Week 1: TUGUMI 🌅

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TUGUMI :sunrise: Home Thread

Week 1


Start Date: July 30th
Next Part: Week 2


Week Start Date Chapter Start Page Page Count
Week 1 July 30th お化けのポスト 9 18

Vocabulary List

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Does someone know how to read the names of つぐみ’s family (from the movie or the English translation of the book)?
Jisho gives a lot of possibilities for 正おじさん, 政子おばさん and 陽子ちゃん as names.

Also, why is the title of the book TUGUMI and not TSUGUMI?


I guess that’s because Japanese (at least those that I know) usually romanize つ as TU. Which makes sense to me as it is one character less that needs to be typed.


The English translation by Michael Emmerich gives the following names for the members of the Yamamoto family:

Uncle Tadashi
Aunt Masako
Older sister Yōko


They teach this Kunrei-shiki romanization in schools in Japan. It is more ”regular” (e.g. ta, ti, tu, te, to) compared to Hepburn, which captures more of the phonetic information (e.g. ta, chi, tsu, te, to).


The first part wasn’t too bad! I feel like Tsugumi and Maria’s relationship is kind of love-hate so far. Maria seems to simultaneously resent Tsugumi for being loved/pitied by everyone even though she’s mean (?) but is also jealous of her and does care for her (kind of?). It looks like they were close when they were little kids, but now they’re not? Definitely an unreliable narrator. I like it so far and the characters seem interesting!


I’m struggling with this. I’ve managed about 3 pages. I’ll battle through to the end of the first chapter as I know it’s always tricky getting used to new styles and situations, but I think it may be above my level.

Edit: immediately after this I read and fully understood 3 sentences in a row, so maybe I can do it?


I feel your struggles :blush: And I agree that it’s always difficult to get into a new author’s style.

Just give it a try and see how far you can get! But if it’s really too hard then of course you are free to lower the pace (we will still be around even if you are trailing behind for a bit) or to step back from it for now.
Also, if there is something in particular that you have questions about, please feel free to ask!


I’m only about 3 pages in, but I liked it so far. Yoshimoto really piles on the qualifiers, which I think I’ll enjoy once I get used to it, but it currently takes me forever to parse sentences like:



Yes, that’s one of my issues, though that was one of the first sentences I understood without looking up words!

I had a breakthrough on a plane ride just now where I read to the end of the Bookwalker preview. No idea if that’s the whole chapter, and I definitely need to go back and read over it.


You mean you read until さようなら? (That’s what I can see as the end of the Bookwalker preview when I’m not logged in.) I hope this is not too frustrating to you, but up to that point it’s 10 pages while up to the end of the chapter there are 8.5 more pages waiting for you… (maybe it helps you a bit to know that the second half of that chapter was a bit less like an intro and more like a story, so I found that I could read it much faster.)

If it’s of any help, I learned to build (in my head) for each sententce a stack of all the contained nouns with their qualifiers, and whenever I discover that such a noun is part of the next qualifier (like in your sentence) I can somehow shift it around and thus can usually get the meaning in 1-2 passes.
Therefore my double-takes have somehow shifted from qualifier overload to unexpected (or misinterpreted) expressions :grin:


That’s funny, the part of that sentence that gave me some trouble was 人ベスト3人. I then realized it probably meant “top 3 people”, but it took me a minute. :eyes:


Tidy stacks of qualifiers don’t cause me much problem, but then she throws in things like
~た人ベスト3… (See entire quote above)
And the missing の totally throws me for a loop. Sentences with a flock of のs are easier to parse, but also boring, so once I get used to it, I’ll probably like it.

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I think in this case ベスト rather serves as a suffix than as a noun… (comparable to maybe ~的 or something.) So there wouldn’t be a の in that word. It’s not missing, it doesn’t belong there in the first place.

On Goo, I found examples like
国公私立ベスト30大学人気ランキングで (sorry, can’t find the link any more)
アイスベスト vs ファン付きベスト3本勝負 (from here, with a bunch of other examples in the text)

So I think the takeaway from this is that no matter whether something looks like an English word, the Japanese meaning and usage may still be totally different…


Yes, till there. I thought it seemed too soon to be the end of the chapter, but I’d checked in my physical book (along with my warm clothes :cold_face:). But the reading was much smoother than the initial pages, so I have hope!


This comment reminded me of something Michael Emmerich wrote about Yoshimoto in the short story collection Read Real Japanese: Fiction (ISBN 978-4-7700-3058-0), in which he included one of her stories.

From his Preface to that book (on page 10):
“Yoshimoto Banana’s writing is harder than most experienced readers think, but it’s worth making the effort to figure her sentences out. She uses Japanese in a way that few other writers do, skillfully melding the poetic and the colloquial, precise description and unspoken implication, the ordinary and the lovely and the painful and the profound, and doing it all in a way that looks (but isn’t) almost unplanned. Her writing has its own, very particular flavor.”

And from his introduction (on page 73) to her short story (ミイラ)in that book:
“her fiction is perfect for beginning readers of Japanese: Yoshimoto tends to prefer everyday language and doesn’t use many kanji, but she dances through the possibilities of Japanese grammar in a way that few writers nowadays do. She’s really a great stylist.”

Caveat: I do not share Michael Emmerich’s optimism about the sort of writing that is ‘perfect for beginning readers of Japanese’. :astonished:


Thanks for the examples–
Yes, that certainly seems to be how ベスト# is used!

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I agree! The description of Tsugumi’s beauty vs her disposition really shows the two opposite views I think! I thought it was interesting how Maria describes Tsugumi taking the boys to the beach. It makes me wonder if she actually ever saw that happen or if it is a purely romanticized view of Tsugumi


I feel with you. There is a lot of vocab to learn and many expressions unknown to me. I am glad to have the e-book version so that I can easily translate words and sentences with the inbuilt dictionary lookup. Otherwise I couldn’t keep up with the book club pace.


unless your beginning to learn about qualifiers in your sentences.