Week 4: 佐賀のがばいばあちゃん 👵🏼

Join the Intermediate Book Club here!

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

Week 4


Start Date: April 23rd
Previous Part: Week 3
Next Part: Week 5


Week Start Date Chapter Page Count
Week 4 April 23rd Chapter 5, 6 22

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:


Mark your participation status by voting in this poll.
(Please feel free to update your status whenever you like!)

  • I’m reading along
  • I have finished this part
  • I’m still reading the book but I haven’t reached this part yet
  • I am no longer reading the book

0 voters


Chapter 5
There were some nice and some sad scenes in this chapter. I liked the grandmother urging her chicken to lay eggs for Akihiro and the teachers establishing a tradition of exchanging bento boxes with Akihiro on sports day every year. On the other hand it was sad to see how lonely Akihiro was on the day of his great success for which he had trained so much. I would have expected that at least his grandmother would come to cheer him on.
At the first conversation with the teacher I had problems to understand who says what. Especially when the teacher says 「先生、なんかさっきから腹が痛くてな。。。」. Is it normal that a teacher speaks of himself in the third person?


I heard somewhere that it is a special thing teachers do in elementary school to get the students to call them 先生. Normally you shouldn’t use that title which carries respect for urself at all.


I once was told that Japanese in general do that for a long time (waaay into Elementary School) and girls may even do it longer because it gives that 可愛い vibe :woman_shrugging:
So if an Elementary School teacher does that it might be to tune into the pupils‘ speaking pattern.

That’s in stark contrast with Western (I guess? At least German) kids who have usually learned the „I - you“ dichotomy by age 2.5 or so…


week 6:

I like the way the grandmother ignores how she is seen by other people and transmits this to her grandson. She doesn’t mind showing her poverty. Although Akihiro suffers from being an outsider, the experience of the autumn excursion shows that his grandmother’s practical ideas are not so bad after all.

I have difficulties with one sentence:




I have to say, this time the anecdote about the grandmother yelling at a chicken probably made her grow on me more than any other part, haha. As sad as the lonely sports days are, the teachers still looking out for him was rather sweet, and in a way that I connected with a lot more when it’s about kindness from others.

I remember somewhere also hearing the same exact thing as @downtimes , that referring to oneself as 先生 with younger students is part of a broader pattern of speaking to younger kids in a way that models how they are supposed to be treating the teacher.


Could you describe your difficulties a bit? Are you struggling with some part in particular?


Well, I understand the words, but not the meaning of the sentence. He was put in a situation where he didn’t feel sorry for the others? I would rather expect it the other way round: a situation where the others didn’t pity him. The double use of ‘situation’ (場合 and 立場) is confusing me, too.


“He didn’t feel sorry for the others” is a good start.
Maybe the 場合じゃない is confusing you?
It has a connotation of “not a situation to be doing …”, or “not a time to be …”, “this is no time to be …”. In this case, “He was put in a situation (立場) where it was no time (場合) to be pitying others”. (Because in his house, he was the one pitying the neighbour, but on the field trip, he was the one who was embarrassed.)


I’m finished with Chapter5 for this week. 6 is following.

My thoughts so far.

I had a problem with his tangent with the whole laying egg thing somehow. He said they had to eat them on the same day because they had no fridge. I happen to have eggs here that last 2 weeks without a fridge, don’t know what he is talking about to be honest.
I don’t even know why I’m bothered by this detail. He just tries to make the story sound interesting but the whole “flashback” seemed super convenient with the neighbour also being called ume…

Tbh the chapter would have been better without that part for me. Maybe I’m just a jaded, grumpy reader though :person_shrugging:

Was a bit sad that the grandma didn’t come ostensibly because of the whole “man your mum is old” thing. Though I don’t know if that is really the reason or just what he imagines the reason to be. Also that his mom couldn’t come for 5 years makes me said. It reads like she never even visited?

Liked that the teachers established the whole ritual like all the other readers in here.

I will post again after having finished CH6 later in the week.


I think he said that they can only eat those eggs that are laid on that day, though? (Because they have none in stock. Of course you could argue that they could stock them even without fridge, and I agree, but I guess they would always eat them straight away because food is scarce for them).


I think he’s just trying to set the context for him not being able to take a fancy bento to school although it was such an important day. :woman_shrugging:


This is the impression I had as well! Not a storage issue, so much as only getting a couple eggs to eat from time to time, which isn’t enough for two people to load up on.

I do think this shows Grandma’s lifestyle though, since they could have not eaten eggs for some days before in order to have eggs for his bento later… but maybe she was trying to keep his energy up all week since he was already depressed about his Mom not coming? It’s a lot of speculation hahaha


*Part way through chapter 6. Came to the part where another child trades dango for his tea. He mentioned it’s like わらしべ長者

I found a cute video on YouTube that shares one variation of this story he references! Thought you guys might like to see it too.

I love when studying turns into a kind of side-quest, where you get to learn a little history or culture :ear_of_rice:

*edit: this isn’t part way… I was on the last page of chapter 6 :face_with_peeking_eye:


I actually understood it the same way as @downtimes (and I actually had the same doubt). The whole sentence is

Of course, we didn’t have a fridge or anything either, so we could only eat the eggs that were laid on that day.
(implying that they couldn’t store the eggs for more than one day)

Otherwise I don’t get why he would mention the 冷蔵庫 at all.


Yeah, I see that it may be a bit strange that he specifically mentions the fridge. My take was it means that they did not have any in stock (because no fridge) and so (on that particular day) they could only eat those that were laid on that day. :woman_shrugging:
I think that’s one of those questions that we will never find out…


I took this to mean that they didn’t have other food to eat (because they didn’t have a fridge), and so they only had the eggs that were dropped for that day to eat


Just to make sure we’ve considered every possible interpretation, I’m going to put forward the possibility that they had to eat the eggs because they didn’t have a refrigerator to eat.


I just want to add a personal note as to why I have so much faith that the author isn’t hung up on not being able to refrigerate eggs—

As an American I was shocked to find that eggs aren’t refrigerated in Japanese markets, and kind of relieved to find everyone pops them into the fridge when they get home. now I live in the UK and have chilled out drastically on this egg culture btw haha

I heard from my husband’s parents that there wasn’t even a standard culture to refrigerate eggs in Japan until relatively recently.



I guess they probably ate the refrigerator already, that’s why they don’t have one.


Is it too late to take back everything I said? :rofl: This is the best interpretation hands down