Week 5 - Stories of the Japanese Prefectures (Absolute Beginners Book Club)

都道府県のおはなし 低学年 - Stories of the Japanese Prefectures :jp:

Week 5 - Pages 22-25

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Week 6: Link

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Kanagawa-prefecture translation

The port city, Yokohama

Around the end of the Edo era, started trading goods with other countries on a wider scale. As one of the ports, ships loaded with goods went in and out of, Yokohama developed.
What do you think was the top products shipped from japan to foreign countries? The answer is raw silk thread. Raw silk thread is spun from the cocoons made by silkworms, it’s the thread silk is made from (lit.: it’s the silk’s thread). On the other side, the top item brought from foreign countries to Japan was textil made from cotton. After that came weapons made for battles bought from foreign countries.
When Yokohama opened its port, people from foreign countries gathered there and settled down. A lot of Chinese people came as well, valueing their own culture, building houses and built food stalls. That’s how the Yokohama Chinatown came to be.
Today, if you go under the gate of the Chinatown, there are no less than 500 shops. A very good smell is coming from each shop. Gyoza, fried rice, meat filled steamed buns… All of these originally came from China.

❶ Make the sentences about the development of Yokohama correct, fill in the blanks.
❷ At around the end of the Edo era, what was the top product brought from Japan to foreign countries? Fill in the two characters.
❸ Make the sentences about the beginning of the Yokohama Chinatown correct. Fill in the blanks.

Niigata-prefecture translation

A protected animal, the crested ibis (has the funniest latin name, Nipponia nippon)

Do you know the bird named “toki”(crested ibis)? They make muffled cries like “Taaa”, “Gwaa” or “Kakka” and similar, and fly with their necks extended like a stork or a crane.
Long ago there were a lot of toki accross Japan. However their numbers gradually decreased, wild toki went extinct.
On the Sado island of the Niigata-prefecture there are a lot of wild toki. Today there is the “Sado toki protection center”, carefully raising the toki brought from China. It would be nice if you could see wild toki again, huh?

❶ What kind of birds are toki? Fill in the blanks.
❷ Compared to long ago, how did the number of toki change? Circle the correct one!
ア It increased
イ It decreased

Toyama-prefecture translation

What’s a mirage?

“Mirages” are when something that isn’t there, seems like it is, it’s a natural phenomenon.
When the difference between the temperature of the sea or ground and the air
temperature is big, the light is bent in the atmosphere.
In the Toyama-bay visible from the city Ouzu of the Toyama-prefecture, every year several times, most years around 20 times, mirages appear. In reality, it’s the view of far away buildings and the like, that appear stretched and turned upside down. Mysterious, isn’t it? (I chose mysterious, because I like it)

❶ What is the natural phenomenon called, when there appears to be something that isn’t there? Fill in the 5 characters!
❷ How do far await buildings appear in the Toyama-bay? Circle the correct answer!
ア Their shape changes
イ Their number changes


Similarly to the Narita passage last week, I feel like the Kanagawa passage forgot to link the history of Japan-overseas trade back to Yokohama Port specifically. It got distracted by Yokohama Chinatown instead. (Also joy, a brand new reading for 生…)

For Niigata, a little confusing that they didn’t write とき in katakana like animal names often are. Though fun fact: the trains on the Joetsu Shinkansen, which runs to Niigata, are named Toki.

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It’s Kanagawa.

Thanks, corrected it

Do you mean き in 生糸? It’s not brand new, you should know the reading from WK level 8: 生地.

I thought they wouldn’t use katakana at all in this book, but they used it for the とき’s cries. There were already a lot of hiragana animals in the Hokkaido section.

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Bold of you to assume I remember any words from level 8. :stuck_out_tongue:


I remember 生地 because it took me 2.5 years to burn it. :fire:


Page 22

I was wondering why they used ようです on the end of this sentence:


And then, it seems that “arms” for wars were also purchased.

This reference talks about ようです being used to indicate your observation based on inference, or your judgement based on what you have observed about a situation. The article discusses the difference between そうです and ようです.

But I don’t see why the author would have to infer things here, they just appear to be reporting historical fact. Perhaps there is another meaning I’m missing?

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I’m no expert by any means, but ようです in some example sentences could mean “I’m afraid…”, so could this maybe be “Afterwards I’m afraid they started buying weapons for battles from foreign countries”?

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I’m not certain, but maybe the reason that ようです was used was to highlight that importing weapons wasn’t open like with もめんや毛から作られたおりもの?

I think that since the article is about the 幕末 (Bakumatsu) period in 横浜, maybe the reference to foreign weapons might be to the gun runners operating in the port along with other traders. Please feel free to correct me if I misinterpreted the sentence.

BTW: Thanks for link to the article – I wasn’t at all clear about the difference between そうです and ようです.

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What do the dots next to the hiragana on page 22 mean, with かいこ? Sorry if this has been asked before :wink: . I know I saw at least one more case of this somewhere earlier in the book as well. The first thing I think of is that it signifies this word should be written in katakana, but looking around this doesn’t really add up to me.

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They are ぼうてん or side dots and they are used for emphasis, similar to italics in English. They have lots of uses, here like last time I think they are just making it easier to parse the start and end of this more unusual word in the middle of a little stream of hiragana. This is my previous post on this.


I think of katakana-as-emphasis as being similar to italics. Furigana’d interpuncts I think of as punctuated. for. emphasis. :slightly_smiling_face:

Kanagawa translation

Kanagawa Prefecture

The port city, Yokohama

Around the end of the Edo period, Japan started trading goods with foreign countries more extensively than before.
As one of the ports where ships loaded with goods came and went, Yokohama continued to develop.

In those days, what do you think was the top product that was transported from Japan to foreign countries?
The answer is silk thread.
Raw silk thread is silk thread spun from cocoons made by silkworms.
Conversely, the top product transported to Japan from foreign countries was textiles made from cotton and wool.
After that, it seems that weapons for war were also bought from foreign countries.

Then, when the port at Yokohama was opened, people from foreign countries also came to gather, and settlers also appeared.
Many Chinese people came, and then cherished their own country’s culture by constructing buildings and building shops where they could eat.
That was the start of the Yokohama Chinatown.

These days, if you pass under Yokohama Chinatown’s dazzling gate, more than 500 shops are standing in a row.
A good smell also wafts from these shops.

Gyoza, fried rice, meat manju…
Every one of these’s origins is a dish from China.

Regarding the sentence 中国人も多く来て、自分たちの国の文化を大切にし、たてものをたてたり、食事ができる店を作ったりしました。: is the し in 大切にし the particle, or is it the stem-form of します?


the particle, imo, it’s “since their culture was important to them, they built…”


Good question. I think I read as the particle but looking at the sentence again I wonder if the stem form makes more sense - the expression being 大切にする - to cherish. If it’s the particle then it feels like a verb is missing?

Sentence translation would then be -

…they treasured their own culture and did things like constructing buildings….

For what it’s worth Deepl translates it as the verb stem.


That’s the feeling I’m getting now too. In either case, I need to brush up on my understanding of the し particle anyway.

Niigata translation

Niigata Prefecture

The toki, a protected species

Do you know the bird called “toki”?
Toki make sounds in a dulled voice like “taaa”, “guaaa”, and “kakkaa”, and fly with their necks elongated like storks and cranes.

Long ago, there were lots of toki in Japan.
However, their numbers gradually decreased, and wild toki unfortunately went extinct.

Lots of wild toki lived on Niigata prefecture’s Sado island.
Now, there is the Sado Toki Conservation Center on this land, and toki sent from China are carefully raised.
It would be good to be able to see wild toki again, right?

This one didn’t feel too difficult! Those toki birds look kinda funny, but I like them.