Shogo Oketani was born in Shinagawa ward, Tokyo, Japan in 1958. His great-grandmother was a geisha, and his great-grandfather was a gambler.  His father is the respected literary critic Oketani Hideaki.

Oketani graduated from Keio University with a degree in Philosophy and Literature. After graduation he spent over a decade (1986-1996) as a staff writer for The Sangyo Times, Japan’s semiconductor industry news.  Then he moved to Northern California, where he was a freelance technical translator for clients such as Lucasfilm, Applied Materials, Hitachi, Apple, Nikkei News, Eastman Kodak, iFire Technologies, The Mori Group, LAM Research, and many others.  He was also Project Director for Looksmart and served as  Adjunct Professor of Translation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Shogo has received the 2003 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature from the Donald Keene Center of Columbia University, as well as a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in Translation, together with his wife, Leza Lowitz.

After 9 years in California, Oketani relocated to Tokyo in 2003, where he opened Sun and Moon Yoga in Tokyo with his wife, Leza Lowitz. A black belt in Karate and a long-term practitioner of Shaolinquan, Kendo and Judo, Oketani teaches self-defense workshops at Sun and Moon and at various corporations in Tokyo.  He also periodically teaches cooking classes. He and Lowitz have a son.

Oketani works at Dobunsha Publishers, editing college textbooks in the fields of nutrition, bio-technology and food science. In his spare time, he writes fiction and publishes literary translation. He is at work on an historical novel about a revolutionary samurai in medieval Japan.

Other Books by Shogo Oketani
Winner, APALA Award in Young Adult Literature, 2014 from the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association
Published in October, 2013 from Tuttle. 

Find out how the last living female ninja helps the Emishi-- Japan's indigenous Northern Tribes - and the Navajo join forces to save a sacred mountain and an ancient tribe from destruction.

Available now for Pre-Order on amazon.com

Jet Black and the Ninja Wind has been optioned for feature film production.

Our debut Young Adult novel Jet Black and the Ninja Wind, is up on Simon & Schuster's Carousel. 

It's about a female ninja, but it's really about Japan's indigenous Emishi tribes and their fight to save their land. 
The Navajo Code Talkers also play an important role. 

The two tribes come together to save an ancient treasure and keep the past alive, with lots of spin-kicking ninja adventure along the way. 
Dog-lovers Bonus: a ninja Akita helps save the day. (Scroll down to read all the blurbs)

Jet Black and the Ninja Wind Book Trailer is live on Youtube. Directed by Chris Mauch (storyboard artist for DIVERGENT), CJ Gardella (Director of Shunka), and
their crackerjack ninja team. Watch it here, and let the wind blow!

America and Other Poems by Ayukawa Nobuo with Leza Lowitz
(Kaya Press, 2007). Winner: 2003 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, Donald Keene Center, Columbia University, 2003. 


America and Other Poems by Japanese modernist poet Nobuo Ayukawa marks the first time this seminal work has been translated into a single volume in English. This landmark selection spans three decades from 1947-1976, ranging from Ayukawa's early work about his war experience on the front lines to later poems in which the influence of Western culture on Japanese society can be clearly felt. His lyrical, complex poetry offers a rare perspective on the modern Asian war experience from an ordinary soldier's point of view, and a unique window into the complex post-war relationship between Japan and America. This award-winning translation also features an essay by Ayukawa on his seminal poem “America,” as well as essays contextualizing Ayukawa and his work by Shogo Oketani.

Praise for America & Other Poems:

"... His unflinching resistance to the hypocrisy of many of his fellow poets set him outside the mainstream of Japanese culture as it rebuilt itself out of the ashes of defeat." -- Hillel Wright, Metropolis

“You might read Nobuo to see what war did to him. You might read him because he’s a major poet whose work, still gathering force behind him, speaks directly to Americans in this dismal, blood-spattered moment of our own history.” 
— Forrest Gander, Brown University 

"It is this voice, telling it as it is in the wilderness, that must be captured in any reading and in any translation. And this is just what the Oketani/Leza Lowitz translation does." -- Donald Richie, The Japan Times

To order click here

Designing with Kanji: Character Motifs for Surface, Skin and Spirit with Leza Lowitz 
(Stone Bridge Press, 2005). 130 Japanese ideograms for artists and graphic designers, perfect for Tattoo artsts and dreamers. 


Japanese kanji characters are full of meaning and beauty. But if you don’t speak or read Japanese, how do you find characters that say what you want and are not just a “kanji cliche?” Pick from The Way of the Warrior, The Way of the Heart, The Way of Nature, The Way of the Spirit to find the characters that express your sentiments best.  Then adapt the clear letterforms to get just the effect you want. 

Praise for Designing with Kanji:

“Designing with Kanji is an essential tool for any designer or tattoo artist. It is an accurate and inspirational guide for everyone interested in ingetrating these characters into their life.”--Ed Hardy, Tattoo Artist

Not only new words but whole new worlds are revealed, creative worlds where reading is pure seeing, worlds where deep meaning takes place in the spaces in between essential common things. Indispensable. An utter enjoyment.”--Gary Gach, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Buddhism

“An invaluable resource for tatooers, artists, and anyone interested in better understanding kanji.”--Hirotaka, Tattoer, author of Bushido: Legacies of the Japanese Tattoo

“Stop! Don’t get that tattoo until you’ve read this marvelous book!” --Barry Eisler, author of Rain Fall

To order click here

Book Translations from English to Japanese: 

Shogo Oketani’s Translation of Lama Christie McNally’s The Tibetan Book of Meditation (Doubleday, 2008), published by Shunjusha, Tokyo, September 2010.

Ayukawa Nobuo’s America & Other Poems
Web Developer's Guide to Multimedia & Video by Nels Johnson, published by SPIKE Publishers, Tokyo, 2000.

Web Developer's Guide to JavaScript & VB Script by Peter Aitken, published by SPIKE Publishers, Tokyo, 2000.

Oketani’s Essay, Some Thoughts on Translation, appeared in Manoa and was later in The Poem Behind the Poem: Translating Asian Poetry, (Copper Canyon Press, 2002). Oketani’s translations of Ayukawa and postwar Decadent novelist Ango Sakaguchi have appeared in Manoa, Two Lines, Another Chicago Magazine, Perihilion, Yomimono, Generator, Five Fingers Review, Convulvulus, Out of Line, Poetry Kanto, The Poetry of Men’s Lives, and  W. W. Norton’s Language for A New Century, among others. 

Short stories from J-Boys have appeared in print as follows: “The Tofu Master” (translated by Shogo Oketani and Leza Lowitz) was published in Wingspan, 2005, “A Day and A Half of Freedom” (translated by Ralph McCarthy) was published in Kyoto Journal, 2007,  and “Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories from the New Asia-Pacific”,  “A Farewell in the Snow” (translated by Avery Fischer Udagawa) appeared in Yominono.

Excerpts from Shogo and Leza Lowitz's novel-in-progress, Jet Black and the Ninja Wind, have appeared in Wingspan (All Nippon Airlines in-flight magazine) and The Dickens, and most recently in Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction--An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories (Stone Bridge Press), and My Postwar Life (Chicago Quarterly Review). Portions of the novel received the Dickens Award in Fiction from Copperfield’s Books of Northern California, and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation. 
Oketani has spoken about modern Japanese literature on panels at the AWP (Associated Writing Programs) and ALTA (American Literary Translators) conferences.  He is a member of the Tokyo chapter of SCBWI.