地球星人 🌏 Book Club ・ Week 2

Okay, now I think I finally got the logistics. :+1:t2:


Btw, cousin-met-only-at-Obon thing is also in short story 魔法のからだ from 生命式.
I think I already mentioned it during 授乳 book club when there was a talk about recurring themes, but since there are newcomers here, I decided to repeat myself.
So now of course I’m wondering if it’s autobiographical.


Thank you for the information. I’ll try to get my hands on a copy of 生命式.


Gonna answer some questions before reading the thread this time. (My page numbers are from my kindle version and seem to not line up with the hard copy)

1. Hardest sentence to understand:


-pg15 手前の部屋は山形が使うから。奥の部屋は福岡が使ってるけど - how does one “use” Yamagata or Fukuoka. Is it families from those places?
-pg18 家族水入らず I was able to look up - I guess feeling outside of one’s family, like you don’t belong?
-pg.23 うらやましくて しかた がなかった did I parse this right? Is it saying I don’t know how to be jealous of Yui, or I’m jealous I don’t know what to do ”私は、自分も宇宙人になりたくて、帰る場所がある由宇がうらやましくてしかたがなかった”

2. What was your favorite new vocab word from this week’s reading?


宝探し was a fun and easy to understand word
豆電球 was similarly instantly understandable
a load of other stuff I had to look up, but nothing that stuck with me

3. Was there any passage that you found particularly intriguing? Did it resonate with you (either positively or negatively)? Was it surprising? Offer any insight or new perspective? Was it just beautifully written?


I read it a while ago, so don’t recall anything in particular. There’s a lot of general intrigue into their relationship and where this story is going

4. What do you think drove Natsuki and Yuu together? Why might they feel such an affinity towards each other?


I struggle to read deeper than they are just similar age / similar interests in a world full of old people - I can’t say I understand the 恋人 dynamic yet but keen to read on

5. How does Murata’s language paint the Obon scene? Do you have any childhood memories or traditions that you remember so vividly?


It paint a pretty vivid picture of a lively house, and people trying to uphold traditions. Similar to the big extended-family Christmas lunches I used to have when I was a kid, where there was a lot of people you didn’t know, or didn’t remember and you were forced to say “Merry Christmas” to.


Does it help if I point out 部屋は福岡が使ってる means Fukuoka is using the room not that something’s using Fukuoka? (otherwise it would be 福岡を)
I’d say yeah, it’s the speaker using the prefectures different groups of relatives are from as shorthand for the different family units while telling the newly arrived which room to use.


ty, I flipped things in my head when reading my notes. My previous thought was “how does a prefecture use a room”, but now I follow. Pretty sure we used to use cities sometimes when talking about room assignments or arrive times - but that didn’t come to mind.

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水入らず means no outsiders, strictly, purely, so 家族水入らず would mean strictly family only, no outsiders. In the English translation of the book (I had read the sample, and it goes as far as this part), it’s given as “close-knit family”, which doesn’t seem entirely accurate to me, but works in context. In any case, the takeaway is that Natsuki doesn’t regard herself as a true member of this family, so when they are “family-only” it’s without her.

I understand this as “I couldn’t help but be jealous”


I don’t think I’ll keep up this speed until I’m caught up lol but since I have both motivation and free time at the moment, I might as well ride this wave as far as it can carry me :joy: :muscle:

This seems simple enough that I might be missing something obvious but I’m not getting the role of へと in this sentence:


The verb here is just あがる, right? So why is it へと instead of just へ?

When Natsuki talked about how she’d make herself magically invisible for the sake of her family, that somehow really hit me in the feels, it sounds exactly like the kind of sad thing a child might say nonchalantly :disappointed_relieved: Her descriptions of the silkworms was also beautiful, I’m curious to see how that will come up again.

The main thing that stood out to me was the uncomfortable feeling of being around that many relatives you remember either barely or not at all :grimacing: Not sure how much I’m projecting onto Natsuki here, since she seems somewhat detached from everything going around her, but she really doesn’t seem to be enjoying it.


へと is basically just へ with added emphasis, so you’re not missing anything. :slight_smile:

I think that on the contrary, you’ll find it hard to slow down once you are caught up. This is really a book that’s almost impossible to put down, as I’m finding out.


I’m waaaaay behind having been sidelined by a nasty case of eye inflammation over the holidays which made reading more or less impossible, but back on the saddle! Not totally sure I’ll catch up as I’m currently editing my dissertation, but we’ll see.

Not sure I have much to add, but I loved the atmosphere she created, made me feel nostalgic for the days of big family gatherings (which have mostly ended now that grandparents have passed away). I have 20ish cousins on my mother side, so I can emphathise with the ceaseless bustle, the grandfather who gets your name wrong, the sudden appearance of new babies, the cobbled together table that stretches into multiple rooms… Just goes to show how some experiences cross over cultural barriers.

I agree with others that there were some warning signs: how resigned Natsuki seems to be to being scolded, Yuu being parentified… I’m also getting slightly wierd vibes from uncle Tetsuyoshi (? Can’t be bothered to check the name), considering he seems to be… Comfortable around children. But maybe that’s just me imagining things.


I am also way behind on this book still, but my goal is to catch up by Week 12. The juicy, speculative conversations started with this week’s reading, and I have a feeling that’s only gotten truer as the weeks have gone by.

Regarding the children

Like pretty much everyone else, I suspect abuse is happening. That passage people brought up about Yu’s mother “doting on him like a lover” set off red flags of possible sexual abuse. At the very least, I think both children are being emotionally abused (maybe to different degrees, but nevertheless).

That section with Natsuki scooping out the rice really got to me.

「いいええ、本当にあの子は みそっかす で、何やらせても下手くそなでね、見てるほうが疲れるんで嫌になっちゃうんですよう。」

実際に私は 出来損ないで、よそったご飯もうまく丸くふっくらせず、ぺったりしてしまっていた。

These are incredibly harsh terms, for a parent to use regarding their child, as well as for a child to use in regard to themselves. Perhaps it’s objectively true that her scoops aren’t immaculate, but there’s no reason to admonish her over something like this. Others brought up how her mother and sister are “海” people, so there’s a definite sense that the mother doesn’t want to be there. I get that there’s a sense that she needs to “perform” in front of her in-laws, of which there are a TON. I can certainly relate to that stress in some ways. I also imagine she feels her children need to “perform” to a certain level, as well, maybe because if they don’t, it will reflect poorly on her? This is speculation at this point. Regardless, the fact that it wasn’t even a quick scold, but kind of went on for a bit, makes me wonder if this woman is just that comfortable scolding Natsuki like this.

(Side note: really liked @wiersm’s observation that perhaps Natsuki’s whole family is uncomfortable being here. Really curious to find out if her father has any baggage with his family.)

After reading @AmomentOfMusic’s response, I’m now suspicious of pretty much all of the adults until they’re proven innocent.

Difficult aspect of reading

I posted about this in the Read every day challenge thread, but something that’s been bothering me for a while (and is very much present in this book) is how the tenses regularly switch between past and present. One example is here:

てるよしおじさんが玄関で声を 張り上げている 。「ほら、きた。奈月ちゃん、こっちはいいから行っておいで」「はい!」 私はしゃもじをおばさんに渡して 立ち上がった 。外からは虫の声が する 。もうすっかり、夜が訪れて、台所の窓の外は普通の色に 染まっていった

@downtimes provided me with a good explanation behind this, and I thought I’d share in case anyone here was wondering, too.


I can relate, this bothered me so much in the first novel I read! This time I hadn’t even noticed it until you pointed it out :slight_smile:
When I had asked about it then, I was told it was common and was directed to this link. I found it very interesting how some of these choices are just down to avoiding the monotony of all verbs ending in -ta.


Thanks for the link! This line really intrigued me:

However, if they were all in the present tense, or in the past tense, the text would look repetitive and sort of unpolished.

It’s amazing how completely opposite this is from English! It really gets me thinking about how different the storytelling process is between the two languages. With English, you have to decide between telling a story in the past tense (as if a character is looking back on everything) or present (where things are happening in-the-moment for them). I’m still not that well read in Japanese, but I wonder if there are any novels/short stories that decidedly take place in the present. :thinking:

Anyway, sorry for the off-topic tangent. Writing is one of my passions, so this topic’s fascinating for me. :sweat_smile:

Edit: one of the comments on that reddit thread says this:

When you read a novel you are reading it as the story unfolds (i.e. in supposed real-time of the novel’s setting)

I guess now I wonder about there being Japanese stories that are decidedly the narrator talking about past events. This makes me want to read works translated into Japanese to see how the translators handled different tenses/POVs.


Thinking back to my high school Spanish days there’s actually a whole verb tense for “setting the scene”, which is pretty cool. So you have two tenses that are “past” in a way, with the imperfect building the scene and the preterite describing actions. So it seems like in Japanese the present can kind of be used in a similar way to the Spanish imperfect.


I’ve read 4 of the Harry Potters, and am currently working through Dune. Like omk3, I don’t really notice the tense switching now, but I do believe that in those translations everything was past tense… I’ll try to keep an eye out as I continue with Dune between the weekly book club assignments…


You’re reading that in Japanese? I finished the first novel in English last week. I imagine it’s quite challenging in Japanese! 応援しています!


The English Cliff notes help a lot :sweat_smile:


Seems like I don’t pay close enough attention. I never noticed that the tense changes. :sob: I’ll try to have a closer look next week.


Reporting back that the translation of Dune definitely throws in present tense here and there.