あん 👵🏻 - Week 2 (Intermediate Book Club)

あん :older_woman:t2: Week 2

Week 2 1st of July 2023
Start Page 15
End Page 25
Chapters 3 and 4
Pages 11
Previous week Week 1
Next week Week 3
Home Thread あん


あん Vocabulary Sheet

Please read the guidelines on the first page before adding any words.

Discussion Guidelines

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Spoiler Courtesy

Please follow these rules to avoid inadvertent ネタバレ. If you’re unsure whether something should have a spoiler tag, err on the side of using one.

  1. Any potential spoiler for the current week’s reading need only be covered by a spoiler tag. Predictions and conjecture made by somebody who has not read ahead still falls into this category.
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Proper Nouns

Feel free to add to this as new characters / places get introduced throughout the book.

Name Reading Notes
辻井千太郎 つじいせんたろう Main character
吉井徳江 よしいとくえ Main character


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Since we learn in ch 4 that Sentarou’s surname is 辻井(つじい), can that be added to his entry in the proper nouns table?


I updated it; will also update it later in the main thread :slight_smile:


I quite liked chapter 3. There’s something peaceful about the writing or the scene setting that just makes this a pleasure to read. I liked that we got some insight into his childhood which I don’t feel isn’t really touched on in the movie. I don’t remember this scene either, just the part where he throws the an-paste away and reconsiders it, but you aren’t told explicitly why.

Also, chapter 3 answered my first discussion question in the week 1 thread. Did you catch it?

I’ll post another set of questions in hopes it benefits someone:

Chapter 3 Discussion Questions
  1. Sentaro specifically states what holds him back from acknowledging Tokue, even going so far as throwing her handmade an-paste sample away initially. What is this reason and how do you feel about his reasoning (vs another reason such as her being too old)?

  2. Seeing Sentaro recall his childhood and weigh his options of hiring Tokue or not, how do you feel about his character so far? Is he likable? Is there potential for change? Or is he a manipulative character?


I also enjoyed the insights that we got from his past in chapter 3, and I’m curious to see how the next feel chapters will unfold. I also like how every chapter is relatively short and focuses on a specific scene, which gives it a kind of intimate, cosy feel to it. Interestingly, I do remember the scene where he throw the paste away from the time I read the book in english, but the flashbacks from his childhood I didn’t remember as much.

Chapter 3 Discussion Questions

Sentaro really doesn’t feel likeable in the beginning, does he? Maybe because of the type of job he does, which doesn’t seem to be what he’d rather be doing… he does the work mechanically but without an ounce of passion, which is why he cuts corners on things such as the making of the an-paste (as shown in chapter 2). I believe that, deep down, he is a bit ashamed of the way he works, which motivates the decision to throw the handmade paste away initially. But it is this same shame that makes him go back and taste it. I think these emotions are hiding the fact that maybe he just wants someone to reach out to him and help him, which I believe he may find in Tokue. So hopefully, room for character growth!


I think you’ve captured the feeling perfectly! That’s exactly how I feel about the readings so far.

Reply in regards to the discussion question response

It’s interesting you interpreted that way because I saw it a bit different. He seemed completely disinterested in his job (he wanted to be writer, yeah?) and that’s why he wasn’t willing to spare Tokue a second thought when he was sober at the time.

But maybe deep down he was looking for a little human companionship as you suggested (and what he seems to be pondering in his relaxed, intoxicated state), and her age kept reminding him of his long deceased mother and the idea just nagged at him until he decided that he owed it to the elderly to at least respectfully take a taste. And that’s what brought back the childhood memories and his love (or his father’s or his mother’s?) love of sweets.

So when the sake relaxed him, all these factors kind of ganged up on him, and he started to reconsider her offer. And even worried that she might even take it back because he can recognize the value of what she can produce but holds reservations from completely accepting her because of her deformed finger.


It was his mother. She seemed… unstable? (though he did describe her as such: having a 不安定な胸 in opposition to her 穏やかな言葉) And possibly abusive? But Sentarou could appease her with sweets, and he loved her when she was calm and would praise him for making delicious sweets despite fearing her when she got in one of her moods. (What we learn of her here reminds me of my mother, and, lol. I don’t like her at all. Either my mother or his mother.)

(I wonder if it’s just my own mother coloring my impression, but anyone else feel like 親戚の者と言い争いをして泣いたり喚いたりする those were (or were often) just crocodile tears and/or her playing the victim rather than genuine? Like getting into (and even starting) fights and then resorting to tears to get her way if she feels other things wouldn’t work.)


I’ve only read ch 3 so far. I interpreted this differently. I’ll probably reread it after.

My interpretation was:

His mother was anxious because the father (who he hadn’t seen in 10y, presumably since his mother’s death) was abusive.

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The way I understood it was..

In that paragraph, the only mention of the father then was that she would get into big clashes with him (he’s not the subject, or the object of a passive verb, so it doesn’t feel like it was something he’d do to her, but rather she to him or else they were equal party), and then the subject doesn’t change so it’s still her getting into quarrels with other family members and crying or screaming at them (and other things along the same lines that go unsaid). Though she could be gentle, she also had an instability inside her heart that she wouldn’t always hide from other people, which was when she’d get like that and Sentarou would be afraid of her. But things would be peaceful again when he gave her sweets, and she’d return to her self who would speak gentle words and praise him/his cooking.

When we first get mention of his parents on the page before, he says he hasn’t made any effort to (made an effort not to?) think about his mother who died a long time ago or his father whom he hadn’t seen in 10 years. The difference in time description probably means that his mother died more than 10 years ago, or he probably would have described his mother having died 10 years ago and said he hadn’t seen his father since then.

I don’t know why he fell out of contact with his father or why he doesn’t think about him now, but I doubt he was abusive. Either that or both his parents were (even if his mother may not necessarily have been toward Sentarou, or at least he doesn’t suggest here that she directly was, but that still wasn’t a healthy environment to grow up in).

Chapter 3 discussion (and question)

I didn’t think that anyone was (necessarily) abusive. Sentarou was frightened by the change in his mother’s moods, but we don’t know what caused them. There may have been very legitimate reasons. The fact that he hasn’t spoken with his father for ages might point to something bad in his father’s behaviour (maybe towards the mother rather than the son though). I don’t think we have enough information.

Here’s a sentence I don’t understand:
What is コンクリートの塀 in this context?

Edit: I looked in the English translation’s sample and this sentence is translated like this:

By the time he was out from behind bars his mother was no longer in this world.

He was in prison? Is this a common way to say it?


Whoa. I also didn’t understand that sentence either. I assumed it was about writer’s block or something. Now I feel like I have to re-read it again.


Yeah. Re-reading after seeing your interpretation, I think that’s right.

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Finished chapter 4 and enjoyed the interactions between Sentaro and Tokue, although not liking Sentaro much right now.

Some more discussion questions for chapter 4 to get us rolling:
  1. Sentaro agrees to employ Tokue if she makes the an-paste but avoids interacting with the customers. How do you feel about this? Is this a fair proposition considering Tokue’s condition or is Sentaro manipulating an elderly woman who will do anything to work for him?

  2. When covering the terms of her employment, we learn who employed Sentaro and how uninvolved she is in his work. Tokue looks relieved when she learns she probably won’t have to meet her. What is the reason for her reaction? Do you think it’s connected to her hand deformity and the reason she’s so secretive about her contact information? What do you think she’s hiding, if anything?


So far this is a nice and quiet story.

Tokue seems to be a resolute old lady who knows how to attain her goals with subtle means (like bringing a sample of her あん) and step by step, but persistently. The question about the cherry tree in front of the shop (who planted it?) and the fact that she is coming a long way to work in this shop for almost no money shows that she has a special relationship with the shop, which we will hopefully get to know later in the story.

Sentaro is a man with a past of which we don’t know much yet. He is not really interested in his job, but he is not so heartless as it seems at first view. He reconsiders throwing away the あん sample and although he will be exploiting Tokue he treats her with some respect.


Week 3 is here :slightly_smiling_face: I’m a bit delayed on looking up vocabulary, but I’m still on track with the reading. I hope everyone is having a pleasant time with the book.

Chapter 4 Discussion

It does seem manipulative of Sentaro to come up with those conditions for her employment, but I kind of have a hard time particularly disliking Sentaro, because I’m guessing he’s going to come around soon and start seeing Tokue differently. Him agreeing to hire her, even if he has kind of bad intentions, was the first step in coming around, I guess.

As for Tokue’s reaction to hearing about Sentaro’s employment situation, I kind of have to guess that she used to work in the same location, because she cares so much about the trees and stuff. Maybe she has some sort of relation to Sentaro’s employer, though it’s hard to guess how so at this time.