魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 1


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Starting date: December 10th
Finishing date: December 16th

Vocabulary List

Vocab Spreadsheet

魔女の宅急便 Vocab

Characters in This Chapter

  • キキ - a young witch
  • コキリ - Kiki’s mother (a witch)
  • オキノ - Kiki’s father (non-magical)

Chapter Summary

Ch 1 Summary

Ch 1. The beginning of the story (provided by @kteale)
At first glance a small town appears ordinary, but on closer inspection there are things which are not so ordinary. For one, there are silver bells hanging at the top of tall trees which ring when a girl named Kiki catches them with her feet. Looking into Kiki’s house, which has a sign advertising medicine for sneezing, we find an unusual decoration: two wooden brooms hanging on a wall.
From the living room we hear the voices of Kiki in conversation with her mother Kokiri, a witch, and her father Okino, who researches folklore. Kokiri is anxious that Kiki decide on a departure date, following a tradition in which young witches leave home at age 13, find a town without any witches to live in, and make their own way in the world. This important tradition ensures the continued survival of witches in modern times, despite their dwindling numbers and weakened powers of witchcraft.
Since Kiki decided she wanted to become a witch three years earlier, Kokiri has taught how her to grow medicinal herbs and make sneezing medicine, and how to fly. Kiki can fly well but is easily distracted and bumps into things, hence Kokiri’s installation of bells in the treetops. However, Kiki shows little aptitude for herbal medicine.
Kiki has grown up with a small black cat named Jiji, and they share a special ability to communicate.

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.

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魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Home Thread - Beginner's Book Club
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Home Thread - Beginner's Book Club

sits down, patiently waiting to read Kiki


Got my copy today, so I started reading it already! Three pages in and it’s already quite challenging! But it feels like a reasonable challenge. Really glad we picked this one!


My first question, I can’t figure this sentence out:

page 13: “魔女のはしくれです” . What is that word in the middle?? I feel like I’m misunderstanding something but idk :sweat_smile:


I’m so glad I started brushing up my grammar in preperation for this, but I’m still going to have a million questions…

It’s はしくれ.
端くれ(はしくれ)- http://jisho.org/word/端くれ


Oooh. I did see that word when I searched but I didn’t really think it made sense in the context? What is she trying to express with it?


I think it means ‘I’m (or she’s) a bit of a witch’ I found this example in a jap/jap dictionary
芸術家の端くれである (げいじゅつかのはしくれ。。)which means to be a bit of an artist. I think はしくれ is a humble usage word.


I agree. If it helps, I think a little more natural English would be “I am a witch of sorts [you know]”. The literal translation would be “I am a witch,” but the はしくれ downplays it and from the context you can tell she’s saying it with some sass.


Thank you! That makes much more sense.


Interesting side note.
“Takkyuubin” is actually a word created by Yamato Unyu (Yamato Transport, Co., Ltd.) when they started their new service, door-to-door home delivery. Yamato uses black cats (a mother cat carrying a kitten in her mouth) as its trademark, and has a catch phrase, “Black Cat Yamato’s Takkyuubin”. Yamato sponsored the movie, though there was a controversy inside the company at first. Ms. Kadono, the author of the original book, used the word “Takkyuubin”, without permission from Yamato, and they were unhappy about it. However, people loved the movie, and it helped Yamato’s company image, so everybody was happy in the end."


I’m starting a day early, and I have the blue book with no furigana. What have I done ;__; The first page of CH 1 (page 7) is not too bad, but page 8 is killing me. It’s a very slow process… There are so many て-forms. I think I’ll be really good at て-form after this. (Also really good at looking up kanji I have no furigana for…) I’m really excited to hear how other people find the chapter once everyone starts reading!!


Decided to start early as well, definitely feeling underprepared :sweat_smile:

Only on the second sentence and I’m already I’m a little confused!「この町は南ゆっくりさがる坂の町で」I am reading as roughly meaning “This town rested along the south slope,” but what does「の町で」communicate? It makes me thing “This town rested along the south slope of the town” but that doesn’t make much sense. Feels like I’m missing something.


I love the movie so much, so I’m really stoked that we’re reading this one next. Unfortunately, my Japanese is so awful I spent five hours trying to decode the first sentence.

I think what it says is something along the lines of
Somewhere between the deep forest and the gently sloping grassy hills, there is a small town.
Is that anywhere close to correct?

I’m also having a lot of trouble with the second sentence.
この町は I think is this town.
南へゆっくりさがるが坂のまちで、Is what is messing me up. I know that 南 is south and I think the へ is meant to be the particle that indicates distance or direction, but I simply cannot parse the next part. The thing I’m having the most trouble with is parsing where one word ends and the next begins. I’m not even sure how to look this phrase up.

As dogs above me said, it makes sense to me that it means “the town rested along the south slope”

Thanks to the vocabulary list I can recognize some of the words here, but there are still more that I don’t really understand.
When I looked up がならん the only thing I could find on Jisho was “to scream” and somehow I don’t know if that makes sense in context?
But I put the whole phrase in and found 並ぶ since it looks like this is the te form of that verb I think it reads something like
"The houses with the burnt pan colored roofs stand in a row."

“Somewhere between the deep forests and the gently sloping grassy hills there is a small town. In this town all the houses sit in a row at the foot of the hill with their burnt pan colored roofs.”

This is going to take me a really long time, but I’m really happy we have the chance to do this.


well it is december 10 in australia hahaha
i’m going to start it soon :slight_smile:


I studied the first chapter pretty thoroughly last month after I picked up a copy of Kiki in Japan. :slight_smile: Hope I can help in some way.


よし! Here’s my take on it:

First sentence: あるところに、深い森となだらか草山にはさまれて、小さな町がありました。

ある = exist
ところ = place
に = at/in
–>“In an existing place”

深い森 = deep/thick woods
と = and
なだらか = gently sloping
草山 = hill
に = by
はさまれて (te-form of 挟む/はさむ) = on either side/between
–>“with thick woods and a gently sloping hill on either side” or “between thick woods and a gently sloping hill”

小さな町 = small town
がありました = there was/existed
–>“there was a small town”

Altogether contextual interpretation: “In a certain place, there existed a small town between a deep forest and a gently sloping hill.”

Second sentence: この町は南へゆっくりさがる坂のまちで、こげたパンのような色の小さな屋根がならんでいます。

この町は = this town
南へ = towards the south
ゆっくり = gradually
さがる = descending/sloping
坂のまち = “hilly” town
で = at
–> “at this town with hills gradually sloping to the south”

こげた = burnt/charred
パン = bread
の = modifying noun
ような = like/similar to
色 = color
の = modifying noun
小さな = small
屋根 = roof
が = subject marker
ならんでいます = lined up (comes from te-form of 並ぶ/ならぶ)
–>“small roofs with the color of charred bread lined up”

Altogether contextual interpretation: “At this town with its hills rolling gently to the south, small roofs the colored of charred bread were lined up.”


This is extremely helpful, thank you so much!


This town was a slowly declining (sagging, falling) hill town…

Your translation of the second sentence about the rooftops is perfect I think!

この町はゆっくりさがる坂の町で, こげたパンのような色の小さな屋根がならんでいます
This town was on a gently falling hill, its little rooftops like burnt bread lined up in a row.

(I added the ‘on’ and the ‘in a row’)


And almost in the exact center of the town, the station,

(and) huddled together in a somewhat removed spot,

(there is) a town hall, a police department, a fire department, a school.

This town was like any ordinary town you might see anywhere.

However, if you look a little carefully,

there’s something you can’t really see in an ordinary town.

( One guess what that extraordinary thing is :wink: )


Oh. Oh! Pain not Pan.
It didn’t even occur to me that the loan word would be from French and not English. This is embarrassing. I took French in high school. I should have gotten that. Okay, burnt bread makes more sense than a burnt pan for roof top color anyway.

Thanks so much with the help on the first half of the sentence as well. Probably should have recognized さがる, to be honest.