Week 3: 佐賀のがばいばあちゃん 👵🏼

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佐賀のがばいばあちゃん :older_woman:t3: Home Thread

Week 3


Start Date: April 16th
Previous Part: Week 2
Next Part: Week 4


Week Start Date Chapter Page Count
Week 3 April 16th Chapter 3, 4 21

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags for major events in the current chapter(s) and any content in future chapters.
  • When asking for help, please mention the chapter and page number. Also mention what version of the book you are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions, even if they seem embarrassing at first. All of us are here to learn.
  • To you lurkers out there: Join the conversation, it’s fun! :durtle:


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This is a very relaxing and interesting story! I learned a lot from the way the grandmother lived, because I also love to save money and live stingy. 2 things stick out for me: Running too desperately will make you feel hungry; fishbone is edible (is it really true?!)

I’m trying to pay some attention to 佐賀 dialect in the story:
For example:



I found the definition for やけん from Iyo dialect

*“ya” (や) replaces “da” (だ) as the casual copula
“ken” (けん) replaces “kara” (から) as in “because”:“yaken” (やけん) is used instead of “dakara” (だから)



よか also appeared in 福岡.


I have just finished chapter 3 and will soon start chapter 4. But I have a question about something that I didn’t understand correctly.

Question about Chapter 3

So, when our little boy comes to school, he says that he was standing out and people were avoiding him. Did I understand that part correctly ?
Because soon after he says that he climbs trees with his friends to get a snack and started looking his friends training (Oh, this part broke my hear !).
So, my guess is that everything lies in the part where he says he needed a month to adapt. Like, at first people wouldn’t talk to him but after adjusting he could get friends ? Sorry, but this part felt difficult for me.

Since I am posting here, I shall as well share my thought on chapter 3. I will come back later here to discuss chapter 4 :slight_smile:

Thoughts about chapter 3

Another heartbreak here ! How difficult it must be for a young child not to be able to do any sports or join his friends activities. I obviously understand why the grandma has to say no, but really, I felt sad. And it was even worse when our little boy felt so pride about running as it was completely free but his grandma told him off because he would become hungry and would damage his shoes. Life is hard for them. :pleading_face:

I can’t wait to start chapter 4, but I also need to do my grammar and other things. Too bad :sweat_smile: But at least I can keep pace with this book, so I am super happy. Though, reading this shows me that the road to learn Japanese is still very long as it takes me a lot of time to read one page.


Yes, exactly. They treated him as an outsider at first, but then after a short while he got used to the place and assimilated, and so did the other kids to him. :slight_smile:


I think that was because he was overdressed on his first day at school, with shiny shoes and a school uniform. I suppose that didn’t happen again later.


I have not been able to figure out this の何の: 学校ったいた Does anyone have any idea…? Does it have anything to do with the の何のって grammar point…?


Sort of, I guess. I took it to be that one: なんの - Jisho.org (no. 3).


Finished chapter 3 for now.

I had to look up the fruit he mentions:

tree and fruit pics



and some more pics of 城鯱の門


I stupidly only just noticed that the name on the cover is not the same as the name in the story, which surprised me as it is supposed to be a true account of his childhood. Looking it up, I found out that 徳永昭広 is his real name, and 島田洋七 his stage name. (Strangely, Wikipedia mentions 島田洋一 as his former stage name. I wonder if there’s also a 洋に, 洋三, etc version )


I actually didn’t realize at first that this was more like memoirs.

Also, I had no idea people pickled watermelon rinds…

Watermelon Rind Pickles - Alton Brown


Yes, my Japanese host mother did that as well (she is originally from Kagoshima, and she told me it’s common there, but not in Fukuoka where I stayed with her). But she only used the white part, there was no red left to it - probably too delicious when eaten directly :wink:


That’s actually common for manzai artists who take part of their name from their 先生 and often have numbers in their names. (Explained in more detail in one of the sequels 幸せのトランク.)


Ahhh, I missed that note! Thanks, that explains it.


Hello, another grammar question from me: ばあちゃんは仕事に行っていていない。

What does this 行っていていない here mean. I am kind of confused by the two てs following each other.


It is 行っていて + いない where

行っていて is the てーform of 行っている (she went)
いない (she was not there)


Thank you. I was thinking way convoluted😂.


I saw that there was some discussion about this book in the 📚📚 Read every day challenge - Spring 2022 🌸 🌱 thread (start at @omk3 comment here and work your way back through the replies in case you missed it and are curious).

I saw that @sycamore remarked the following:

That got me wondering: is this book aimed at kids? The language (and the content so far) seem pretty simple.

And a more general question in connection to that: is there an easy way to find out the target demographic of a Japanese book somewhere? (Without trying to parse complete Wikipedia pages in Japanese :sweat_smile:)

Thoughts on chapter 4 (and in general)

After first learning about お盆 in 地球星人, it was interesting seeing another side of it here :slight_smile:
Others have commented about the extreme poverty driving the grandmother to use to the maximum degree even the parts most people would discard, like fish bones and used tea leaves (I love that there’s a word for it: 茶殻), but in fact it makes me sad that this sort of wise use of resources is almost lost, at least among those of us who have plenty. Fewer animals would be killed, fewer vegetables would have to be cultivated and harvested, less (or next to none) garbage would accumulate in landfills if we all respected our resources the way ばあちゃん does. It would certainly be best if she could afford sports lessons for her grandson, or if she could let him enjoy his watermelon mask a little longer before pickling it, but in fact their life seems more natural and happy than many. I’ve spoken with many elders in my country who have grown up in poverty in the countryside (cities are a different story), in the aftermath of WW2. They all get misty eyed remembering the happiness they felt running free and eating fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the land. Children grew up faster then, in that they had to help around the house from basically day 1, and knew not to demand things no one could offer them anyway, but on the other hand, they were also allowed to be wild and free much longer than in cities nowadays. At least in my experience from my little corner of the world.

Yes, basically. Small fish are routinely eaten whole, bones and all. Larger bones are hard to chew and digest of course, so they’re used in soups. I hadn’t thought of powdering them, but it does make perfect sense.

I don’t get that sense at all, it’s just that, because he’s talking about his childhood, the themes tend to be safe for -and even relatable to- children, too. I believe adults are likely to enjoy this book much more than children would.
As for the target demographic, I look at tags. This book is unhelpfully tagged エンタメ/カルチャー and タレント・アイドル in Bookwalker because of its author, but for example the BBC’s current book 夜カフェ is tagged 児童文学・童話・絵本. I’m certainly interested if there’s an easier way to tell, though.


Hi! I’m not really sure it actually is a kids book, the writing style (and the moralising in the intro) just feels reminiscent of a book maybe aimed at slightly older (maybe early teen/middle school?) children to me - the style reminds me a bit of reading 魔女の宅急便. So far it’s the kind of story that I could easily imagine being assigned as a ‘read this over the holidays and write an essay about it’ book at school.

But that also might be because most of the books aimed at adults I’ve read so far in Japanese have been murder mysteries/crime and so my judgement is skewed by that haha to be like ‘slower paced descriptive slice of life == feels like a kids book’ because I’ve just not read enough in Japanese yet to have a true sense :sweat_smile: It’s also been a few weeks since I’ve read this as I got sidetracked by other things so my opinion might change as I get further through (I was at 25% through the ebook version)


If you need any recommendations for slow, rambling, descriptive books aimed at adults, just shout :grin:


Ooh glad to read that. I struggled with the same bit and ended up guessing that.

For target audience, I see exactly what sycamore means in the school book vibes, but I suppose most of those by that age weren’t necessarily books “for kids” anyway. Now you’ve got me curious what kind of things Japanese kids get assigned to read, actually…