I was a little busy with life when we just started reading the book, and I kept telling myself I would join the discussion later (and then I never did ). Sorry about that. I’ve also been reading at a slower pace (kept telling myself I would catch up later, too ) - I am currently at about week 2/3. Definitely planning on continuing reading, though whether and how fast I’ll catch up depends largely on my motivation
I looked it up too, and according to Japanese Wikipedia, the arrangement with the half tatami in the centre is considered unlucky, and is even called 「切腹の間」. This is not the arrangement in the book’s room, however.
With our story set in Kyoto, I’d imagine we are dealing with the 京間 size of 0.955 m by 1.91 m. So a side of a 4 and a half tatami room would be about 2.86 m.
Again according to Japanese Wikipedia, until the 1970s it was standard for student accommodation to be this size, and in fact the term 「四畳半」was used to refer to a room of a young person with limited finances, and in general this period of a young person’s life. (Our novel was published in 2005)
Apparently there’s even a category of Japanese songs from the seventies called 四畳半フォーク (Yojohan folk songs), with lyrics about the life and love troubles of poor young people.
There’s also at least two more books featuring four and a half tatami mats in their title: 四畳半襖の下張, a novel published first published in 1917 (and again in 1972?), and 元祖大四畳半大物語, a manga published in the 70s. Interestingly, its synopsis feels vaguely familiar: a young man living in a cheap apartment in Tokyo spends his days idly, his efforts to realize his ambition to make it big one day coming to nothing. He is surrounded by peculiar characters causing commotion every day. Hmm.
I wondered about that too. There’s definitely storage space in the room in the book, and since tatami are only used to cover living space, I would assume storage space would not be counted. Photos of four and a half tatami rooms I see online seem to support that.
I feel it would be silly to do participation charts given the circumstances, but we can still do a satisfaction poll. Anyone who’s read the book before or will read the book in the future can also participate, so the poll will stay open indefinitely.
If you read the book, how would you rate it on a 5 point scale? (1: hated it, 5: loved it)
Unsure / Didn’t finish
If you read the book, how would you rate its difficulty?
It took a while to get into but I quite liked the book in the end. The difficulty was fairly high at the beginning with all the fancy vocab and grammar, but it got easier after a while, especially since it repeats a lot.
And I would like to thank @omk3 for being an awesome host!
And thank you @miwuc for being an awesome reading partner! It may have been just the two of us for most of the time, but I enjoyed discussing the book with you.
I really enjoyed the book. The difficulty felt rather exhausting in the beginning, but I gradually got used to the style, and by the end it didn’t feel difficult at all. As you say, the repetitions helped, as did having some context.
It was fun getting into the book without knowing almost anything about it. For the longest time, I had no idea what to expect or where it was leading. It was a fun ride.
I watched the first episode of the anime yesterday. I thought that after having read the book it would be easier than the last time I tried it, but no. Even with English subtitles on, I had trouble keeping up with its almost superhuman speed. And the first episode makes no sense at all, way less than the first chapter does. I also noticed it doesn’t correspond to the book 100%. I read that while it’s true to the spirit of the book, the anime has a lot of added content , basically even more clubs to join and more variations on the central theme.
I also didn’t know anything apart from what was in the nomination post, which I’d already forgotten by the time we started reading.
I watched part of the first episode of the anime and I do think having read the book helps a lot: I can almost sort of follow >_>
By the way I saw that the sequel, The Tatami Time Machine Blues (四畳半タイムマシンブルース), also got a 6 episode anime adaptation. And then there’s also another book & anime feature film called Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (夜は短し歩けよ乙女) which is the “spiritual sequel to The Tatami Galaxy”. It seems that the same characters and setting are the same, but the plot is unrelated, so it’s not a proper sequel.