魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 5

For the home thread for 魔女の宅急便, click here!

:arrow_backward: For the Chapter 4 discussion thread, click here!

For the Chapter 6 discussion thread, click here! :arrow_forward:

Join our Beginner’s Book Club here!

image 魔女の宅急便 image

Starting date: February 11th
Finishing date: February 24th

Vocabulary List

Vocab Spreadsheet

魔女の宅急便 Vocab
In Raionus’ vocab list, this chapter begins from #

Characters in This Chapter

  • キキ - a young witch
  • コキリ - Kiki’s mother (a witch)
  • オキン - Kiki’s father (non-magical)
  • ジジ - Kiki’s black cat (黒猫)

Discussion rules:

  • Please use spoiler tags for content that would be considered a spoiler.

  • When asking for help, please do mention page/paragraph/speech balloon and if you’re using the physical or the digital version.

  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions, even if they seem embarassing at first. All of us are here to learn.

  • Have fun :slight_smile:

We’re discussing grammar, vocab usage and its context, checking if our reading comprehension is right, interesting plot/character development, etc.


Welcome to chapter 5!

I finally got around to looking up ひざっこぞう, which seemed to be related to ひざ(knee).
Apparently it is 甲州弁(こうしゅうべん) - dialect from Yamanashi prefecture, and means kneecap.
In regular Japanese, that would be ひざがしら.
(Not that I feel I am likely to use that word in conversation any time soon, but you never know!)


I don’t know if this is different from what you found @Kyasurin but I found ひざこぞう (膝小僧) without the っ in jisho. Yes, meaning kneecap.

1 Like

I think you mean ひざしら. By the way, I also found 膝小僧 like @trout did.

Thank you both. I just saw the ??? in the vocab list and thought I would try and solve the mystery.
Memo to self: never post when tired, bound to make at least one mistake! :joy:
But, I love the kanji.
膝頭 (ひざがしら) - 頭 meaning head
膝小僧 (ひざこぞう) - 小僧 meaning young priest
I wonder who first looked at kneecaps and thought of two small bald heads!


Yeah, I usually put question marks when I find something that seems right but I’m not sure.

Jiji seemed to indicate that he didn’t want to go to the beach, but I guess Kiki is making him go with her anyway. And he seemed so comfortable sprawled out like that on the floor…

I clearly missed some things in this conversation though. It seemed to me like Osono-san was going to go with Kiki since she offered to help babysit (I think). I interpretted that as Kiki would help babysit together with Osono-san at the beach so she wasn’t by herself. But I guess she meant that she’d babysit so Osono-san could go without the baby some other time? I thought this specifically because of the line 「あたし、一緒に行ってあげるわよ。赤ちゃん見ててあげるわ。」(page 91 blue book). I know there was other dialog of Osono-san saying she couldn’t because of the young baby, but for some reason I thought Kiki convinced her because she offered to help.

Can anyone clear up this conversation for me?

I came down with the flu last weekend, and am just now starting to feel better, so I have some catching up to do. On the very first page of this chapter, I’m lost already. I understand Kiki’s hot, so she undid a button on her blouse and stretched to let a breeze in. But then we have, parenthetically… well shoot, apparently my computer’s sick too, because Japanese input has quit working. :frowning: I’ll have to reboot.

But anyway, it’s something like “(Oh dear. I say she stretched, but although it was not to be able to see, her mother’s letter is correct.)” Obviously I’m failing to grasp the end there.

And then the following line – no longer in parentheses – seems to say that in Kik’s home town, if you stretch, you can often see Kusayama to the east. Which seems like an oddly pointless detail to include to me. Any help?

It’s currently 35C (95F) here and my black cat is similarly sprawled, albeit in the air-conditioning rather than to catch the sea breeze.

Osono-san is urging Kiki to go but says it’s むり to go herself this year with the little one, and she will just endure the heat. Kiki offers to make it possible "I’ll go with you. I’ll look after the baby for you."
But Osono-san replies 「いいのよ」which I interpret as “It’s OK (for me not to go)” and then she goes back to talking about Kiki.


Don’t stress (it’s too hot!)
I think this is what happens.
Kiki undoes the button to try and cool down, and in the process she straightens her back and stretches. This reminds her of the fact that if she stretched at home, she would see the top of the mountain. But there is no mountain here to see, so it must be the letter from her mother, talking about the mountain, that subconsciously prompted her to think of the mountain when she stretched.
(Followed by the content of the letter, and Kiki having a moment of nostalgia in the sunshine.)

My best guess on the line in parentheses
Oh dear. Even if I stretch, there’s no way I’ll see it, its because of Mum’s letter.

PS Hope you’re feeling well soon jstrout!


@Kyasurin I forgot you can use いい like that. That’s definitely what threw me off then. Thanks!

@jstrout Those first few pages were really tough for me too. I understood a lot of the words and some of the meaning, but I was really confused by the flow and how reading the letter impacted Kiki’s actions. It was one of those times that I understood enough to move on, but I didn’t understand nearly as much as I would have liked…

My take on the first couple pages:

Kiki opens the door to the shop and puts up a hand to shield her eyes from the light. It’s a beautiful day. When Kiki first arrived in this city, the sun was gentle, not so different from that in the forested town where she grew up. But now, the sun here hits you like a ball to the face.

Kiki says, “the sun by the seashore is really something.” As she undoes the top button of her blouse to let some air in, she stretches up on tiptoe.

(Why did I do that? It’s not like I can see it from here. It’s because of that letter from mom…)

In the house where Kiki grew up, if she stood on tiptoe she could see the tip of the grassy hill (not sure if kusayama is the name of the place or a description) to the east. Two days ago, she received a letter from her mother mentioning that mountain.

“Yesterday, I was out doing something and flew by Kusayama on my way back. I remembered that time you went there on an errand and you didn’t come back until late. The grass was knee-high. I sat down in it and looked at the sky for a while. And what do you think happened then? I fell asleep! The smell of the grass and the cool breeze was so relaxing. I don’t know how long it was until I woke up and hurried home. When your father looked at my face, he burst out laughing. I looked just like you, he said. My face was covered in grass. I couldn’t help but laugh.”

Thinking about the grassy hill where she used to play and the small streets of her small hometown, Kiki was overwhelmed with nostalgia.

“Well, time to get to work.”

The general narrative flow is that while Kiki is settling in to her new city, it still feels very different from home.


That moment you’re reading a weather report and have to look up every other word. :sweat_smile:

To be fair, I got the gist of it without looking anything up just by seeing 警報, a lot of 風, and at the end 注意. But I understood basically none of the specifics before looking everything up.

I’m having some trouble with female speech, specifically when a sentence ends with の. In male speech it would almost always be a question, but with female speech it could either be a question or a statement. Add in the whole じゃないの construct where sometimes people says things negative to mean the positive and it can get confusing. Given that the book does occasionally use question marks, should I assume that dialog ending in a period is a statement unless it’s obvious that it’s a question?

For example, on page 94 of the blue book:

So the context is that the weather report said the weather was going to be dangerous with wind gusts and stuff like that. Then Kiki can see the ocean, says「あんなに人が裸で遊んでるじゃないの」and then says that the weather report was mistaken.

I assume Kiki isn’t going to a nude beach, so based on that「あんなに人が裸で遊んでるじゃないの」would mean “it’s not like people are playing on the beach nude” (a statement), but that’s not exactly a convincing reason to say that the weather report is wrong. Of course, Kiki is probably trying to justify it to herself so she can still go to the beach.

In order to figure this part out, you have to remember that Kiki had never been to a beach before. As evidenced by オソノさん needing to explain what happened to the town and gifting her bathing suit to Kiki.

Taking this in mind, the warning Kiki and Jiji hear on the radio goes as follows 「それでは特別警報を繰り返します。本日コリコ地方の海上に、俗に海坊主風と呼ばれている突風がふくおそれがあります。この風はこの季節に突然現れ、大暴れするというので、こんな名前が付いています。海水浴にお出かけの方はくれぐれもご注意願います。」

Just to paraphrase in English: This is a recurring warning. Today at sea in the Koriko area, there’s a chance of strong gusts by the infamous Umibozu winds. These winds were named as such because during this season they suddenly come and violently blow. People who have come out for sea bathing please take special care.

The reason why Kiki believes the warning was mistaken is because when she arrives to the beach, she doesn’t see anyone naked because you get naked when bathing (水浴). Since she hasn’t idea what she should be seeing her expectations trick her into thinking that everything is on the up and up despite Jiji’s weariness.

So, in essence, your interpretation of 「あんなに人が裸で遊んでるじゃないの」is somewhat correct; it is a statement but also the reason why she feels the weather warning was incorrect. 「ほら、海が見えてきたでしょ。あんなに人が遊んでるじゃないの。天気予報の間違いですよう。」–> See? We can see the beach from here. People aren’t running around playing naked [because they were also bathing in the sea (at some point)], so the weather forecast is mistaken.

That’s how I interpreted it. Hopefully that helps you understand.

1 Like

That does clear it up, thank you! I did catch that the one definition of 海水浴 was “sea bathing”, but didn’t really connect that with how you’d be naked when you do 水浴.

1 Like

It glazed past that too when I read that passage. So I took the time to read more about sea bathing to find that it’s different than playing or swimming in the ocean. In Japanese it may be synonymous, but from Kiki’s perspective, she most likely heard bathing and made an assumption.


I don’t believe this is correct. 海水浴 is just visiting the ocean:
海に行って泳いだり、日光浴をしたりすること。 (Go to the ocean and swim, sunbathe, etc.)

I think that Kiki is just using 裸 loosely to mean describe people wearing swimsuits.


I’m pretty sure that this is intended to be: There are so many underdressed people (aren’t there)?


I believe you may be right. The goo 和英辞書 gives a completely different definition for 海水浴 than the 国語辞書, which led me to misunderstand because swimming is a more common term and doesn’t include the act of sunbathing.

in goo doesn’t give a clear cut definition to what you’re referring to, though I have heard people used it for people scantily dressed men or women…(a google images search does confirm this).

Perhaps the presence of beach-goers gives her the impression the report was false?

So now we’re back to my original problem about how to tell when じゃないの is a statement or a question. It can be so hard to figure out.

Regarding your translation, I can understand how someone might use the term naked (in English) about someone who isn’t truly naked, and it sounds like you’re saying 裸 can be used in that way as well. But isn’t it still possible that Kiki didn’t know the word 海水浴 and simply thought it meant 水浴 in the 海 (which implies being 裸), as @LucasDesu originally alluded to?

Also, with your translation, can you explain how Kiki comes to the conclusion that the weather forecast was wrong?