LFJ Business Member Spotlight: McIsiah Kendema

Posted On November 4, 2021

Legacy Foundation Japan supports its business members’ endeavors no matter what stage they are in. Our members work in multiple industries both in Japan and abroad.

Meet Business Member McIsiah Kendema. He is the founder of Borderless Translations, a translation and localization company specializing in creative writing and digital content. They translate into English, Japanese, and Spanish.

Where are you located? 

I am located in Kawasaki, Japan. I live about 20mins away from central Tokyo.

What attracted you to Legacy Foundation Japan?

When George Floyd died, it happened in my hometown of Minneapolis. It was painful to watch my family and friends put in danger, the places I would often visit were burning down, and I was stuck here in Japan, unable to do anything. I felt a need for fellowship within the Black community here in Japan, and I made a call to gather on a Facebook group called Black in Japan. The group is for those in the African diaspora based in Japan. As it turns out, I was not the only one feeling this way, and one of the people who reached out to me was Alison Rodgers, Director of Membership. It was through her that I got introduced to the Legacy Foundation Japan. 

What is your connection to Japan? 

I have always been interested in Japanese pop cultures such as anime, manga, and video games. Coming home after school, watching Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, and Gundam Wing, and playing and collecting Yugioh cards with my friends were the highlights of my childhood.

My favorite game company is Square Enix, and my favorite game is Final Fantasy IX. I knew I wanted to work in games and eventually come to Japan. I have worked at several companies within the gaming industry like Activision Publishing, as a Technical requirements tester, and then at Native X, as a Business Development Consultant, which lead to a 3-month stay in Japan. Once I received that first taste of Japan, I was hooked.

Tell us about your business.

So, my business is called Borderless Translations. I wanted a company that could address the needs of all communities while taking down the barriers that cause “lost in translation syndrome”. 

Borderless Translations is open to all kinds of requests, but our main clients have been those in the entertainment industry. Our two largest projects so far have been translating a TV pilot from Japanese to English and preparing additional documentation such as the story synopsis and pitch deck. Our client is aiming to pitch to Netflix this year, so fingers crossed.

Our second project was translating a website, Playaz4Playaz or P4P designed by Legacy Foundation Japan member Houston Ross. P4P connects athletes and their fans through photo diaries and live streams, providing them personal behind-the-scenes access.

What inspired you to go into this industry?

I was a freelancer looking for work, and one of my translator friends suggested that I start my own company. They said I was a real people person. I decided to visit the economic support center in my ward afterward, and they helped me with the registration process. They even waived the application fee for me. It’s been 順調 (smooth sailing).

I’m aiming to use the money generated by the business to pursue and fund some of my creative projects such as video game development and scriptwriting.

Do you have any advice for people entering into your industry?

Listen to those friends that encourage and push you to be better. You only need one client to start things off. Don’t neglect to polish your language skills daily, even when you don’t have work. Reading books is not enough, you need to talk and meet new people. You need to understand the culture that lies beneath the language. I’m also free to answer any questions, or if you are interested in working with me, let me know.

Written by Alison Rodgers

Alison moved to Japan in 2004. She is an entrepreneur, inventor, educator, connector and personal cheerleader. She credits her success in life to being reared with strong African-American values: family, community, self-empowerment, and progress. Prior to Japan, she worked in advertising on domestic and international projects. Alison is a native North Carolinian and proud graduate of the illustrious Spelman College. Always a Spelmanite, she is dedicated to making a positive impact on society.

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