夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 1 Discussion

I could be wrong, because I don’t have my copy in front of me, but I think this is just an example of where authors use furigana to give a double meaning. やつ is a relatively crude way of referring to someone, like “that guy”. So in both cases, he’s talking about youkai / a youkai, but in the second case he’s referring to them using that pronoun.

The kanji gives the reader more context so that you know he’s talking about the youkai.

Does that… make sense? You see it used in various ways. Sometimes the character will be talking about a location which will be spelled out fully in kanji, but then the reading is just ここ or something.


Other WK users seem to agree:

I’m just gonna cross-post my reply in case it’s helpful to anyone here.

Sorry, what’s the question again :sweat_smile:


@Leilaure suggested it might be ような気がする either cut mid-sentence or in a casual form? I’ve never encountered this expression before anyway, so I don’t know how it’s used at all

Thanks for clearing that up! That makes a lot of sense actually. It’s probably just because I haven’t done a lot of reading that I haven’t seen that before. But knowing really helps!

I think it must be cut-off, both because of the context and because you wouldn’t grammatically end a sentence with a particle like that. Japanese trails off sentences without finishing them a lot D:

気がする means something like “I have a feeling” or “I have a hunch”, so this would essentially make the sentence “I have a feeling like there’s a shrine…” etc.

No problem! It’s a cool little quirk that you really don’t encounter until you start reading, and then it’s really confusing until you know what’s going on :grin: it’s often used in some pretty interesting ways, like to show a difference between what a character is saying and what they’re actually thinking (like “yes my lord” vs “sure, you idiot”).


Damn, you guys are moving fast! Was giving a workshop all day and now so beat I’m not sure I’ll be able to read tonight.

In the meantime, here’s a conversation about the differences between 気がする and ような気がする, which I thought was interesting to our crew :slight_smile:


so I know the first part has been cleared up, so I’m gonna have a shot at the second part of your question. (Bare in mind I haven’t been reading for too long myself so Japanese in the wild still presents somewhat of a challenge to me)
Anyone please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

(You originally wrote かつた, but I’m pretty sure it’s actually かった. I found that it’s somehow really hard to tell which one it’s meant to be because there’s no much difference in font size.)

I believe it roughly translates to something like this:
Even though it was never easy (this is a stretch, it’s more like: the atmosphere/mood was never very good), recently there’s a lot of youkai that indiscriminately pick fights/attack.

Just to break it down:
もともと - from the start, originally, by nature
あまりいい気はしていなかった - not very good atmosphere (あまり~なかった = not very)
が - in this case, you can almost replace it with a ‘but’
最近は - recently
なぜか - for some reason, somehow
やたらと - indiscriminately
絡んでくる - come to pick fights/attack
妖怪がいる - there’s yokai.

I’m sorry if this is too much of a breakdown, but doing that always helps me understand better.

On another note, I’ve just read through the first chapter (mainly because otherwise I get horribly confused, so I prefer to just sit down and do it) and A) I really really like it so far and B) I have a new appreciation for fight scenes, the give a really nice break from having to read a lot. Not that that’s bad per se, but it’s quite nice to be able to spend a bit less time on a few pages here and there.


@Kyayna that’s a really good breakdown, I found it super helpful, thank you! :smile:

Glad I’m not the only one who struggles to tell between つ and っ as well, it’s quite frustrating at times :confused:

That makes sense! So it sounds like the difference between “I think there’s a place…” and “I think that there might be a place…” if I understood it right.

If I’m getting this right, both 気がする and 思う can be translated to “I think…” but the former is more of a gut feeling/suspicion while the latter is more of a concrete thought/fact/opinion?

@Kyayna @KeitoNee I’m also having trouble with つ and っ >.>

Speaking of, does anyone know if the furigana for 二組 on page seven is そっち or そつち?Or for that matter why it’s pronounce that way? I know what it means, but I can’t get my IME to type it unless I type 「ふたくみ」which is also how jisho.org has it listed…


Ok I’ve made it to page ten despite the fact that I can hardly keep my eyes open (yay me!) and I’m stumped (not a big surprise since I’m attempting this with barely any grammar and a very flimsy grasp on verb forms)… Last speech bubble:
I can’t even venture a guess, though I’m sure it’s probably simpler than all the other sentences I’ve read so far…

As for above
I’m guessing it means something along the lines of “I usually take refuge in that kind of shrine” but I’m missing something in the grammar (that でも I can’t figure out) and I can’t figure out the last kanji cause I can’t read the furigana lol…

On to page 11 (yay for fight scenes!)

Edit: also @Kyayna, you lifesaver with your beautiful breakdown! :heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

@Voi I think that’s another case of the kanji giving you information while the kana is what they’re actually saying? I read the kana as そっち (because no matter how I think about it, I can’t get そつち to make sense in context! Could be me being thick, though, or missing something important). It’s telling us he’s in class 2, but they’re saying something closer to ‘Natsume? Oh, that transfer student guy’. Because teenagers, or something. That’s what I’d assumed, anyway, but I could be wrong!

1 Like

@KeitoNee Ahh!! そっち as in the informal of そちら! That makes sense. I couldn’t figure out what word they were going for with そっち at all.

I got to page 12…going to post some questions then grab some lunch here.

Page 8, bubble 3: Is って here being used in lieu of は to emphasis the subject? I read that was one use for it, and otherwise can’t parse the grammar. He’s basically saying “ANYWAYS, isn’t there a shrine nearby?”

Also, hah, isn’t he pretty much blowing them off? “Dude, you’re sure you ok??? Pretty sure you’re not” “THAT ASIDE”

Page 12, bubble 2: Is there a に being dropped after よう? ~ないよう (に) = to avoid ~?I think it’s saying “To avoid invoking your [/our?] name[s] we/you should cut out the tongue.” Never seen this grammar before (…or I forgot it :slight_smile:)

Page 10 bbl 6: uuuhg this one. Under a cut for length/possible spoilers



I’m having trouble figuring out what the subject of 追う is. yokai? My best guess:

そういう = “things like that”. Is this referring yokai? Or maybe specifically the ones “picking fights”?
でも= “something like” maybe???
~てしまえば = this is ~てしまう as in “to finish” but in potential form? and “ば” as in the conditional? So the full word is “if [I] can finish~”
追ってこない = te-form of 追う (this is what jisho says the base word is, but my IME refuses to type it although it gets 追って just fine? Is the base word wrong?) and negative of くる

“Usually if I can [successfully] escape to something like a shrine those things can’t come and chase [me there]”?

After lunch I’ll add 追う after. Also 抜く since I don’t see them.

Anyone know how to make sure you’re posting anon in the spreadsheet?

一体何 basically means “What the heck” so I guess in this context the sentence more like “What the hell are you going on about?” I believe in reference to the youkai?

As for

I think you’re going on about the last speech bubble on that page? 追ってこなく is the missing bit in your question marks, I think??? I took the line as meaning something along the lines of “most of the time the youkai will stop chasing you if you’re near/at a shrine.” or something very similar to that.

Again don’t fully take my word for it, it’s just the best that I was able to do with my little skills.

1 Like

Can I ask how you guys approach the book?
I mean, do you translate every text bubble into english on the side, do you just translate the kanji you don’t know or? I usually translate the whole sentence into English in my notebook, but I would love to hear how you guys do, and if there is a better way (also to improve the learning process)

1 Like

Thank you that’s awesome! I’m still at a loss with the grammar as I’m way behind on it, but I’ll try breaking it down when i have more time.

To answer @Minisovs, ideally if I had the time I would try to break down the sentences like @Kyayna did above… Unfortunately I rarely have the time, so I do it for a few sentences, and the rest I wing my understanding by looking up the words/forms I don’t know with the Google translate camera option or HouHou, in which I enter all new words for reviews at a later date (right now I’m focusing on my Kitsunio Natsume deck, while HouHou has ALL new words I come across lol)

1 Like

Figured I’d answer to this, but this is also an answer to @Minisovs question.

I don’t actually break down every sentence like I did above, just long ones. And I don’t really write it down anywhere, just look up anything I don’t know and slowly piece it together.

I don’t use this as much of a study tool as most other readers seem to. For me it’s more an exercise in fluid reading. I try to simply read and understand as I go and look up the parts that throw me off too much. I don’t try to get into every single detail (apart from sometimes, when I have one of my obsessive moments).

This forum is really good for me personally because it actually reminds me to look stuff up I don’t understand, rather than just skipping over it. It’s a bad habit I have to just ignore what I don’t know, but I treat it more as immersive learning, kinda like leaving the Japanese radio on while doing other stuff (obviously not quite as in the background as that though, as I still make sure I get what’s going on).

But if you really wanna study with it, I actually recommend simply writing down (as in copy it from the book into a notebook or where ever, in Japanese) whatever gives you trouble rather than translating every single sentence from the get go and then try to figure it out from there. That way you preserve your energy for what you don’t know, rather than tackling things you’re already solid in as well. Maybe even put little notes on where you got the sentence from in the book as a reference for later on.


Okay so I’m not 100% sure on this one either, but here’s my take:


Talking about that (the more frequent youkai attacks), usually they wouldn’t come following me if I [happened to] take refuge in a shrine or something.
(I’m assuming het gets cut off at the end, or loses train of thought, but I’m REALLY not sure about that. On a guess, I would have thought we’re missing a て at the end to indicate him wanting to add something, but again, I’m not sure)


そういうのは - the youkai attacks mentioned before
大抵 - generally, usually
神社に - at a shrine
でも - or something
逃げ込んでしまえば - If [I] happened to take refuge ( しまう- suffix for unexpected/finished actions; 〜えば- ‘if’ construction, conditional)
追ってこなく。。。- doesn’t come to follow

Again, I could be completely wrong, so if anyone could correct or confirm, that would be awesome.

1 Like

Well that makes sense to me, and clarifies some of the forms I don’t know, so thanks! I’m feeling my lack of grammar and am just now trying to finally get those verb forms in my brain so it makes reading easier… :slight_smile:

I literally have a google docs open and I translate each speech bubble and mark each page. Until I’m more comfortable and a little quicker at reading, I think I’ll keep doing this method. Then maybe I’ll just start writing down the kanji I don’t know, and hopefully get to a point where I don’t need to write much of anything down at all.