Week 6: 小川未明童話集 - Ogawa Mimei’s Collection of Children’s Stories

I tend to think that when the furigana seems to point to a different word than the kanji, it’s best to go with the furigana, as the kanji may just be an alternative way of writing the word. These are children’s stories after all, probably meant to be read out loud, so it must be the sound of the word that matters most. Here’s what a 蔀 (しとみ) looks like:

I think it’s more likely than a 壁板 in this context, which seems to be just a wooden wall covering.


Curiously, according to furigana.info, across all of Aozora Bunko, 壁板 is かべいた a quarter of the time, しとみ a fifth of the time, and したみ the remaining, uh… eleven-twentieths of the time. More than half, basically.

Which I find odd, because 下見板したみいた, with an extra 板 tacked on, are these things:

I really wish I knew the reasoning behind some of these furigana choices. Whevener it comes up, it seems like the words take a reading that’s different to what’s in the dictionary far more often than not.


Here’s an answer on Stackexchange that I found interesting, on the subject of furigana and kanji not matching. A quote I found particularly relevant:

Obviously, I don’t know who it is who says that, and whether they truly know what they’re talking about, but it’s something I’ve been suspecting so it felt right to me.

PS. I’ve been trying to find illustrations of 大きなかに just in case someone had happened to illustrate this particular part, but I haven’t had any luck yet. In an audio narration I found (I wanted to check the reading), it seems the dream was skipped enitrely.


“They”, clearly.


Sometimes in manga authors use kanji for katakana terms as well right? And I think some countries with katakana names have kanji, too. At least that’s what I’ve seen in Jisho. It’s a bit of a meta approach to language, but why not :slight_smile: .

They do provide furigana so we know what to expect. Fair game to me :grin:.


I’ve read through both parts now and I have to say it’s nice to have some “mental break” between stories before your head gets a little worn out. Probably an early-days thing. Nonetheless some question emerged. Some of them were instantly answered by reading @NicoleRauch’s post. So thank you for that! Also thank you to @2OC3aOdKgwSGlxfz as well; I didn’t quite understand the fox part. The others were:

In 金の輪
から at the end of a sentence

Shortly after the beginning of the story we have the sentence 「かつてこんなに美しく光る輪を見なかったからであります。」Does the から at the end roughly translate to our “since”? So “Since he had never seen such a beautifully shining ring”?

This と's structure

「けれど、いつまでもその少年の白い顔、微笑とが太郎の目に残っていて、取れませんでした。」The provisional of this と comes right after it, right? This would be a little different from the English sentence structure as far as I can tell. Or does the condition that accompanies this と come before in an implicated way?

In 大きなかに
The title

Uh, what exactly does the title mean? “Big Crab”? Sorry if this is a dumb question but I really can’t figure it out. This is the curse of WaniKani and I don’t just say that because of the かに. :eyes: I often get lost when words don’t have Kanji. Often - after thinking about it - I will be like “oh that word is written here!” which is funny. Also, I’d much rather have this problem instead of struggling with Kanji. So no regrets here.


Do we have “always” and a provisional here? If so, can it be taken as “Even though he always goes to sleep when the sun comes down (…)”? Sorry, I don’t really know how to map out the sentence for you. It’s about half into the story in relation to this week’s breakpoint.


Correct. Sometimes in translations the から is put to the front of a sentence as “because” - Because he has never seen such a beautifully shining wheel before.

I think I understood this sentence a little differently, but I might be wrong:

However, both the white face of the boy and his smile remained in Tarou’s eyes forever and never faded.

Usually と acts as a provisional if the preceding item is a verb in a non-past tense, like すると, 見ると. At least that’s how I’ve seen it used often.

Yeah, I think it’s the crab - カニ.

What do you mean by provisional? なら is sometimes used for emphasis, like これなら - (specifically) this one.

EDIT: Okay, I think I understand what you meant by “provisional”. なら is a very soft provisional and can be translated as such, but in many contexts it doesn’t define a strict condition.

I think in the case of いつもなら the いつも + なら is a little more abstract and I think it can be translated to “normally”. Also, Nicole’s breakdown of the sentence is very good:

In 金の輪:

Since, because, it’s all good. What から does is give a reason, in this case explaining the sentence just before: 太郎たろうをみはりました。 Taro opened his eyes wide. (Why?) Because he had never seen such beautifully shining hoops before.

Like @FirstMate-san said, this と is just a simple “and”, connecting two nouns. The comma is misleading (they so often are, I just try not to notice them as much as possible).

In 大きなかに

いつもなら - なら is a hypothetical form of the copula, something like “if it were”. And いつも can mean always but by extension it can also mean usually, regularly, etc. So yes, I think your translation works just fine. If it were always/the usual sounds clumsy in English, but if we replace it with normally like @FirstMate-san suggests, it makes sense.

As for the title, I guess so. All-kana words where you would expect kanji are always confusing. I’m waiting to read the rest of the story to make sure.


By the way, how does everyone feel about stopping in the middle of stories?
Like @LastStand pointed out, it’s nice to have a mental break between stories. I like letting one story sink in before proceeding to the next one. It’s also a little unsatisfying to stop halfway through a story, not knowing where it’s going. I understand they are all of varying length, and some may be too short or too long for one week, but I still feel like it would be neater to discuss one story per thread instead of parts of stories. Thoughts?
(Looking at the reading schedule, I see this will only happen one more time, so I guess it’s no big deal)


I must say I also found it a bit strange to finish the one story and start the next one straight away without this “mental distancing” in between, but it might have been more extreme for me as I read them both in the same day, while a slower reader might naturally have a break between them?

It will actually happen twice - we will spread two stories over three weeks, cutting both of the stories in the process.
Those two stories in question are ~14 and ~15 pages, so in order to avoid the cutting, we could move them to the end of our schedule and read them in one week each?? If the majority agrees, that is… (The obvious drawback is of course that those stories are somewhat longer than the ones we had before, so not everybody might be able to keep up…)
If you think that might be a good idea, I will set up a poll closer to the weekend (when most people might have read this week’s assignment).


I think because of textbooks we might be paying too much attention to the commas, even though we know they serve mostly as pauses :smiley: .

I would probably read the whole thing anyway out of curiosity :smiley: . The first story was short so one evening, but the second one took me 1-2 days. That being said, I usually over-analyze the text, take notes, etc.

14-15 pages each? Woah, that’s quite a bit :smiley: . I might even switch to the Aozora Bunko online reader app, otherwise I’ll get lost in the text.

Yes, I agree moving them to the end of the series might be a good idea. We’ll manage to develop good pacing by then so they might not be as troublesome.

Also yes to having a break between stories. Good idea!

I just finished the second story (yes, it was a crab - legs, meat and all). Not quite sure what to think of it. Sort of light, but… I might’ve missed the take-home? :sweat_smile:

EDIT: Spoilered out the spoiler


Well, the ring and the crab story together are about 17 pages, so :woman_shrugging: :joy:

And if you could maybe spoiler your remarks for next week’s reading, that would be appreciated! :sweat_smile:


Well, in your defense, a lot of the Ogawa stories seem to leave us with a “huh”-feeling at the end so far :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I think we see these kinds of stories in western fairy tales as well (take the little match girl, for example). I think it might have something to do with the time these were written. Child deaths were a lot more common then, and many children probably had to deal with loss. I can imagine that these stories were a good way for parents to broach the subject and start a conversation about this.

Thank you again for the explanations @NicoleRauch ! They immediately answered a few questions I had :pray:

I agree. I would rather have a separate thread for each story. I specifically avoided the thread this week until I finished the second story because I didn’t want get any spoilers about the second half.

Speaking of…

@FirstMate-san could you please put remarks like these in a spoiler tag or better yet save it until the week when we actually discuss the rest of the story?

We could also keep the schedule as is, but only discuss the first story in the first week and leave the discussion of the second story for the second week.


Of course! I am very sorry. I got ahead of myself.


I can very much relate to your sentiment, but I’m not very clear on how to carry this out. To make it more concrete:

This week, we were reading story A and story B.1. Next week we will be reading story B.2.

Now we could have a thread for story A (easy enough, no issues here) and a thread for story B. Which would mean that we’d post into the same thread for two consecutive weeks. This is how the book clubs started out (we’d have one thread for the whole book), and it became quite messy and complicated. I’m especially concerned that people who are trailing a bit behind will bump into stuff from the second week, which might create the same problem (people don’t want to read the thread during the first week because of fear of being spoilered)?

For the other two stories, it will be a bit worse even, I guess…
In the first week, we will read story C.1, in the second week it will be C.2 + D1, and in the third week we’ll read D.2.
Again, I could set up two threads, one for story C and one for story D, but we will have people post in each thread during two consecutive weeks which might cause the same issues.

Was that what you had in mind, or did I misunderstand you?


We always try to use spoilers anyway, so if people behave I don’t think it should be a huge problem. I quite like the idea of having one thread per story.
On the other hand, we could try to keep things even tidier by reading a story per week, whatever the length. A poll could show whether the majority would be okay with that or not. There are always people reading behind schedule anyway, as well as people reading ahead.
A thread per story, whether it spans one week or more, would be better for future readers too - much easier to look for answers in one thread than two, and much easier to know where to post in case they have any more questions.


Well, my suggestion was that you would only open the thread for story D in the week in which we read to the end of story D, but that would mean that we wouldn’t have a thread at all in the week for C1, if I understand you correctly, and it would also mean that people can’t ask questions during the first week if they need help, so maybe that’s not such a good idea after all.

Good point!

And I agree that doing a poll is a good idea.


Thanks for your suggestions @omk3 and @wiersm - I just wanted to make sure I fully understood your ideas.

I will set up a poll in the home thread, probably on Friday. Depending on its outcome we can adjust the schedule and/or the threads that will be used. :+1:


Here are a few sentences that I was having trouble with this week.

In 金の輪, after the other child appeared for the second time, there are the following two sentences:


Is the first sentence saying that it didn’t seem strange to Tarō and is the second sentence saying that the other boy did not give the impression of being a kind friend? I would expect it to be the opposite… Am I misreading something here?

And in 大きなかに I had two questions about verb conjugations.

When the grownups (the 家の人たち) are telling 太郎 that おじいさん probably found a place to stay, they say:


Here, 降られて is in the passive tense, right? So this is saying something like (literal translation so not good English :wink:): “Surely, because the weather is bad, he would think that it would be trouble if he was rained/snowed on midway”? Or is this again some kind of Keigo thing? :grinning:

A bit later when Tarō doesn’t believe that his grandfather would stay overnight somewhere, it says:


Now this こられる is Keigo, right? (Because Tarō is thinking respectfully about his grandfather.). I think I saw this こられる form a few more times (maybe also in the other story). It is just the passive form of 来る, right? I’m not completely sure how it is used here (is it like くれる and indicates that the grandfather wouldn’t do that to Tarō or is it really used as “to come” in that Tarō doesn’t believe that his grandfather would come to stay overnight somewhere?).

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Regarding the first sentence I think 太郎は不思議に思えてなりませんでした can be translated as Tarou couldn’t quite figure out…. The thing with 不思議に思う is that it expresses being curious or pondering over something. And some constructions are so flimsy that it’s hard to translate them directly into English.

The second sentence is in general kind of weird, but has なる in the negative like the first one. I would interpret the entire sentence like this:

(Tarou) couldn’t (help but) feel that this boy, who he has never until now seen before, is somehow his closest friend.

I actually had to triple check this with Genki, because I so rarely see 来る being used in passive voice :man_facepalming: . Yes, that’s the keigo passive.

From the perspective of the entire story, I find it very interesting that both the parents and Tarou, and even the narrator refer to おじいさん in this passive voice keigo. The only exceptions were, I think, when Tarou got more agitated and started questioning his grandpa when he returned from his crab adventure.