Week 1 - Stories of the Japanese Prefectures (Absolute Beginners Book Club)

Welcome to 都道府県のおはなし 低学年 - Stories of the Japanese Prefectures :jp:

Week 1 - Pages 6-9

Prereading thread: Link
Week 2: Link

Want more information about this book? Stories of the Japanese Prefectures Home Thread
Want to read more books at this level? Absolute Beginner Book Club Home Thread


Discussion Guidelines :japanese_goblin:

  • Please ask questions, no matter how simple they may be! This is the Absolute Beginners Book Club, so if you have a question, chances are someone else has the same question and will be glad you asked.
  • When asking for help, please mention the page number. Also do check before posting that your question hasn’t already been asked. You can use the search function to search within the thread.
  • If you share you translation, please hide the translation so people don’t want to see it yet don’t see it accidentally. Click on the cog icon above the text entry box and select either “Blur Spoiler” or “Hide Details”.
Screen shot

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Resources :books:

  • Vocabulary sheet - we use a shared Google sheet to make a list of vocabulary in the book. Creating this sheet is a shared effort so all are welcome to contribute. If you are doing this for the first time please read the instructions on the first page. Only add words if you are reasonably sure you are right - if you are not sure then ask in the thread instead.
  • Jisho is a popular online Japanese-English dictionary.
  • ichi.moe is a tool for parsing out sentences. You can type/paste in a whole sentence and it will try and break the sentence down into its individual parts. As Japanese doesn’t use spaces between words this can be really helpful when you are first starting out. It’s also useful when you don’t recognise the conjugation of a word, or when a group of words form a set expression.
  • Deepl will translate a sentence from Japanese to English. It’s obviously not going to be right all the time, so if you want to check your translation it’s often better to ask in the thread. Having said that, it often gives a good translation, especially with more formal prose like in this book. When you know the words but can’t put them all together this can be really helpful for pointing you in the right direction.
  • How to install a Japanese keyboard - if you don’t know how to type in Japanese on your device this guide from the makers of Wanikani will help you out.

Participation poll

  • I’m reading along :+1:t3:
  • I’m planning to read but I haven’t started yet :durtle_megane:

0 voters


Had the day off work so decided to get ahead and do this week’s reading.

Favourite sentence is for my boyfriend who loves foxes: “ふわふわの毛をもつきたきつね”. ふわふわ is just too wonderful of a word, and reminds me quite a bit of saying in French “Quoi quoi” (or what what?).

I was also wondering what ラッセラー was and found this video: 青森ねぶた祭:「ラッセラー、ラッセラー」勇ましく開幕 - YouTube



What’s with the rendaku on はたけ? Is it because of the あ sound preceding it?




(はたけ) is one of those suffixes that loves to rendaku. :slight_smile:


It sure does! If you put “*ばたけ” into Jisho you get loads of examples, my favourite was this one:


Skipped the prereading thread accidentally, so I got through that, so now time to get this done.

I will be translating this as well, since the language is simple and it isn’t too long.

My translation

2 Hokkaido
Where you can happen upon wild animals

Japan’s northernost part is Hokkaido. If you look at the map on pages 2-3 in this book, you’ll see, that it’s the biggest out of the prefectures.
Hokkaido’s Furano region is spanned by lavender fields. Lavenders have many, small bluish-purple flowers. The flowers and leaves smell really good. July is the best time to see these lavender fields, the entire horizon far away is painted a beautiful bluish-purple color then.
In the nature-rich Shiretoko-peninsula of Hokkaido, lives a lot of wild animals. Even the red foxes with fluffy fur. The impressive Jezo deers, with the giant antlers on males. The small Hokkaido squirrels live in the holes on the trees.
And then there are the brown bears living on Shiretoko-peninsula. If you find yourself in front of a brown bear, do not run away or shout loudly. It will startle the bear and it will attack the person. Turn towards the bear and slowly back away, to get away.
In the ocean around shiretoko a lot of whales and seals live.

❶ Where is Hokkaido located in Jaapn?
❷ When is the best time to see the lavender fields in the furano region?
❸ Among the wild animals living on the Shiretoko-peninsula, which one has the fluffy fur?
❹ What should you do when you find a brown bear? Circle the right one.
ア While shouting loudly and scaring the bear, run away.
イ Turn towards the bear and slowly back away from it.
❺ Apart from sealions and seals, what animals live in the ocean around the Shiretoko-peninsula?

3 Aomori-prefecture
The lively Nebuta festival

In Aomori there is a famous festival in the summer. It’s the Nebuta festival.
“Rassera, Rassera”
can be heard on the night of the festival. (Not exact) They shout vigorously while carrying a doll called “Nebuta”. Festival cars go around. All around, “Haneto” are wearing variously coloured outfits. They jump up and down. Several beutifully designed “Nebuta” are carried one by one. Anyone can dress up as a “Haneto” if they want.

❶ On which days is the Nebuta festival held?
❷ What is a “Nebuta”?
ア The vigorous yells on the festival.
イ The big dolls brought on the festival cars.
ウ The variously coloured clothes.
エ The “Haneto” people dancing.

4 Iwate-prefecture
The jagged, Ria coastline (man, リアス is definitely not googleable by itself)

What’s up with the Sanriku coastline of the Iwate-prefecture? Please look at the map on pages 2-3. Do you see how jaggy it is? Such jagged coastlines are called Ria coastlines. Around the Ria coastline, the salt flow is better, and the wakame grow impressively.
In the open sea, you can catch delicious fish, that’s famous worldwide. These fishes include sea bream, horse mackarel and salmon. There’s a lot.

❶ What’s up with the Sanriku coastline?
❷ Why is the wakame around the Ria coastline growing so well?

This is a lot of fun, mostly simple, but still contains a lot of words that need to be looked up, it’s somewhat “”“scientific”“” read, I’m having a lot of fun with it.


Interesting. “Rias” is the official romanisation used for the train line that runs along the coast, but most things I’ve found referring to the coast itself use “ria”.

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Hello everyone. This is my first time posting. I am very excited to be a part of this book club (though I will have to miss the thread after this one). I am pretty new to Japanese and this is my first “real” text. I’ve just been studying with Genki otherwise, and am just about to finish Genki I.

I understood the first story pretty well, I think, even if I didn’t get all of the grammatical nuance. It was exciting to see things I had learned from Genki in the wild, like ではいけません! When I got to that sentence I was so happy when I realized I could understand it. There were some constructions I didn’t understand, but I know enough to know how to look them up, for the most part. Here is my translation:

My translation!

In northernmost Japan is Hokkaido. When you look at the map on pages 2-3 of this book, you will see that it’s the largest one of the districts.

Lavender farms spread wide across Hokkaido’s Furano district. Lots of tiny purple flowers blossom on lavender plants. A wonderful smell comes from the flowers and the leaves. In July, which is the best time to visit, everything up to the distant horizon is dyed a beautiful purple.

Lots of wild animals live on Hokkaido’s Shiretoko peninsula, which is blessed by nature. The northern fox has fluffy fur. The splendid male Hokkaido sika has huge antlers. The little Hokkaido squirrel lives in the hollows of trees.

And then there are the brown bears that live on the Shiretoko peninsula. If you happen to meet a brown bear, don’t do things like run away or cry out. If the bear is surprised, it attacks humans. Turn your body towards the bear, slowly step backwards, and sneak away in this fashion.

Whales, dolphins, seals, and many other wild animals also live in the Shiretoko sea.

Like I said, I probably missed a lot of grammatical nuance, especially with respect to verb forms. I also moved some things around to sound better in English when I was translating—but when I did my initial read-through, I tried to just take it in as Japanese and not translate it in my head.

As for what really gave me trouble:

Difficult sentences for me…
  • Sentence 6, ラベンダーばたけは七月が見ごろで、はるか地平線のかなたまで、美しい青むらさき色にそまります。

I got the gist of this, but the で in the first part still has me feeling a bit shaky. I read the tofugu article about で to see if there was a use for it I didn’t know about, but I am still not sure what exactly it’s conveying here. A time when the rest of the sentence occurs, I think? I guess it’s functioning as a specifying particle the way tofugu says, indicating that during July, the perfect time to visit, this is what happens.

  • Sentence 12, もしひぐまに出会ってしまったら、走ってにげたり、大きな声でさけんだりしてはいけません。

Like I said, I was excited to get てはいけません, but 走ってにげたり confused me a bit. Jisho tells me that たり is a particle that can mean “doing such things as” but I’m not sure if that’s actually what’s going on there. In general I really relied on vocabulary to understand this, rather than actually getting the meaning through grammar.

Also, I laughed bitterly here, as I frequently forget the rendaku in 大声 here on wanikani, and the text here managed to avoid using that piece of vocabulary while still reminding me of my pain…

  • Sentence 13, ひぐまはひっくりすると、人間をおそうからです。

Similar confusion here. I get the first part with the verb+と, and I can guess based on vocabulary and context what the second part is getting at, but if you asked me to parse and explain it piece by piece, I couldn’t do it.

I might give the second story a shot tomorrow. This was fun. I like this book, too—I’m excited to learn about all of the different parts of Japan!

Sentence 6

It’s a bit tricky, because this is not the particle で、but the て-form of the copula だ。
The two sentences are:

ラベンダーばたけは七月が見ごろだ - best time to see is July
はるか地平線のかなたまで、美しい青むらさき色にそまります。- until the far horizon, [the ground] is colored in beautiful blue-purple.

て- form is used to connect those two sentences, like with “and”.

Sentence 12

That’s actually a grammar point: https://japanesetest4you.com/flashcard/learn-jlpt-n4-grammar-たり~たり-taritari/

You can give a partial list of activities, each followed by たり, and then in the end you tuck on する to finish it off:

もしひぐまに出会ってしまったら、- if you unfortunately bump into a brown bear,
走ってにげたり、- things like running to escape (i.e. running away)
大きな声でさけんだり - or shouting with a loud voice
してはいけません。- are things you must not do.

Sentence 13

This is supposed to be びっくり, right? :wink:

Pro tip: Please include your understanding and guessing, because then it’s much easier for us to see where you went astray and to help you get what’s going on… :blush:

So here と bears the meaning of when - then.

ひぐまはびっくりする - a brown bear gets startled
と、- when [this happens], then
人間をおそうからです。- he attacks the human, that’s why.

If you have further questions, please feel free to dive deeper and ask more!


Thank you for your help, NicoleRauch!

Sentences 6, 12, 13 from pages 6-7

These now make perfect sense. I am happy I was kind of on the right track with たり, and now that I have seen it and talked about it hopefully I will recognize it next time.

Looking at 13 broken down like this, I think I just didn’t know what to do with the からです. It makes sense that it’s saying “that’s why.”

Also, sorry for my Japanese typos! I am a horrible typist and with Japanese I don’t have my spell checker to help me. :sweat_smile:

I worked on the second section this morning, too.

My translation: Page 8

In Aomori, there is a famous festival in the summer. It’s the Nebuta festival. “Rasseraa, Rasseraa!” It’s a night festival. With lively shouts, a huge doll called a “Nebuta” is carried along on a festival float. All around, the “Haneto” skip and jump, wearing their colorful costumes.

All sorts of “Nebuta,” planned and made with such ingenuity, come along one by one. Anyone can wear a “haneto” costume and dance.

Difficult sentences for me (page 8)…

In general I had some trouble because I don’t know much about this festival. So I was wondering, are there many floats in the festival, or just one? I looked it up on wikipedia and it seems to be saying there’s just one, but the use of つぎつぎ (one by one) and さまざま (all sorts) make it sound like there are lots of floats in the procession. This confusion is reflected in my translation.

The only place where I got really confused was sentence 7: くふうをこらして作られたさまざまな「ねぶた」は、つぎつぎにやって来ます。 In particular, くふうをこらして作られたさまざまな「ねぶた」は read like just a jumble to me when I first read it. But I think I was able to work through it:

くふうをこらして: expression, to come up with a plan, verb こらして is the te form of 懲らす(こらす). This was what really messed me up because I didn’t know it was an expression; I took the verb to mean “to concentrate” (and assumed it to be intransitive even though it’s not) and kept trying to fit くふう in as an object somewhere else.

作られた: to be made, passive past form of 作る; I took the te form above to be joined up with this and accepting the same conjugation.

さまざまな: various, な-adjective

「ねぶた」: “Nebuta”

Which leaves me with something like, “The various Nebuta, having been carefully planned and made…” The second part of the sentence was fine since we had already run into やって来ます earlier in the passage.

Also, I suppose it’s not really a question, but I really liked sentence 6: まわりでは、色とりどりのいしょうをきた「ハネト」が、ぴょんぴょんととびはねています。 The way its structured, starting out with まわりでは、色とりどり, made me imagine a nighttime whirlwind of bright colors that then sort of crystalized into the image of dancers in costume as the sentence progressed.

This one went so much faster than the previous one that I might even have time to do the one on page nine this evening!


So far I’ve only read the first part about Hokkaido, but I thought I’d post my translations anyway. Special thanks to @Gorbit99 whose translations I used to double-check mine when I got lost :grin:

Hokkaido translations!


You are able to encounter wild animals

Hokkaido is in the northernmost part of Japan.
If you look at the map on pages 2-3 of this book, you will understand that among the prefectures it is the largest.

In Hokkaido’s Furano region, lavender fields spread out.
Lots of small, bluish purple lavender flowers bloom.
And from the flowers and leaves there is a very good smell.
July is the best time to see the lavender fields, when they are dyed a beautiful bluish purple color up to the distance of the far away horizon.

On the nature-blessed Shiretoko peninsula of Hokkaido live many wild animals.
The fluffy-furred Ezo red fox.
The splendid Hokkaido sika, whose males have large horns.
The small Hokkaido squirrels live in holes in trees.

And then, the brown bear also lives on the Shiretoko peninsula.
If you unfortunately encounter a brown bear, you must not run to escape or shout in a loud voice.
Because if a brown bear is surprised, it will attack humans.
While turning your body towards the brown bear’s direction, make sure to slowly go back down and away.

In Shiretoko’s oceans also live many animals like whales, dolphins, and seals.

Am I correct in guessing that むけたまま means something like “while turning towards”? I’m going to look up some more examples, but one of the Jisho entries for まま had a definition of “while”.


Yeah, Wikipedia does kinda give that impression, huh? The real festival looks like this:


Finished reading this week’s portion. Will probably come back to it to write my own translation to make sure I understand 100% of the grammar.


まま is a weird one (read: no I don’t get it either). It has a sense of continuing one action, and when paired up with the past tense of a verb in the middle of a sentence, it means that you do something while continuing the other action as opposed to turning towards the bear waving goodbye, then doing a 180 and running the other direction. This is what the while dictionary entry is trying to say, though you might want to translate it in a different way, like “keep looking at the bear and slowly back away”


Don’t forget that it’s むけまま - so basically having turned towards (むけた) and then remaining like that (まま).
If you want to use “while”, it would be something like “while staying in a turned-towards position” in very literal English.


Thanks for the videos, @Belthazar! That looks so amazing!! What beautiful craftsmanship…I wish I could go see them in person. Maybe someday.

I did the Iwate section tonight. It was pretty straightforward, too!

My Translation: Page 9

How did the Sanriku Coast of Iwate Prefecture come to be? Please look at the map on pages 2-3 of this book. You’ll see how the coast is jagged. We call a jagged coast like this a “ria” coastline.

In the water near this ria coastline, salt flows better, and impressive wakame grows. In the sea off the coast, delicious fish can sometimes be caught. The area is famous around the world. Lots of sea bream, horse mackerel, salmon, and other fish are caught there.

This one felt shorter than the previous one. It was so short that I went ahead and did sentence diagrams for every sentence, which left me without any questions…for now! This has been very fun, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the book club.


Thanks for sharing your translations. I’m glad you’re enjoying the book.

Page 9


I don’t feel like “how did it come to be” fits the context. They don’t go on to explain how it came to be so jagged.

I think this means more like “what is it like/how is it made up”. (It’s really jagged).


This is a fixed expression in Jisho - sweep of the tide; drift of the tide; tidal current​

I read this as saying there are good tidal currents. Presumably these are good for bringing nutrients for marine life. The Oyashio current maybe?


Does anyone know if the amount of Kanji increases as the book progresses?

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It does not.

Are you entering the “gah! Why are there so few kanji?!” phase of your Japanese learning? :slightly_smiling_face:


And apparently no カタカナ, not even for animal names.

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