Week 2 - Stories of the Japanese Prefectures (Absolute Beginner Book Club)


Same as Mr Miyagi in Karate Kid.

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Hello, I am new here. Just asking whether its possible to join the reading even if it is in progress

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You can most definitely join. And please do - the more, the merrier :blush:

ah sadly I can’t there is no digital copy ):

I wish you guys have fun though hopefully can join the next one

If you have the means, you can order it from Amazon Japan. It only takes a few days for them to deliver worldwide, it seems. I’ve ordered a few Japanese books twice at that store, and both times it took only 3-4 days before I had them delivered in Denmark.

If you feel like you can catch up, amazon Japan only took a week or so to deliver my book. So if you order now, you’ll be able to join in next week and this one just started, it will be a couple of weeks before the next one

These are 傍点(ぼうてん)or side dots. Wikipedia says:
Adding these dots to the sides of characters (right side in vertical writing, above in horizontal writing) emphasizes the character in question. It is the Japanese equivalent of the use of italics for emphasis in English.

They get used for a variety of emphasis in Japanese. For example, in レンタルおにいちゃん manga that we read in ABBC, the dots were used to draw your attention to the difference in spelling between お兄ちゃん (used with her real older brother) and おにいちゃん (used with her rental big brother).

Here I think they just help separate out where an individual word starts and stops to make the reading easier for young children (and non-native learners!). I actually found this quite helpful - both words could have been tricky to parse out otherwise.

There are other marks in Japanese with different names that can serve the same function - the wikipedia article has more info.

Chapter 8
I love how they describe the wonder of the formation of the lakes - they gently leave out the fact that 500 people died when the volcano erupted in 1888 that created these lakes!

Akita translation

Akita Prefecture

Is Namahage scary?

It is the night of New Year’s Eve.

“Are there any crying children?!”

The demon entered a house wielding a kitchen knife made from wood.
The people in the house serve it things like sake and entertain the demon.
Then, the demon heads towards the next house.

This demon, which villagers disguise themselves as, is called “Namahage”.
If you are lazy or pick fights, “Namahage” will admonish you for that.
“Namahage” is scary-looking, but it is a messenger of the mountain gods which brings happiness to people.

The word つかい/使い in the last line has a few different definitions, but “messenger” seems to work the best. At least @Gorbit99 and I had the same idea!


Huge thanks for these translations, it caught a few things that I got wrong (for example I didn’t realize that Bandai was an actual mountain and Jisho translated it as “thousands of years” so I just assumed it was a geological thing from many, many volcanic eruptions)!

One small thing that is bothering me that I can’t figure out - in page 12 what does the ぶ do 一つぶ一つぶ?

Full sentence: かがやく宝石のような赤いみの一つぶ一つぶに、農家の人のくろうがつまっているのです。

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This is one of the tricky things about the lack of kanji - it’s not 一つ+ぶ but rather 一粒.


Hmm, could it be that the Akita subtitle, “なまはげは、こわい?” means “Are you afraid of the Namahage?”? Makes more sense to me than “are they scary?”

Yamagata translation

Yamagata Prefecture

Beloved cherries

Yamagata prefecture is the kingdom of fruit.
Especially the popular cherries that are harvested at the beginning of summer.

In the Meiji period, cherries originally were fruits that came from foreign countries.
In the beginning, they were cultivated throughout Japan, but in Yamagata prefecture, where there was little frost or typhoon damage, they came to grow well.

Cherry cultivation takes a surprising amount of work.
Every single red, shining jewel-like fruit is packed with the farmer’s toil.

The repetition of 一つぶ一つぶ in the last line threw me a bit, but I figured it meant either “every single” or “each and every” in this context.


The latter actually makes more since to me, but it’s simple enough that it could mean what you’re saying. They’re not actually so different.

I think it’s more like “one by one”. 一つ一つ in Jisho means “one by one”. Here the つぶ is 粒, the counter for small round things. So 一粒一粒 is “one by one” or “one small round thing at a time”.

Week 3 thread!


:cherries:・ だいすきさくらんぼ・Much loved cherries:cherry_blossom:
After reading this passage, I did some research and found that Yamagata produces 70% of Japan’s cherries. In June, during cherry season, one can participate in all-you-can-eat cherry picking sessions. I’m so excited to try it one day, as it combines my love for Japan, cherries and gardening.
Below is my translation


Fruit kingdom of Yamagata prefecture.


One of the most popular fruits, cherry, is harvested in the beginning of summer.
Particularly, as for popular cherries, in the beginning of summer are harvested.

  • しゅうかくされます: しゅうかく (harvest) + されます (polite passive for of する → される → されうます)


As for cherry, it’s a fruit that originally came along from abroad in Meiji Period.


As for beginning, all over Japan was cultivated, but in Yamagata ken where frost and typhoon damage are few, reached the point of growing well.

  • ようになる - reach the point where~, come to~


Cultivation of cherries takes surpising amount of labour.


One-by-one … red fruit looking like a shining jewel, farmers’ labour … is packed with?

  • ような is a “connective” form of ようだ - look as if; appear; seem

:question: What’s the word-by-word translation of this, how does つまる fit in here?


Better a little late than never!

Fukushima translation

Fukushima Prefecture

The secret of the five-colored lakes

In the naturally-beautiful Fukushima prefecture’s region called “Urabadai” there are several lakes.
There are tinged red “Akanuma (Red Lake)”, bluish-white shining “Aonuma (Blue Lake)”, and “Rurinuma (Lapis Lazuli Lake?)” whose water color changes depending on where you look, among others.
These lakes altogether are called “Goshikinuma (Five-colored Lakes)”.

How were the Five-colored Lakes made?
The answer is the volcanic eruption of Mount Bandai.
It is said that because of the eruption the mountain crumbled, mud dammed up the river, and water collected in the basin.
To think that beautiful lakes are made because of a volcanic eruption is incredible, isn’t it?

To clarify, would the the phrases ending in stem-form verbs in the second-to-last sentence just be listing out events? Like saying “… and … and …” ? I’m more familiar with the te-form being used in this way.


Page 12

I got the general sense of this one but not 100% sure of the translation. Perhaps: Each shining, jewel-like red fruit is packed with the farmer’s labour - or - Each shining, jewel-like red fruit is picked one by one; it’s lots of effort for the farmer.

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I think you were actually quite close. I took the phrase to mean that the cherries were “filled with the farmers’ effort/hard work”, sort of like a lunch made by your mom would be “filled with love”, to use an example.


That’s right, in spoken language the て-form is often used as a connective, but in written form it’s common to see the verb stem used instead.