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 )
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
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)
If you need any recommendations for slow, rambling, descriptive books aimed at adults, just shout
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…
I once discussed this with my language partner who is in his early fifties, so this information is a bit dated, but he said that in middle school in one year they would get a summer holiday assignment to read one of 人間失格、我輩は猫である and one other that I forgot, and write a report about it. I found it a bit surprising that they read those books in middle school already, but compared to Germany, we probably read similar stuff in school around that time (you know, literature, not children’s books). How about the US? What do schoolchildren read in school nowadays?
I remember when I first said to my tutor that I was reading 魔女の宅急便 she said something along the lines of “uugh I remember having to read that for school and write an essay”
Huh. On one hand I probably shouldn’t underestimate kids, but my impression is that those books are pretty full of old kanji and the like, so it’s a little surprising at that level they’d be assigned books that I’d assume feature a whole lot of stuff they weren’t directly taught quite yet by that point. I mean I know being surrounded by the language all your life, their knowledge well outstrips anything you get by just looking at the jouyou list, but still. Thanks for the info!
Edit: actually you did say the person telling you that was a bit older so the writing would be slightly less distant at that time – I’m not engaging my brain currently
My only knowledge of that comes from the movie but that one seems so fun and whimsical to be school reading, haha.
Honestly, I hardly remember what I had to read in middle school… I know at one point there was a Greek myth play, Hades and Persephone thing. I want to say it was around that time we read at least part of the Diary of Anne Frank. Nothing else comes to mind. I was very much someone who, even if I liked books, reading anything for school was automatically tainted by the associating with school so I think I dumped all that from my memory hahaha.
High school is easier to recall – had to do a Shakespeare thing every year (which I can assure you is certainly not something highschool kids enjoy). There’s class segmenting into honors and the like by then that split up the readings, but some other stuff a lot of people had to read was like Slaughterhouse-Five, Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, etc. In my last year I took AP English (which is sort of a pseudo college level class taken in highschool to get some advance credit if you pass the test at the end) and that was a mix of the best and worst stuff I read in high school haha. Assigning us The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) over the summer was criminal! There’s also Heart of Darkness which I think had literary value but at least at that age I could not make sense of practically anything in that dense writing. But we also had some options to pick some stuff we independently read and among them was stuff like Catch-22 and Siddhartha that I rather liked.
Okay, thank you !
Yeah, the pikapika shoes ! I guess he kept using the pikapika shoes but as he used them they became less shiny ? That’s what I understood.
But isn’t it kinda the same eslewhere ? I mean, I am from France, and in middle school I had to read Molière or other books (not so much, but still) that were written in old French. That means it had an awful lot of words that I didn’t know. It was super hard to understand but I could use a dictionnary. Guess Japanese kids may have something similar and a way to look up for kanji. Moreover, they can ask their teacher or parents in case they don’t understand something.
And at the end of middle school, I was assigned books such as Liaisons Dangereuses (this book is basically about a girl who is supposed to get married soon, is in love with another man and have sex with another man so she can learn how to please her husband and lover. And there are other characters as well and it’s all about having affairs. Love this book though.) or Sartres’ book (awfully difficult, I couldn’t reach the end. It was way too hard for me).
On another note, I almost finished chapter 4, only 1 page left so here my thoughts about it (since I doubt it is going to change for just a page) :
I saw someone mentionning eating the fish bones, in my case I wasn’t that surprise because I know some people eat them, especially grilled small and thin ones. For them it is like fried food. I don’t like it though, so I don’t eat that.
Every chapter is a heart break for me because there are a lot of things that felt so normal for me that our boy can’t even dream of. Like, doing sports. Having toys. I mean, he couldn’t even have a self made toy made out of a watermelon. His grandma took it for cooking. And he doesn’t get angry at all. For me that was the worst, even throwing a tantrum is a luxury.
War is sure a tough thing. I don’t understand why people would make one, but this is another story, uh.
Hmm, somewhat? I know what you’re saying, but on the other hand, I went searching a little to try to jog my memory and I genuinely think we didn’t start into the harder older stuff until high school. Other middle school books were like Hatchet, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Outsiders, that kinda stuff. Much more kid-accessible stuff, to my memory. Japanese just went through a much more intense overhaul of the writing system and grammar in a pretty short time, I think. Most of the English books even in highschool might have been a sorta literary in prose, but they weren’t THAT different. I look at The Great Gatsby and maybe there are some fancy words but I’m not thinking we genuinely don’t talk or write like that anymore, y’know? That was mostly just Shakespeare (and I guess Heart of Darkness but that was essentially university level), which we still usually had our hands held through.
Maybe it’s a little gentler, lower requirements in America. I mean, I have very few good things to say about my experience with public education, heh… Of course everything varies by state so much here I honestly don’t even know how generalizable my experiences are on the wider scale.
Oh yes 100%, hard agree with that. It’s creating a little bit of dissonance for me with how he seems to be writing it fairly lighthearted but I read this stuff and I’m just sad for him. Glad things seem to have turned out well for him in the end anyway.
To be fair, the books I mentioned are also written in modern Japanese. There may be some unusual kanji, and some words will be written in kanji that are nowadays mostly written in hiragana (but many modern authors have differing views on this), but they use modern grammar and everything. And even for older works, you can find modernized editions where the now outdated kanji and kana and grammar points have been replaced. (You can see that in Aozora Bunko, for example, it is annotated for each book whether it is 新 or 旧 for kanji and kana, respectively).
Gotcha. Yeah I haven’t actually read them for myself of course and I only have the outside learner’s perspective on what even makes a piece of writing hard, which I can guarantee doesn’t entirely line up with how a native would see it. Just people who have read them, especially 人間失格, have given me the impression it’s full of “that word isn’t used anymore” situations.
Though I also thought 我輩は猫である was old enough to be noticeably different in grammar, am I wrong about that? I know there’s a further difference for the really classical stuff, but…
Honestly, for France, the books choice depends on the school and on the teacher. So while my teacher of second year in middle school made us read boring kids books, the year after our new teacher made us read some Zola or The perfume from Suskind (not especially difficult in a language aspect, but rather on a theme aspect ). So, my point is, in France, you don’t have strict guidelines about the books students should read. It’s just that student need to read at least one play book for example. So, depending on your teacher you may end up ith any kind of books. I even read a fairytale psychanalize form the advice of one of my teacher. I don’t know how it is in other countries, is there any kind of guidelines ? Or is it up to the teacher to freely chose the books ?
I see, interesting! Here I can’t seem to find good information on entirely how it’s chosen, but I know they’re definitely more constrained. Like when I say a Shakespeare work every year, that seemed to be a hard requirement. There were different Shakespeare works for different levels of English (honors or not) but you were always doing Shakespeare. And I’m pretty sure within the same level when there were multiple teachers they were all reading the same things, if I recall correctly. I couldn’t tell you how much the requirements that existed were taken from general state requirements vs how much might have been the school itself, though. I’ve been doing a little searching but mostly all I’m finding are more abstract sort of “learning outcome” guidelines than anything on exact reading selection.
You probably mean the sentence 革靴はあっという間にボロボロになり、近所の子供たちと同じ下駄ばきになった。So yes, his shoes became scruffy, and he started to wear clogs like the other kids. It’s a bit surprising that there wasn’t a scene with his grandma chiding him for his ボロボロ shoes at this point, but I guess that these are the same shoes he wears when he goes running later on, right? (I doubt he would have several pairs and I assume he doesn’t wear clogs when he’s running.) So that scene just comes later