小川未明童話集 - Ogawa Mimei’s Collection of Children’s Stories (Beginner Book Club)

Well done on the wording of the ‘no’ option! I feel so bad now :sweat_smile:
But I already have a hard time keeping up with all the book clubs I want to participate in so I have to bow out.


Well, there are 18 stories in the version of the ebook I have so I’m gonna have to keep going :eyes:


I’m a little undecided. On the one hand, I’d be fine with stopping any time. We’ve read a good variety of stories, some of which I liked a lot, some of which I could take or leave, as was to be expected. I feel like it’s easy to get tired of them if you read them all at once, but on the other hand, if I pause now, it’s very unlikely that I’ll resume reading them at any point in the future. So I guess I could dedicate three more weeks, but probably not longer. And if we go with the “I’ll read at my own time” option, my own time might turn out to be “all at once” or, just as likely, “never at all”.


Hahaha, that’s my thinking exactly! “If I don’t read them now, I will probably never* touch them again.”

(* or maybe not in the forseeable future, at least)

So I’m leaning towards “let’s get over and done with them” - hence the 3-week option…

しょうがないね :joy_cat:

Oh, I tried to phrase it so that it’s easy to select (morally speaking) :roll_eyes: Sorry…

Totally relatable - same here :laughing:

oh man I just hope JLPT is over soon…


Indeed a worthy goal. :+1:
Not that there’s anything wrong in not continuing on, I just really like finishing things, personally. :smiley:
I was already planning to read a few more so I could feel like I ‘earned’ the right to mark (and consider) it done.


I will probably read the remaining stories Some Day ™. I would love to, but more than anything I would love to start reading something slightly more modern.

Already kind of wondering how much has Japanese changed from the 1950s until now.


I’ve enjoyed the stories quit a bit but I’m completely fine with all options. Because of that I didn’t want to alter the result by my voting so I voted for all just to show participation. Thanks for organising this! :slight_smile:


I plan to read 地球星人 🌏 Book Club, so I will read the remaining Ogawa stories when there is any free time left.


Thanks to everybody who voted and responded! I‘m very happy to see that some of you are interested in finishing the remaining stories.

My plan is as follows: I will set up the threads for all remaining stories right after we finished the last book club story, and I will read the stories in a 2-2-1 schedule across 3 weeks. Of course everybody is free to post in any of the threads whenever they like (even before the schedule gets there). This way I think we‘ve covered all the options :slight_smile:


Here is the second-to-last story of the regular book club!
This and next week’s stories are a bit longer, so take your time :upside_down_face:


And - finally - we’ve arrived at the last story of the regular book club! Enjoy :tada:


I’ve set up the threads for the follow-up stories (no I’m not going to post them here :rofl:) Please have a look in the OP for the links.
Also, I’ve added screenshots for The Missing Story™ - I hope you’ll enjoy it!


Satisfaction Poll Time!

Have you read Ogawa Mimei’s stories (that were part of the regular book club, without the five extra stories)?

  • I finished it
  • I’m still reading and I plan on finishing it
  • I don’t plan to finish it
  • I never even started it

0 voters

If you read the book, how would you rate it on a 5 point scale? (1: hated it, 5: loved it)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Unsure / Didn’t finish

0 voters

If you read the book, how would you rate its difficulty?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters

Which stories did you like best?

You can pick up to 4 stories.

  • 野ばら
  • 電信柱と妙な男
  • 眠い町
  • 殿さまの茶わん
  • 月夜と眼鏡
  • 金の輪
  • 大きなかに
  • 牛女
  • 飴チョコの天使
  • 黒い旗物語
  • 黒い人と赤いそり
  • 港に着いた黒んぼ
  • 赤いろうそくと人魚

0 voters

Participation Statistics

The number of participants continuously dropped during the whole book club, which was to be expected to a certain extent. Also of course the nature of the individual stories made it easy to drop out and hard to keep up the motivation as there is no overall narrative that pulls you forward. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to see that the number of readers remained somewhat stable during the second half of the club.


It wasn’t easy choosing only 4 favorite stories, which must mean I liked them more than I thought at the time. I almost included 殿さまの茶わん in my favourites, but that one story was so much harder to read than the rest that if I focused on it I would have to answer “significant difficulty” in the difficulty poll - so I just chose to ignore it. :sweat_smile: Overall, strangely, in terms of difficulty, whatever I’ve read with the Intermediate bookclub (sample of one book and 17 pages of another so far, so not much) was much smoother than anything I’ve read with the ABBC or BBC. :eyes:
All in all, I really did enjoy this look into children’s stories of old, and I’m quite looking forward to reading the rest of them that are included in the book. Thanks for organizing this, @NicoleIsEnough!


Right? :grinning: At first I was like, choosing 3 should be plenty as everybody was so unhappy with these stories anyways (in my mind at least :sweat_smile:) but then I thought it can’t hurt to choose 4 as we had a (pretty large) total number of 13. Glad to hear you did enjoy a lot of them anyways!

That really shows how hard it is to decide upon difficulty (especially before reading…).
Also, “for small children” does not equal “easy” of course, as even small children can speak and understand even (for us) difficult grammar just fine. So those books focus more on easing the one difficulty smaller children tend to face, namely kanji, which unfortunately has the opposite effect on us kanji-experts :tired_face:.
Plus, I still believe that many manga tend to be harder to read because they mainly consist of spoken language which can be incredibly hard to understand without lots of exposure and experience.

Aww, that makes me so happy! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: Halfway through I was actually wondering whether I had made a terrible mistake in suggesting this book because the stories were so weird and so pointless at times. Good to hear that you enjoyed it nonetheless!


Yes, I absolutely agree. That has been my experience so far as well.

I really enjoyed reading the stories and big thanks to @NicoleIsEnough for managing this book club :slight_smile: .

Unfortunately, I didn’t read the last 2 stories, because I decided to switch focus to reading slightly more modern texts which ended up not being so modern, but oh well :smiley:


In my particular case I didn’t dislike the stories, rather I felt that they were really hard to follow in terms of imagery and whatever analogies Ogawa-san was trying to provide in them. Some stories had the characters take really strange and illogical decisions, but I didn’t feel like the stories were bad, just out of my comprehension.

The problem I see with the few modern fairy tales that I read in English is that they seem hell-bent on forcing a moral lesson down my throat. They feel like the story is a secondary concern to the moral, and that makes me feel uncomfortable (probably because many times the morals are very naïve and simplistic, and hardly practical in real life) and also makes the story forced and unnatural.

Ogawa-san stories feel a lot better in that regard; while many did seem to hint to some sort of moral, they felt more subtle in general and clearly there was a lot of work into the story itself. My favorite story was 金の輪 that gave me a strong impression of being a nice short story that delivered a strong ending without trying to “teach” anything. It really felt that Ogawa-san just wanted to tell a story. I also like sad endings a lot, so I didn’t mind that part.


First, thank you for managing this book club.

It was interesting to see how much the Japanese language changed over the last century. You can read a 100 years old book in French, German or English without noticing its age, but with Japanese I think it is different (perhaps also due to me not being used to the polite speech used in some of the stories).

There have been many comments on the strange endings of some tales - I share this feeling. I wonder how today’s Japanese children react when their parents read those tales to them.

In any case it has been an interesting experience both for language and contents.


Thank you for organising this @NicoleIsEnough!! Including all the useful grammar explanations that you prepared which were an appreciated bonus!

Yes, that is true but there are other factors that make manga easier. The pictures help to understand the story in general, of course, but also to give more context for unfamiliar vocabulary. And sentences in manga tend to be more broken up so that just knowing the verb and the nouns can be enough to reconstruct the meaning, whereas in books sentences can become very long (some of Ogawa’s paragraphs were just one big sentence) and then you need grammar knowledge to break them down.


I came back to this the last couple of months and have been steadily working through to the end. I found the second half of the schedule much easier going, right up until that monster of a final story in week 16!

I found this book very helpful in forcing me to change from reading Japanese where I’ve been keen to try and understand fairly completely each word and phrase, to being able to accept some uncertainty/ambiguity as long as I’ve got the gist of the story. In fact I enjoyed reading one of the 8 page stories towards the end simply reading start to finish without any dictionary or other aids to hand!

As for the stories they were fascinating. Strange, surprising, sometimes abruptly twisting and ending. I definitely felt like I was reading stories from another time and culture.

Thanks for all the contributions to the vocab sheet, the grammar notes, and reflections on the stories. Thanks especially to @NicoleIsEnough for the fantastic organisation, and to @omk3 for containing to post reflections and insights right up to the end.