Week 1: 小川未明童話集 - Ogawa Mimei’s Collection of Children’s Stories

Reading through this takes a lot longer than I initially expected. :sweat_smile: Took me about 15-20 minutes to reach the dialogue, where they’re talking about the weather. :upside_down_face:

It’s a bit daunting, but I’m aiming to finish on time, and to have some time left to also understand what’s going on. Hopefully. :grimacing:


I’m with you … it’s definitely harder to read…but still wondering why we don’t have a vocab sheet for this club…(feel like I’m missing something)…would sometimes be a bit faster :slight_smile:

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Second the request for a vocab sheet! Would happily contribute to filling it out.


I can set up a Google Sheets for vocab for those who are interested.



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Currently-unofficial Now-official vocab list.

I’ve added most words for the first story, and I’ve created tabs for other weeks. It’ll be up to anyone interested in seeing it populated to add words for later weeks!


prepopulated even!!! You are a rockstar! Maybe I will be able to keep up with this book club after all…at least keeping up with the other one for sure :slight_smile:


It was a bit difficult to get into at first. Commas keep popping up in places that don’t make sense to me and I’m not used to the old-timey/polite style. Thankfully there has been an explosion of activity in this thread, so I could just look up all the difficult stuff here, hehe :grin: I’d forgotten how active the official book club picks are!


Thank you for mentioning the commas! I’ve been trying to make sense of Japanese commas for ages. Is there any logic behind them that I just haven’t grasped yet, or are they used completely randomly, where the narrator wants to take a breath?


In my experience, this…

Though I have noticed that some authors like to use them to separate different things that modify the same noun:


Which is super counterintuitive for me, because I am used to commas indicating the end of a clause.


I feel like this is a lot more active than Hanako was - I’d imagine for quite a few people being one of their first exposures to prose writing (for me my main exposure has been going through 時をかける少女 and a lot of the stuff I learned from that has helped with this - though there’s certainly been some strange grammar in any case)

Often I see them breaking up clauses (like we do in English), to help make clearer where logical breaks in the sentence are. Can help you to work out what’s modifying what etc. I think overall the punctuation is less grammatically emphasised than in English, so it’s more loose and a stylistic choice overall


I was the one who was missing something :sweat_smile: I haven’t run a Beginner Book Club in ages and totally forgot that vocab sheets are a thing…
Millions of thanks to @ChristopherFritz for providing such an excellent sheet! I’ll add the link to the OP in a minute.


sounds like you’re already level 60 - lite :wink:
don’t need no stinkin’ vocab sheets


I found the story being read out loud by a NHK reader. You will find mostly your answer in there(it has Japanese subtitles too).

  • inclusion sentence
  • seperating modifying nouns
  • easier to read (too many same letters like Kanji and Hiragana can confuse ad even produce new not existing words, especially if a わ is hitting on the particle は)
  • logical breaks and breaking up clauses.
  • Making it more fluent to read and correct pause, so the flow of Japanese can stay the same

However, in Japanese comma are not needed as far as I know. So it is completely up to the person himself, what is good and what not.


so been super stuck…but after quite a bit of fiddling around finally figured out a sentence with some help from a native speaker…(doesn’t help I don’t know shogi - special vocab)…

Will see if I can get through this story but it’s not looking good for me…hopefully it’s just this one story…


don’t know if this was in the list of vocab but this little bit was helpful:
specifically means

to drop lose a strong piece (strong is implied)
this is the one that made me understand what it meant…from weblio:

The other one that gave me trouble

play without a handicap
don’t have a proper reference and haven’t searched everywhere but if you use the kanji
当たり前に差す it does make sense.

What I ended up with (not pretty and not great English was this (if it helps anyone):

At first, the old man’s way of playing was much stronger (than the other young soldier) and he dropped his strong pieces but finally playing normally he was defeated as much as he won.

Apologies if this was already clarified above somewhere and I missed it…but wanted to capture it while it was still fresh in my mind.


Thank you for sharing that! It makes a lot of sense. I had sort of skipped that sentence because I thought I had gotten the gist of it (and I had given up on the Shogi terms), but I had interpreted the あたりまえ part as the old man playing in an “obvious” (predictable) way, but that was just a creative translation on my part. It makes much more sense that playing あたりまえ means playing without a handicap.


Well, here is my take for you. Actually, I never do this stuff without asking a native speaker before, however I will try my best. Every of your assumptions are basically correct (In my point of view) but here is some more indepth.
First of all.
Here a small part from the Japanese Wikipedia of 将棋
棋力に差があるとき、その差に応じて上位者側の駒の一部を盤上から取り除いた状態で開始する。これを 駒落ち (こまおち)という。取り除かれた駒は、対局が終わるまで使用することはない。駒を落とした側の対局者を 上手 (うわて)、落とされた側を 下手 (したて)という。[振り駒]は行わず、上手から指し始める。
which basically says (Please do not mind my bad english, as I am not a native person)

In order to response if there is a difference in players ability at shogi, the game will start with a part being removed from the higher players figures. This is being called コマ落ち。The removed figures are not being allowed to being used in the whole game(until the end). The stronger shogi player is being called 上手 starting with a fallen piece (The one who 落とす), the other one 下手 (The one who is doing 落とされた) .振り駒 is a term to decide who is starting first, they simply seem to let a tile drop and look which side it is fallen. They do not do this, the better player just starts. I confirmed everything in a video I watched about shougi. (If you are interesting, the first minute will show you basically what I explained.

当たり前 has two meanings actually (If you look up in a Japanese - Japanese dictionary, I highly recommend 三省堂 スーパー大辞林)

  1. だれが考えてもそうであるべきだと思うこと。当然なこと。
  2. 普通と変わっていない・こと(さま)。
  1. (Like everyone should think. It is obvious)
  2. (Like always, No change to normal. Can be a thing(action) or a person)

Both of them are helping, to get a broader view on that word, I hope. It is not just “obvious”. Together it comes pretty easily together, I do think.

Edit: I wanted to respond to shuly post. However I do post just rarely and made a mistake. My bad. Though, I see you read it. So there is no need of correction, haha.


I read the chapter last week - couple paragraphs a day with intention to post questions this week. But now I am finding that re-reading text - almost as hard as reading it for the first time. This is because I remember only about 5% of new vocab, mostly kanji. Not even one of complex phrases stuck to my memory. I am questioning the whole benefit of the exercise.
I am certainly getting more skilled and better equipped for sentence mining and it is fun to be able to recognise kanji/grammar point learned somewhere else.
What is everybody’s expectation about retaining new material from reading only without Anki etc.?


Personally I wouldn’t count on it happening all that quickly - you’ll get the most high frequency stuff relatively fast, but really a lot of things are only going to cement themselves after a lot of repetitions (and a lot more than you might otherwise need were you using an SRS system) and the trouble is that you can’t really tell how long it’s going to be before you see a word again. It’ll probably take a lot of reading for more than the highest frequency stuff to start sticking - it’s doable but there are better ways

One thing you can do if you don’t feel like you have enough vocabulary for full sentence mining yet is to just take single vocab items and make a card for them (perhaps including the sentence even if you don’t fully understand it yet) - alternatively you can look for example sentences containing the word through a variety of means (tatoeba is a useful website for this). Single vocab items make it much easier to pick up words from a text and gain more use out of it, but a downside is that you don’t see the use in context when you review. I don’t think this is too big a deal if you’re encountering it again in your reading anyway, plus you can always add a sentence card for that vocab later if you find a more appropriate example sentence

Reading a lot will do good, but I think really an SRS will help with retaining stuff long enough that you’ll remember it next time it comes up in your reading and that’s what will help truly cement it. Of course, this is all just my opinion, so feel free to do what you’d like - I’m no expert here


Not worrying about anki…just strictly speaking this story is outright difficult! Not just because of the fancy literary writing, but the technical shogi speech as well. I am surprised to see quite a few N1 grammar points (they always pop up)…but just surprised how many I’ve seen for a BBC selection.

The benefit of the exercise is to learn Japanese and practice! That said…

I may end up dropping this one…I’m still working through but when the page count doubles, might drown…won’t be the first book club I will have walked away from and probably not the last. If something is too difficult (and it’s NOT fun)…then put it away and come back to it. When I first tried to read, found just about everything super difficult…

When I first started learning … went out and bought a bunch of stuff I wanted to read but no way on earth was going to get through it…so much depends on exposure to the language and grammar. It’s one thing to look up the words but w/o the grammar constructs then how they relate and everything it just is truly completely different than English…(as anyone will tell you - the first book you read in Japanese will be like hiking up an icy mountain…but when you finish it’s pretty great!)

If this one is too hard, take a look at the ABBC or other selections from this BBC. The current ABBC book is actually really good and I’m enjoying it, in that while I don’t know all the vocab I know enough its enjoyable. Also these book clubs stay around so you can always go back and pick up something that was read before and read it on your own, using the vocab lists and resources that are here.

I will say if I was level 19, there’s no way I’d continue to try this one… just my 2c

Thank you so much for explaining this a little better…all I’ve ever heard is shogi is like chess…but all this leads me to believe while it may be similar, it has some big differences.

Yup…very true…if there’s something you want to retain then add it to an anki deck or whatever and work on it…could even make good old flash cards if you wanted to. For me personally words that stick tend to jump out as rare or have some special meaning personally, otherwise just need to see it over and over and over and over again…languages take a lot of work!

If this book club is too hard but you are still interested in the story, then just go slower than everyone…there’s no harm in that and even if you end up a month behind, who cares…you are learning and moving forward. But if you are miserable and stressed and it feels like work…put it away and pick up a different BC… use one of the previous ones or jump into one of the on going ABBC or spin off clubs… からかう上手の高木さん is actually really entertaining and not breaking my brain if you want something that shouldn’t feel to painful. (if you are into that kind of story)…

For me…will see where I end up landing… still not finished with this story…(thinking about finishing this one and maybe the next)…but honestly will probably stop this if it continues as this is a bit much for me right now (already reading 4 other books - albeit slowly)