おばちゃんたちのいるところ 👻 (Intermediate Book Club) ・ Week 2

Week 2 5 November 2022
Story 1 (from 小学生のあの)
End page 34
Page count 13
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I feel like my progress with this book is going in fits and starts. I’ll get quite lost in a passage of dialect (especially but not limited to おばちゃん). And then I’ll suddenly be able to read several lines or paragraphs with no issue at all.

I’m wondering, are all the stories by the same author? I’m hoping that will make things easier as the book goes on. Also, are the stories related to each other?


Same author. Only related loosely in that they have to do with women and the supernatural, as far as I understand. I haven’t read any story other than the first one yet, but I’m hoping we won’t necessarily come across dialect in all of them.


That’s good. At least the style will probably be similar, even if the “voice” changes.

Today I’ve read 5/10 pages of this week’s reading (my font size is different), which isn’t too bad. I should be caught up soon. Possible I’ll catch up more tonight. I’m having a 4 course matched wine dinner. Alone. So reading quite a bit. Can’t tell if the reading is improving or going downhill as the wine volume increases…


I imagine it will get ever more ‘extensive’ :stuck_out_tongue:


The second story has no dialect, but a little more formal language.


Finished the story! The second half was quite a bit easier. Does anyone else feel that this story’s notion of feminism seems a bit old-fashioned and second-wavey? All of that man hating and hair growing :stuck_out_tongue:

In case anyone wasn’t sure who Okiku and Oiwa are, here’s a decent article.


It did feel a bit like that, yes. But I’m waiting to see how the other stories go. What also felt a little lacking to me was character motivation. How and when exactly did the main character switch from pink decorations and body hair removal to loving being a hairy monster? It all felt way too abrupt to me, even for a short story.


Same. I felt it was all a bit superficial and I agree that you can’t simply attribute that to the short story format, because look at what Murata managed to do in four measly pages with 余命 :woman_shrugging:t2:


Glad it wasn’t just me. I had to sit for a moment and rethink back on the reading to figure out if I had missed a couple of pages or something in there.


Where did you see anything about being a “hairy monster”? All I saw was that she accepted that her body didn’t need to be completely hairless because of her aunt and decided to stop shaving her arms. I mean, I definitely might have missed it, I didn’t feel like I understood much of what was going on in this entire story (and honestly attributed the abruptness to that, so it’s somewhat comforting to see that others felt it was abrupt too)


That’s interesting, you made me doubt myself. I guess it can all be interpreted as her having a very exaggerated sensation of her body hair, but I took it literally.

She touches her face and feels hair like on her head: 思わず顔をさわってみたが、あるの頭の毛と同じ感覚だった。
She says that her body is covered in hair from top to bottom. I guess that’s true in any case, although she even specifies the length: 全身から生えている毛は、貞子のロングヘアーの半分ぐらいの長さ. She looks at herself in the mirror and talks about 変身. Is it just in her mind? It might be. But phrases like 熊でも猿でもない、謎のつやつやしたいきものがそこにはいた, and other descriptions, made me take it literally. I guess it’s open to interpretation after all.


Ah, I think those might have been phrases where my brain only like half-processed them and didn’t contextualize them. I was almost certainly tired when I read it and I wasn’t into this story, found it too weird, so definitely not ideal conditions for understanding lol

Those first two phrases that you gave, I understand them just fine, and I have some recollection of reading them, but it must have been like an “in one ear, out the other” type situation. (The third one I remember reading, but I don’t 100% understand it, but that could also be lack of context.) Okay, so she’s either one of those rare people whose body hair is long too (and thus she’d even go so far as to shave her arms, and it’s not simply that she became obsessed with being completely smooth and took that step beyond shaving her legs [unless shaving your arms too is expected in Japan…?]), or she’s just so used to having no body hair that once it’s grown long enough not to be prickly anymore, that’s like a completely alien sensation to her and so it’s exaggerated


In the first week of this club I linked to an article about body hair in Japan. Apparently both women and men often undergo body hair removal, arms included. But I took the ending literally, because why not. There are stories about the supernatural after all. If your dead aunt rings the doorbell and eats your cookies (or whatever the food was, I don’t remember), I don’t see why you can’t turn into some hairy youkai. Anything goes.

By the way I think 貞子 is 貞子 from the Ring, and I don’t think anyone has body hair that long. But again, her perception may just be distorted. That’s a valid reading as well, as far as I’m concerned.


I must have missed that, since I hadn’t started the story yet when I opened the thread and set it to tracking, and had intended to go back and read everything once I’d caught up, and then… forgot. Because of course I did.

Well, I hope the second story isn’t as weird and I have a better time of it. Or at least if it is weird, then that it’s the type of weird that I’ll enjoy


It also says (p33) 自在に毛の出し入れができるようになった she became able to produce and retract the hair at will. Personally I also read this at face value as a supernatural power, which she gains control and acceptance of after that first wild uncontrolled manifestation in the public bath. After all the story’s already had a ghost in it…


Ah, so that’s why she ended up leaving the bath so quickly? Because her hair suddenly grew? I kind of wish I had spent more time trying to understand the story and looking up words I didn’t know or wasn’t confident about and didn’t just let my brain shut off. Yup, it was almost certainly literal then, even if the “about half the length of Sadako’s hair” might have been a bit of an exaggeration. Okay. This story’s wild

Update 3 hrs later because my brain is never where it should be and I only just made the connection:
That “power” oba-chan told her she had wasn’t just some self-acceptance talk to get her to realize and accept that shaving (at least her arms) is dumb and she doesn’t have to do it, like I’d assumed, she meant an actual, literal, supernatural power. Okay. Yeah, we got an aunt who’s a ghost and a niece who has magical powers. Anything does indeed go. The parts of the story make more sense now, but the story itself still doesn’t make sense


I thought she literally became Cousin Itt. But I have to say I prefer the interpretation where it’s all a metaphor :grin: That she stopped shaving and the reactions of the onlookers were just your run of the mill peer pressure (‘Just look at those arms!’).