JBC's 秋の牢獄 (Autumn Prison) Discussion Thread


I think writing out translations would be useful because it forces to analyze everything and translate every grammatical nuance. So when you go back to read it again I bet it would be very well cemented in your mind.

I don’t do this though because I have not enough time, and am lazy haha.

I’m also trying to ‘think in Japanese’, Like understand it without translating it to English. This was definitely hard to do at first but I’ve been doing so much reading in Japanese for the last 15 weeks that I’m finally getting to that point. I took an extensive reading class and the rules are reading with out looking up any words, and the words you don’t know you skip. But this only works when you know, I think it was 98 or 90% of the words so that the words you don’t know are learned through context or picture. And I did that for 200 minutes every week on top reading grammar materiel and recently the current novel. Because of that I think graded readers work best for this method, but not the novel we’re reading now.

At first I would look every little thing to be exact, but I actually like the approach of just extensively reading. I’m kinda of doing something in the middle with the current book. But I read a little bit of the next book and it seems super easy(at least the first story was) I could read that with the extensive reading approach, it was very much like a graded reader to me.

But I haven’t gotten to these chapters yet, so after I do I’ll let you know know what I think about your translation. I did read a little and up until the ‘I turned my feet part’ and I think your translation is spot on!


I like to try and read without looking things up, until i get to a passage where i know less than 80% of the vocab. then i look up only enough to understand. My goal is to be able to read, not translate, so for me an English translation would actually be harmful.

But ultimately you should try a couple of different methods until you find what works for you.


I’m not sure what your ultimate goal is with Japanese, but translating what one reads takes away from building a foundation that is supported without the interference of one’s native language. The grammar translation method you’re describing has very little theoretical support for acquisition and application of the target language because learners rely so heavily on their own native language as a basis to understand the target language. This is especially difficult with distant languages such as English and Japanese. So to answer your question without further derailing this thread, no. I avoid translating things en masse as much as possible.


I think translating a sentence is something you should eventually try to avoid. However, translating a paragraph, or a chapter is OK.

And it doesn’t have to be a direct translation. Just interpretation.


In chapter 3 of part 2 (pg. 71 in my edition) after the main character has found out that there is no running water in this house that he is in, he says “あの存在が人間だったならば、だが.” I am really confused by the “ならば、だが” portion. To me this reads as “If that being was human then, but.” Any ideas about how to make it more sensible? My one guess is that there are just words being left out like “If that being was human, he would not live like this, but it seems like he does” or something like that. But that seems like a stretch to me.


Just fyi, I am making a memrise deck of all the words I don’t know as I go along, so if anyone wants to give it a look, feel free to. I realize Polv has also made one, but I know a lot less words than Polv, so I am including all the extra ones that I don’t know in mine.


Sorry about the delay in response. I had to confirm with some others before answering but this is a stylistic effect done by the author to bring drama and intrigue into the story. The だが refers to the sentence the precedes this sentence. In other words, the previous sentence is supposed come after (like this):

あの存在が人間だったならば、だが (翁の面の男はその水を飲んでいたのだろう)。

That old man wearing the mask probably drank water if he were human…(however the narrator is doubtful).

I hope that helps.


That makes sense. Thanks!


Looks like we’re getting into the meat of this next story! Starting this week chapters 4, 5, & 6


Yep. And - like Autumn Prison - it looks like we’re getting straight into things. I actually haven’t finished last week’s reading yet, but it seems like - while this is a separate story - we may be getting something quite familiar in its theme…

Kind of related to that, what do people think is the significance of autumn in the first story? The writing is generally rather sparse with little description, yet the fact it’s autumn is mentioned several times and, of course, gives the story its name. Any connection to what Ai and the others experienced?


I think autumn is very symbolic. Autumn is like sunset of the year, sunset of life.
For most people late autumn is the most depressing time of the year and it matches with general gloom and despair of the last part of the story.

They all say, that they don’t know what to expect from 北風伯爵, but deep in their hearts they know that there is no tomorrow for them. They know that 北風伯爵 will bring them only oblivion and neverending winter.


You probably didn’t know this because you are fairly new to our format, but we generally avoid discussing plot details of sections which we in the process reading. If there are any details you don’t understand, then you’re clear to ask at any time.


Oh ok sorry. My bad.


It’s no biggie. I’m mentioning it because it’s quite likely that no one will answer until the end of the week because they haven’t read that far yet. Sounds like a pretty good discussion question to talk about on Sunday, anyway.


So…how’s everyone getting on?

I have to admit, I’m finding this a little more difficult than 秋の牢獄. I think the lack of interactions with other characters so far are partly to blame - easier to understand when there’s dialogue, I find. Also, I’m still a bit behind - mainly due to finally getting my hands on a Switch! - but hopefully going to catch up this week.

We talked a lot before about how you’d react if you were in Ai’s situation - what about if you were this guy? He seems to be taking things fairly passively as well. Or at least that’s what I thought at first, until I started to think what would I do? And then wondered what could you do? Interesting to compare this so far to 秋の牢獄. Both main characters trapped, both handling things - initially at least - in a fairly passive way. However, while Ai - ultimately (and ignoring the threat of old 伯爵) - found herself stuck in a world of plenty, our new guy is being forced to endure a pretty spartan existence.

Also, I do rather love the kanji for faucet used here: 蛇口。Very visual.


I’m also behind >.> I’m going to start reading a chapter a day now that classes have ended and I shoud be able to catch up.

But as I read this story I thought it sounded familiar…that’s because it was, it’s also listed on the same site we found autumn prison. https://japaneselevelup.com/4-supernatural-stories-that-you-wouldnt-mind-experiencing-yourself/

As is the third book. Sorry for not noticing and mentioning this early >.> I agree this book is a bit more difficult than autmn prison, I’m not sure if the description can help anymore since you guys are well into the book, but :sweat_smile:


Thank you for this post @riccyjay

I suspected that some people were behind since activity on this thread has gone down to nothing. Perhaps we should add a poll to see if we should adjust the pacing during this month due to the holidays and such.

So how are you with the reading?

  • I’m behind. Let’s adjust the reading schedule.
  • I’m behind, but I’ll catch up later so adjusting the schedule is unnecessary.
  • I’m caught up, but I don’t mind adjusting the reading schedule.
  • I’m caught up. Let’s not change anything.
  • Caught up or not, I don’t really care what we do to the schedule.

0 voters

I agree that the bar has been risen with this story due to the abstract nature of the plot. The vocabulary and lack of dialogue also make it a bit of a difficult read. But I’ve been keeping up because I’ve been setting aside time to read (so fewer distractions).

If I were in this guy’s shoes, I would be sitting at home living my normal life. My mama told me not to talk to strangers, so when faced with entering a masked stranger’s house, I would’ve bee-lined it home especially if he’s saying he’s been expecting me…With that aside, if I couldn’t escape due to some weird force dragging me in. I’d be pretty frustrated. At least in Ai’s case, she could explore Japan. This guy can even leave the premises of this dwelling. I would get pretty creative real quick, so I could escape, if that were possible. I also have the feeling it’s like how @NickNickovich said about Autumn Prison, that perhaps the main character is already dead and is unaware of this fact. The place that he is dwelling in is like purgatory or hell or something along those lines. If that’s a possibility, then there’s nothing I could do.


That’s really interesting. I’m not the biggest fan of Jalup as a site due to its confusing layout, but having read a few of that guy’s recommendations for books, I have to say he does seem pretty good at evaluating the difficulty of things. (Looks like the third story in this collection will be closer to the second than the first.)

Seems like our optimum reading level would probably be things he rates as two stars. This is thinking way down the line, but maybe something to keep in mind when we choose the next, next book.

@LucasDesu: I see the thinking behind the ‘character is dead’ idea, but I’m not sure yet that’s what’s supposed to be going on. I definitely agree that these places have a very purgatory-ish feeling to them - but what’s on the other side feels rather more open to me. I feel like they (or 秋の牢獄 at least) may be at least partly a kind of rumination on the emptiness of the characters’ lives and consumption. Ai and friends ended up having everything they wanted, and yet time still felt empty to them in the end. A little like the last chapter of A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, if anyone else has read that…

Anyway, it’s interesting that even though we have three separate stories - having had a quick look at the synopsis of story 3 - they do seem to be united in similar themes and tone. Makes the whole thing feel like a more complete work.


蛇口 is great. I also loved 節々. I think I would probably be enjoying myself to be honest, if I were this guy. At first I might be creeped out by that guy turning to vapor, but after that, being in a crazy new place that transports you to different areas and has fruit trees and wooden floors sounds neat to me. Did you guys change your opinion about 翁の面の男when you heard more about him from サングラスさん? Definitely changed my mind a bit. I thought it made him a much more sympathetic character for me. Before that, I had kind of thought of him as a jerk.


No, I don’t think my opinion changed about him at all. The old man still sounds like a miserable person; he forced another person to stay against their will in his place, which doesn’t sit well with me. The protagonist, thinking he was appeasing a pushy old man, had no idea what he was getting himself caught into. Hearing from the man in the sunglasses puts the situation in context, but doesn’t add sympathy points for him in my book.