Week 4: 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 4


Start Date: Sep 18th
Previous Part: Week 3
Next Part: Week 5


Week Start Date Chapter Pages 1951ed. Pages 2013ed. Page Count
Week 4 Sep 18th 7. 殿さまの茶わん12 135 69 8

Vocabulary List

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What with the overly polite language and the specialized vocabulary, this was one of the hardest things I’ve read in Japanese so far. It was worth it though, the story was really nice, and for once, not completely unexpected. The idea of the noble lord living in agony because of a little bowl was hilarious.

The vocab list is filled in for anyone interested, hopefully without typos. I tried to add some notes here and there for alternative readings and polite/humble language.

Two readings I'm unsure of

さむう - I wonder if this might be an alternative reading of 寒雨かんう (cold winter rain), or something else entirely.
まえ - Is the furigana a typo, or a reading I’m not aware of (and can’t find anywhere?)


It’s actually an adverbial form of 寒い (so actually the same as 寒く). I don’t know the full etymology but according to this discussion it sounds like it’s an old grammar form that is no longer in use? Fun thing is, I just researched this form last week because I came across it in another older book I’m reading, so it seems to have been used quite frequently back then.

Is this near the end, on the last page or so? In my ebook there is no furigana on it :joy_cat: so yes, I reckon it’s a typo.


I’m reading it online so no idea on pages, but it’s towards the end, yes. It’s in this phrase: たとえ、世間せけんにいくらまえのこえた陶器師とうきしでも .

At first I had the furigana turned off, for better practice I thought, but then I realized it’s worth keeping them on as they’re often so unexpected.

Ah, thanks, I was suspecting something like that but had no energy to look it up. :sweat_smile:


OK, that’s the phrase I was referring to as well. In the ebook there are not many furigana so I wasn’t aware of this error in the Aozora text.

(FWIW jisho also doesn’t know about such a reading, neither for the word nor for the kanji on its own: 名まえ - Jisho.org)


I told myself I wouldn’t tire myself out researching grammar that I’m unlikely to come across very often at this point, so no polite language/classical grammar. But I guess I can’t help it :sweat_smile:. You’re part right that this form is no longer in use. Apparently we still use it everyday in expressions like ありがとうございます and おはようございます。

from Classical Japanese blog:

And from Classical Japanese: A grammar (google preview):


I quite enjoyed this one - I think the thing that most threw me off about the polite language was the use of passive for the actions of the 殿様 - but I got used to that after a bit. I feel like the moral of the story was fairly clear in this one (art is nice, but don’t sacrifice utility for aesthetics when you want something that will be used)

作る vs 造る

So one thing I noticed was that つくる was used and seemed to have the same meaning as つくる when looking at English definitions. So I looked at one of the JP dictionaries I have in yomichan and saw that it has a 使い分け section that detailed the difference. From what I read, it seems like 作る is used for small or abstract things (like making a cake, or making a set of rules), while 造る is apparently used for bigger things and industrially made things (I guess maybe if you were talking about cakes made in a factory you might use 造る while a cake you made at home might warrant 作る?). If anyone has any additional clarification on this feel free to add it

A question about:「旅人は、その国に入りますと、いずれも、この陶器店をたずねぬほどのものはなかったのです。 」

So if I’m understanding correctly, this sentence is basically saying that “When travellers entered the country, there were none who didn’t go as far as to inquire about the pottery shop”? Feels like there’s a double negative here at least that’s slightly throwing me off. Would help if I could get some clarification


Yeah, you may come across polite language very often when interacting with shopkeepers or vendors (both online and offline). The 〜でございます is definitely an overkill, but both Tobira and Genki have nice chapters on 敬語. Especially Tobira where regular, polite and keigo expressions are compared side by side :slight_smile: .

To my understanding 造る means “to manufacture”, more than “to make”. Both are taught in Wanikani, by the way. 作る is also a general “to make” variant which can refer to groups of people as well, like in this article from NHK:
Here it’s used without kanji, though.

I think the seeming double-negative might be confusing, because いずれも can be used with negative tenses, so I would say the 2 negatives just even out into a positive meaning:

When the travelers entered that country, none of them as much as visited/inquired about the pottery shop.

EDIT: Looks like I just confused myself. My bad :man_facepalming:

たずね can be interpreted 2 ways, because that kana covers 尋ねる (to inquire) and 訪ねる (to visit).

Thanks for the clarification @NicoleIsEnough . Looks like 訪ねる wouldn’t make sense here, because the particle is を not に.


Thank you for looking into this!

Yeah, passive is the mildest form of sonkeigo. It can be a bit irritating tbh…

I thought so too. (But could you maybe spoiler that for those who haven’t read to the end yet?)
Also, I found this story to be the most “typically Japanese” so far. Especially as the potter in the end doesn’t gripe, doesn’t get punished, but just decides to change his way of working to better serve the needs of his customers.

Re grammar question

Yes, that’s the general meaning for me as well.
But if you look carefully, you can see that the negation is on the inquiring, so maybe (literally translated) it would be something like “nobody went as far as not inquiring about/visiting the shop”? ほど is one of these multi-concept, hard to translate words…

DoIJG has this example sentence for くらい

Borrowing from that, one might as well translate it as “nobody did not even inquire about/visit the shop” maybe?

That’s very typical of the roundabout Japanese way of phrasing things.

@FirstMate-san I think we are probably both right about 訪ねる/尋ねる actually… and it would be を in both cases as per 大辞林:

This is what 大辞林 says about it

If you look at the first definition, the examples are with を、so that wouldn’t allow you to distinguish the two cases, is my take…

And I think it would work either way anyways, as the intended meaning is “everybody was interested in the shop”, so whether they inquire or actually visit does not make such a big difference in the grand scheme of things, I guess…


Apologies, I’ve spoilered it now

Yeah that seems to line up with what I read - though I feel like it’s a case where looking at the Japanese explanation is probably more helpful overall than simple JP → English translations


Oh yeah, you’re right! I just did some digging as well and it looks like 訪ねる takes を as the particle. Interesting…

Also, looks we’re not the only ones confused by たずねる, because: 「尋ねる」「訪ねる」「訊ねる」の意味と違い - 社会人の教科書


When filling in the vocab sheet I wasn’t sure which one to choose, as they are both transitive according to Jisho. The reason I opted for 尋ねる was that the very next sentence ( そして、さっそく、その店にまいりました。) wouldn’t really make sense, or add anything otherwise.


It’s definitely leading to a lot of discussion about one sentence :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:. I interpreted the sentence as meaning that the shop was an essential visit for tourists.

Maybe it’s just a sentence that can be interpreted in multiple ways and maybe I’m just wrong, but my reasoning was based on the DoIJG saying that ほどのこともない means ‘not necessary’ and I figured that would apply to ほどのものもない as well. With the double negative it then becomes ‘necessary’ – ‘the shop was a must-visit for all tourists that came to the country and they all went to it as soon as possible’.


I have two vocab questions:

When the lord is at the farmer and it’s cold, there is this part of the sentence:


I’m not sure how that last part breaks down. Is うもう a word in that sentence? In that case, I’ve only found feathers/down as a possible translation, but that doesn’t seem to fit…

Then later when the lord asks about the farmer’s bowl, the farmer replies


Jisho (and the vocab list) gives broth as the translation for おつけ, but I don’t really see how that fits: would も then be the particle and うしまして the verb? I thought maybe おつけ was some prefix (お付け?) with もうす after it, but I can’t find anything like that in a dictionary. Instinctively, I would expect him to say something like “I have to admit that this is a very crude bowl” (since the next phrase is “I’m very sorry”)


I’m still reading the previous story, but I think I got the gist of it from the complete sentence:

As for seasons, it was already the end of Autumn and it got cold so a hot soup would warm up the body and it’s very tasty, but the bowl is thick so it shouldn’t burn hands in any way.

Not sure about the next one, but I can have a look at it, too.


You don’t explain how you came to that conclusion, but I guess you mean that うもう is the polite form of うまい? (Which is indeed the option I hadn’t thought of yet.)

Edit: I’ve added it to the vocab sheet with a note about the archaic form being used.


Ah, apologies. I suck at explaining Japanese :sweat_smile: . Yes, I meant that うもう would be like an archaic version of うまい. The Internet overall isn’t very helpful with this, unless you’re into feather mattresses, cushions, etc. :joy:

For the other sentence my understanding is that in おつけもうしまして, it’s the keigo おつけする interspersed with もう , so some form of つく, but no idea which one. “to bring”? もうしわけはありません is a bit of general keigo apologetic phrase you can add for even more politeness. That’s what I think at least. Not 100% sure.

That story is really hard to follow, because of the mass of keigo.

Okay, I see @omk3 got it. Looks like I need to polish my grammar. No idea where the つく came from.


You’re absolutely right that おつけ here makes no sense at all. It took me ages to break this down, and I’m still not sure I’m correct. So, according to Jisho, もうす can also mean to do apart from to say, in certain circumstances:

In that case, おつけ would be the stem of つける, presumably in the sense of “to bring alongside”.
Which would make the whole sentence I brought you a truly crude bowl.


I felt so discouraged while trying to read, I’ve been learning Japanese for a few months now and only recently did I start using WK, and I was wondering at what level should I give reading another shot?


I think so too. The ~うございます part looks like what we‘ve discussed before, so that leaves us with うもい. Which is not thaaat far from うまい😅 plus I was on good terms with Google for a change, and it gifted me this link:

which gets to the same end result.