魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 6

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Starting date: February 25th
Finishing date: March 17th

:arrow_down: Start of the Repeat Club Discussion


Vocab Sheet: Original Club

  • キキ - a young witch
  • ジジ - Kiki’s black cat (黒猫)
  • とんぼ - a boy about Kiki’s age, and member of the flight research club

Discussion guidelines:

  • Please use spoiler tags - [spoiler]like this![/spoiler] - where appropriate; anything from later chapters or the anime, and any major or interesting information from this chapter.

  • When asking for help, search the thread before posting to see if your question has already been asked, and write out the relevant text so that others can find your question (don’t hide Japanese text behind spoiler tags).

  • 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.


As usual, the first page of this chapter seems quite difficult for me.

What did Kiki do with her mother’s broken broom? ほうきの房を結びつける… tied it with some giant butterbur? Or maybe the broom is made of giant butterbur (which Wikipedia says is a vegetable but maybe it’s also a kind of wood), and she just tied it back together?

And then what’s with the 「かあさんとはんぶん、はんぶん」she says to herself? I know はんぶん is half, and no doubt refers to the broken broom somehow, but…?

Finally, the last line on p. 124 (red book) is baffling to me. From context I think it’s something about how she finds the broken broom comforting and she’s worried (reluctant?) to throw it away, but that’s mostly a guess.

Not sure what a “giant butterbur” is or where you got that from. :joy:
EDIT: Oh, do you have the version with furigana? I think you misread, because it’s ふ, not ふ.

I’m pretty sure 房 (ふさ) is referring to the bristly part of the broom (can’t think of a better word for it). The definition on jisho isn’t particularly helpful. But I’m pretty sure that’s the meaning from the context here and in the last chapter, and here is a Japanese definition that I think supports this:

So the sentence is saying that Kiki is taking the bristly part from her mom’s broken broom and attaching it to the new broom.

You probably already made the connection with the previous part of the explanation. But in case not, Kiki is just saying that this half of the new broom is her mom’s half. She’s probably saying this to reassure herself.


My turn for a question. Page 113 blue book, right before the first break.


My question is basically… huh? I’m not really following this. From the previous dialog it sounds like townspeople are being friendly/playful now. So first Kiki thinks that she’s a little relieved. But other than that I’m not really understanding anything here.

Sheesh. 僕だバカです。 Especially since that word came up earlier in the book and I read it correctly then. But you’re right, I totally blew it. And OMG, everything makes so much more sense now! Thank you! :smiley:

OK, let me see if I can be of any help at all. So Kiki is thinking:


“I’m somehow relieved.”


I’m not sure what ように is doing here, but I read this as something like “before it was like they were blackly (?) displeased (とがった) to see me fly”


“indeed, they looked at me like a bad witch”


Kiki thought (deeply).


“That they would grow fond of me when I’m bad at it (flying), is an odd thing.”


“It’s like (what) my mother had known (become aware of).”

All a bit rough, and I’m probably missing a few things myself. But maybe something in there will be useful.


OK, here’s a simple question: in the first line of p. 128 (red book), the artist on the phone says: あしたお昼ごろ、とりにきてね。 I think she’s saying, tomorrow around noon, come to my place. But what is this とり? I really don’t think she’s saying “come to the bird”… :stuck_out_tongue:

It draws from 取りに来る, meaning “to come for”

So something like, “Come and get it around noon tomorrow”

(sorry I don’t have the context in front of me so my translation is a bit of a guess^^)


Ah yes, I think you’ve got it exactly. One of those places where the meaning would be so much clearer with more kanji! :slight_smile: Thanks for the help.


I was thinking that playing along with this book club would be great practice, but if anything, it’s actually made me less confident, and perhaps even less interested in learning Japanese.

I feel like every single sentence is a puzzle with no clear explanation. Even those who are able to understand it are still guessing at what the true meaning is. Grammar just seems like a bunch of nuances that you would actually need to be a native speaker in order to understand.

For a language that requires such rigidity and forwardness, there is a lot of guessing as to what things mean.

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Aw =(

Kiki is no easy feat, intermediate book club members have commented on how our book seemed harder than theirs at one point, so don’t let it kill your motivation! The abundance of kana in place of kanji tends to make things more confusing – it’s really all about finding a level of reading practice that’s suited to where you are in your studies, but not only that, it’s about finding something that interests you! Otherwise it’ll just feel like a demotivating chore

Have you checked out the Yotsubato reading club? That might serve as good practice in place of Kiki with an active discussion base – the intermediate book club just started a new book this week too, it’s a collection of short stories with varying levels of difficulty, so maybe you’d enjoy that more too

Regardless, don’t let this book kill your confidence, it’s not an easy book by any means so don’t feel like you’re lacking! Find something you want to read that is challenging, but not too challenging to the point where it makes you feel like you don’t know anything. Any amount of progress is still progress, it’ll get better with time :slightly_smiling_face:


It sorry to hear that. Language by no means is a hard science. If native speakers could understand each other 100% there wouldn’t ever be misunderstandings or misinterpretations about what the other person actually meant. In reality all languages are a negotiation of how to interpret the words of the one speaking as much as it’s understanding how to adeptly put one’s own thoughts (feelings, etc) into words that can somewhat make sense to the listener.

I can attest personally how frustrating it can get, especially when it’s not a book, but a conversation you have to interpret. Whether or not you continue with this club or choose to do something different, don’t take this hit at your confidence as a loss, but rather an awareness of where you need to focus on to improve.

Wish you the best!


On p. 132 (red book) the first line, describing how Tonbo is taking something out of his bag, includes the phrase こたりのもしないで. I’m completely stumped on this one (except that the しないで probably means without doing something). Any ideas?

EDIT: I think I got it, or nearly so. The full phrase (which I should have included right away) is 相変わらずにこりともしないで. I had thought に here was a particle, but it’s not; the word here is にこり, smile/grin.

So I think we have either “as usual, without a smile” or “without his usual smile” — probably the latter. What do you think?

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OK, one more (for today! :slight_smile: ). Still on p. 132 (red book), Tanbo says:


I think I have the first part (before ね): “If it seems like a wind will blow you somewhere, pull hard on the rope…” But I don’t understand the rest of it. きかす can mean “to inform about,” but I don’t see how that helps here.

I’m not quite up to this yet, but I’ll see if I can answer when I get there.

In the meantime I’m trying to figure out this from page 118 of the blue book:

I assume Kiki is saying that her friend Tonbo figured out a good way of transporting the painting. But I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out the 絵を運びいいように part. Anyone know how to break this down?

When I read it at first, I thought it was the former, but I wasn’t that confident in this. However, I just finished this section and the last line is 「とんぼさんは、初めて嬉しそうに白い歯を見せて笑いました。」. Based on this I’m now pretty confident that it is the former: “as usual, without a smile”.

Side comment: Apparently とんぼ means dragonfly, so that’s cool and somewhat relevant to his character’s personality.

I agree with your translation of the first part, but unfortunately I’m also stumped on the second part. Hopefully someone else can help out.

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ように can mean “so that” (i.e. “in such a way that”). 運び is the noun form of 運ぶ, so 絵を運び is basically “the carrying of the painting.” So it all comes down to literally “He has (for me) a plan such that the carrying of the painting will be good.” Or more naturally, pretty much what you guessed — he’s figured out a good way to carry the painting.


OK, so I’m confused about the plan here. I mean, I get what it is (there’s a great illustration in the red book): tie hydrogen (!) balloons to the picture, and tow that on a rope from the broom.

But I don’t really get how this helps. The concern was that the low-quality broom she’s riding bucks a lot, especially in the wind. Several times Kiki is told (or says) that in case of wind, she should pull on the rope. How does that help? I’d think that big painting (not to mention bunch of balloons) would act like a kite, and just pull her all over the place.

One thing I think I just got: When Tonbo originally suggested お散歩方式, I thought he was telling Kiki she should just walk with the painting. Seemed like a sensible solution for such a fragile and irreplaceable item, if maybe a bit anticlimactic. :slight_smile: But now I think 散歩 must also be the term for walking a dog… the idea being that we’re putting the picture on a leash, and “walking” it like a dog.


I also wondered at first if he was telling her to just walk the painting, even though that clearly ended up not being the case. Anyway, I think the idea is that the balloons would make the painting lighter. This would theoretically make the painting easier for Kiki to handle (by pulling on the strings). And based on the end of this part, Kiki believes (or is just saying to reassure the artist) that the balloons will make it so the painting can move freely on its own, implying that it won’t just fall and break if it gets caught in a gust of wind (at least that’s how I took it).

Of course, it’s not like Tonbo has proven himself. You could very well end up being right and this could be another disaster.

By the way, can you post a picture of the plan? I’d love to see it!

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Sure thing: https://i.imgur.com/iDFSfM0.png