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:
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
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.
I can’t wait to start chapter 4, but I also need to do my grammar and other things. Too bad 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.
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 )
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
After first learning about お盆 in 地球星人, it was interesting seeing another side of it here
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 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)
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…