you always seem to take with you?

Over time, the laptop has become a safety blanket or simply a good luck charm. I always try to write keywords to refresh my memory. The fact of writing itself helps me remember what has been said. During the filming of the series, it was really impossible to write everything and use my notebook the way I do it regularly. It was such a different environment. Just holding it allowed me to be in the mentality.

Japanese society

A page from Marie Iida's notebook.

Do you try to translate Marie's words literally or do you soften some sarcastic comments, as some viewers have noticed?

I would not say that she was ever snarky. She is very respectful not only with her clients but also with her belongings. No, I do not think she's ever snarky, but she's a very funny person. It's very unexpected sometimes, like when he said that his childhood pet was an eel. Sometimes it surprises me that, simply, it came out of nowhere. He loves the little cultural details, like how he smells a bag of American garbage.

As with any interpretation, accuracy is of course paramount. From my experience on stage, I know that the tone of voice and perhaps even the facial expression can be equally important. Creatives and artists have a unique energy. I try to make sure that the character and personality are not lost in the translation. He knew that transmitting the emotional aspect is also an integral part of communicating the message. I tried very hard to concentrate not only on what he was saying, but also on his tone of voice, his gestures with his hands and his posture when talking with families. [on the show]. But, of course, it's easier said than done when we're talking and there are cameras, lights and even sound to consider.



The reflection between you and Marie is amazing. It's an effect, especially since you have the same name. Did the show's producers ask you to dress in a certain way or cut your hair in a similar way?

My husband [comic-book writer and filmmaker Dennis Liu] always says that it is interesting that we call ourselves Marie and that we have a similar height. It is a complete coincidence. In the program, I did not want to waste time trying to explain our names, so I started to present myself as "Iida", to make it more efficient.

During production, I try not to talk too much to families because I did not want it to be about me. I wanted it to be a lot about the connection between the family and Marie. That was very important to me. As an interpreter, you are doing a great job if people forget that you are there.

What I use is just a reflection of how I want to approach my role in the television program: very professional and serious. It's the same thing that I always wear when I'm playing. And the hair: Marie's hair is immaculate and beautiful. I can never do mine like that.

How would you characterize your relationship with Marie today?

During the filming of the series, I think we were really emboldened by the presence of the other. At least for me, knowing that we went to each home together really gave me value.

I remember that before leaving that black van to walk to the family home, we always said: yoroshiku onegaishimasu. It is one of those intangible Japanese expressions that cover many different emotions. Depending on the situation, it could mean anything from "good to know you too" to simply "please". But in this context, I think what we said was that we trusted each other to do our respective work and that we were counting on each other. That always puts a smile on my face when he said that, because he is very polite and made me think of our shared roots.

What is the biggest mistake about Marie Kondo and her philosophy? Does she really want us to throw away books?

It is easy to think that your method consists of how much you can throw away, but in reality the focus is on what you want to maintain in your life.

For example, I love reading and books are very important to me. I talked to Marie about that and she said, "If that's your pbadion, you should keep what you love with confidence in your home." So, yes, I think people tend to link it too much to minimalism. But your message has a lot to do with knowing who you are and what you like.

Have you done the KonMari method in your own home?

I've always been quite organized, but if you look in my drawers, the clothes are definitely bent in their method.

If it is not ordered, what are the most valuable things you have learned from Marie Kondo?

I'm relatively on the shorter side and I've always thought it was a disadvantage to work in the United States. I am sure there are some people who see it as very nice and sweet, and that is also what it is. But for me, just seeing how safe and true it is for itself is inspiring. As maybe I do not have to feel that my height hinders me. It's about how you behave, and she has a lot of poise.

I have lived in both Japan and the United States since I was very young, and sometimes I tend to focus too much on what makes people different or what can not be translated. But seeing Marie interact with so many different families, and a diverse production team, helped me realize how good it is to focus on the universal.

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