Week 3: 小川未明童話集 - Ogawa Mimei’s Collection of Children’s Stories

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小川未明童話集 - Ogawa Mimei’s Collection of Children’s Stories Home Thread

Week 3


Start Date: Sep 11th
Previous Part: Week 2
Next Part: Week 4


Week Start Date Chapter Pages 1951ed. Pages 2013ed. Page Count
Week 3 Sep 11th 3. 眠い町12 51 24 8

Vocabulary List

Discussion Rules

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Another great story! :smiley:

I thought it was interesting that while trying to cure the world of overexertion, he strains himself and finally comes back to see that it was all for naught. :frowning:

Perhaps the moral is something like “Civilisation cannot be stopped.” or “One cannot force peace on others, it can only come from within.” or “Focus on what is important to you rather than trying to change others.” Thoughts?

I also really liked the description of the town at the end, lots of WK vocab :grin:

Just read through the story quickly, so I might have misunderstood some parts… I’ll definitely have to go over the second last page again sometime :sweat_smile:


Yep, another interesting story that didn’t turn out quite as I expected. It started as a standard fairy tale, at part 3 it suddenly felt predictable and with an obvious moral, then by the end of part 4 the moral turned blurry again. I guess it’s that You can’t stop progress, or maybe that You just shouldn’t trust crazy old men so much. . There’s also the possibility that the sand was some kind of drug that caused hallucinations :grin:


Haha true!

Strangely, the main character didn’t really have a personality (at least compared to the last 2 stories). It felt like rather than being a character, he was just there to progress the story.

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


Well, he was someone who liked to travel the world, and was driven by curiosity and a love for exploration. But it’s true, as to the old man’s request, he didn’t seem to have much of an opinion either way, he just did as he was told.


I felt like that one was the biggest struggle of the three so far - just lots of weird bits that took me a while to process, but maybe that’s because I haven’t read a lot for the past few days (had a busy week that left very little time for Japanese)

Got a question about the following sentence:


I’m not sure what the というかといいますと bit is doing - having some trouble parsing it, though I feel like I can get the rough gist of the sentence without it (explaining why it’s called the sleepy town)


Yes that’s a bit of a tricky one. I’ll try to break it down a bit:

どうしてこの町を - why this town
「眠い町」という - is called “sleepy town” (see と言う - Jisho.org)
- question marker, i.e. end of the question “Why is this town called Sleepy Town?”
といいますと - I’m having a bit of a hard time to give a perfectly fitting translation, maybe something like “when it comes to”? See と言うと - Jisho.org. The literal translation would be “when you say”, I guess, maybe even that would fit here.

I think with sentences like these it is important to keep in mind that Japanese is much much more direct than e.g. English, where things are often phrased in indirect speech. In Japanese, however, embedded questions that mimic direct speech are often used, like here.


Similar to what @NicoleIsEnough said, I translated というかといいますと as
"when people ask ‘why is this town called Sleepy Town?’ "

The と言いますと I parsed as “when it is said” / “when people ask”
と - quoting
いいます - to say
と - conditional


I promised some more explanations, so here goes:

Part I

名を知られなかった - [spoiler]this is 知られる[/spoiler] - Jisho.org - “his name was not known”

~ておりました - this is the same as ~ていました (see 居る - Jisho.org). It is used for various reasons, e.g. to indicate old man’s speech, to indicate humbleness, and it is even used in some dialects.

幾人となく - [spoiler]https://jisho.org/search/となく[/spoiler] - maybe something like “how ever many people”?

しばらく休もうといたしまするうちに - here we have a nice collection of 3 grammar points :sweat_smile: Let’s pick them apart for a bit:

Part II

いつともなしに体が連れてきました - [spoiler]See https://learnjapanesedaily.com/japanese-grammar-ともなく/ともなしに-tomonaku-tomonashini.html[/spoiler] - without knowing when / without realizing, my body got tired.

眠っちゃならない - casual contraction of 眠っては - must not sleep
我慢をしていなくちゃならない - casual contraction of いなければ - must endure

For more information on casual contractions please see this excellent forum post.

麻酔薬をかがされた - causative passive form of 嗅ぐ (to sniff) - was made to inhale

Part III

頼みを聞いてくれぬか - ぬ is an old form of ない, so this is the same as くれないか or くれませんか

頼まれれば - [spoiler]The ば-form has the meaning of “if”. See Conditionals – Learn Japanese

やらぬわけにはゆきません - Again these are two points mingled together a little bit.

  • ゆきません - this is an alternative spelling for 行きません
  • やらないわけには行きません - [spoiler]I have no choice but do (due to circumstances outside of my control). See My Grammar Mastery - Kanshudo

またたくまに - This should be more understandable in kanji: 瞬く間に - in the time of a blink. This is a very common construction that comes in all shapes and sizes, e.g. ああという間に - in the time it takes to say “aaa”, or (as you will see later in this story) 見る間に - while watching. Also the verb 間に合う has the same root - to meet in time.

Hope this list helps you a bit, and happy reading!


This is super helpful - always look forward to your grammar breakdowns Nicole! Hadn’t cottoned on to the old man speech. Glad you pointed that out so I can hopefully keep an eye for the rest of the story.

I’ve only finished up to the end of part 2 at the moment but finding this story much easier to follow than the previous two. How about everyone else? I can see @VikingSchism has the opposite view so I am intrigued.

It's been already very well explained by @NicoleRauch and @TeaSouple , but here's my take:

In my love/hate relationship with という I have learnt that is often quite safe to ignore it. The first という right after 「眠い町」 I interpreted as just quotation marks - I’ve found という very often used after names or descriptions like that. As for かといいますと, according to this hinative link, it is used like this to give a reason (and apparently this too can be omitted?):

Meanwhile, here’s some more random illustrations I found for this story:


I love his crazy eyes…

and some milder ones:


Well that illustration has definitely solidified the おじいさん vibes :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


Huh, so who is the narrator of this story exactly? I’m mostly asking because I saw the verb 来る used every time someone came to the town (example, the last sentence of part 1, or first sentence of very last paragraph), but I’ve been taught again and again that in Japanese 来る is only used for coming towards the speaker, not going somewhere else. Was it always like that, or am I reading too much into it?

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Same here, for me this was a much easier read than the other two stories so far. I’m not sure why exactly but I feel like I’m getting used to the である style which confused me a bit at first.

Oh thank you so much for this, trying to figure out what たくまに is supposed to mean here wasted a decent bit of my time today before I decided to just give up and move on :joy:

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Well, I did not want to imply that it’s used in this particular case to indicate old man’s speech :sweat_smile:
More like, if you come across it, you might want to check against this list and see what fits (if any).
Sorry for the confusion!

Back to our sentence at hand, I am actually unsure which one of the options applies here. It only appear one more time (close to the end of the story), and interestingly doesn’t appear in any of the other stories, so it’s more of a one-off to me. Maybe it’s polite (keigo) to kind of set the tone? I’ll see whether I can check back with a Japanese friend tomorrow.

I think it’s an unnamed person who is somehow observing our protagonist and the whole world. Therefore I guess that the narrator’s location can be wherever it suits him. E.g. when he wants to talk about the village, he could be in the village and observe the young man coming (くる) to the village.

Also just for the record, please keep in mind that the first of your examples actually is てくる which is an auxiliary verb that has a broader meaning than just “come to a place”. See Helping Verbs: …ていく and …てくる for more details.

I very much like this writing style! It somehow feels so clear and factual to me. Glad to hear you are starting to get along with it :slight_smile:

Awww :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:
Glad I could help a little!


:grin: Aw come on, let me fantasise about the narrator being the old man himself, all the while chuckling under his beard about the prank he played on the poor boy - whose name he never knew, as he says. An omniscient narrator would know the name, surely?

Sure, but there’s still a distinction between moving towards or away from the speaker, be it in space or time. Anyway in this case I do think it only means “came walking”.


In this one, I noticed であろう appear and I was like “oh so that’s where だろう comes from probably” so that was fun haha

I also kind of like である - it just sounds nice in my internal monologue when I’m reading. Certainly threw me for a few loops when I first started with a novel, but now it’s not so bad when it pops up


There’s some interesting uses of furigana in this story, like 寂然しん and 四辺あたり. While googling to see whether they’re common readings that Jisho just doesn’t know about (for some reason), I found https://furigana.info/ - according to the site’s About page, it surveys every work on Aozora Bunko.

Apparently when 四辺 is written with furigana, it’s あたり 96% of the time. Meanwhile, 寂然 is split pretty evenly five ways between せきぜん, ひっそり, じゃくねん, しん, and everything else.

Kinda curious as to what’s implied. And what’s implied by Jisho not having those readings. Are they simply archaic usages, or is some kind of poetic double meaning being used?


I fixed some errors in the vocab sheet (typos, copy-paste errors).

One that I am not 100% sure of: (おれ) didn’t have the correct meaning (it was copied from the line above). I assume it is just I (俺), but with a different Kanji, right?

I also have a question about みよおす which is listed as meaning ‘to feel (sensation, emotion, call of nature, etc.)’: where do you find words like these? :sweat_smile: I couldn’t find it in any of my dictionaries nor on Jisho…

And is listed with meaning ‘strengthens a question, assertion, etc.​’. い is a pretty hard word to match with the text :joy:, but I assume this concerns the sentence that ends as follows?:


If so, that answers one of my grammar questions, because I was a bit confused about what kind of conjugation くれい was!


It’s … complicated :sweat_smile: See 己 - Jisho.org
If it’s read おれ, then yes, it’s the same as 俺, just with a different kanji (first jisho entry). But it can also be read おのれ and then takes on a different nuance… I haven’t properly understood those delicacies yet, so sorry that I cannot say more!

You find them through the magic of the correct spelling: もよおす - Jisho.org :sweat_smile:

That’s the only place I remember that would match, yes.