The remarkable experience of a first-time conference attendee at the Japan Interpreting and Translation Forum (JITF)

09/09/2021 10:17 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

Written by 2021 Conference Scholarship recipient, Mariko Kageyama.

NOTE: Our second round of 2021 scholarships is open through 27 September 2021. Read more about our Conference and Tuition Scholarships here. 

Mariko Kageyama is a Washington Courts Registered Court Interpreter in English/Japanese and a translator in the same language pair. She is also a licensed attorney in Washington.

I am excited to share with the NOTIS community my unique experience as a first-time conference attendee at the Japan Interpreting and Translation Forum 2021 (JITF), hosted by the Japan Association of Conference Interpreters (JACI). I joined remotely from my home in Seattle during the month of August––yes, the whole month. In the years leading up to this triumphant event, starting in 2015, JACI organized one-day annual conferences in Tokyo, known then as the Japan Interpreting Forum (JIF). This changed in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But the JIF has now successfully metamorphosed into JITF: a month-long online festival for Japanese language professionals, attracting interpreters, translators, and linguists of diverse backgrounds and skill levels.

The registration fee for non-JACI members like myself was JPY 9,800 (about USD 90). This included full access to 40 live and recorded presentations delivered via Zoom by more than 40 leading language professionals. These sessions took place from August 1st to the 31st, one session per weekday and two on Saturdays and Sundays. While Japan is 16 hours ahead of the Pacific Time, I do not think it seriously disadvantaged overseas participants because video recordings for all segments were posted within the day and remained available until the end of September. I regret not attending the live, open-networking sessions to meet new people, but I was not disciplined enough to stay up till 2 am! 

On a side note, I made a small volunteer contribution to the JITF 2021 by creating and sharing a data file containing the entire event schedule––including daily entries for lecture titles and Zoom links––for an easy, one-click Google Calendar import, which was wildly popular and greatly appreciated by other attendees.

The sessions were moderated, ran an average of 1.5 hours, and included plenty of time for interactive Q&As. I watched all of them, meaning that I immersed myself in more than 60 hours of rich educational content! They covered a wide variety of practical and theoretical topics, including Oscar Wilde grammars, subtitling Japanese indie films, translating German and Italian operas, voice training, language service company startups, Brexit, linguistic biases, how to properly charge for remote interpreting, the history of wartime interpreters, and so forth. One thing in particular that caught my attention was a lecture on the present situation surrounding legal interpreters who work for Japanese courts and immigration offices. I was shocked to learn that Japan has no formal laws addressing court interpreters and their services!

JITF 2021 effectively mobilized various social media outlets, ranging from the hashtag #JITF2021 campaign to a closed Facebook Group for posting speakers’ bios; facilitating pre-talk surveys and follow-up Q&As; and (with speakers’ permission) sharing lecture slides, web links and reference materials. I fully enjoyed JITF 2021––a huge success with over 770 registrants from all over the world! Kudos to the JACI board members and JITF2021 organizers for running a seamless conference.

Last but not least, I am tremendously grateful to NOTIS for the Conference Scholarship, which made it possible for me to gain valuable experience at professional meetings of my choice and advance my knowledge and skills as a Japanese interpreter and translator during this challenging time. Thank you very much!


  • 09/15/2021 09:45 | Tomoko Clymer
    Ms. Kageyama,

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience at JITF 2021. I did not know much about the organization, but it sounds like very informative, educational and fulfilled leaning opportunity.
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