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

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.


~てならない means “cannot help but” (so FirstMate translated it correctly). It’s a N2 grammar point.

思えてなりませんでした = couldn’t help but find it strange

気がしてならなかったのです = couldn’t help but think he was like his closest friend

Hope that helps.


Just read 金の輪 for now. The ending really caught me off guard.

At first, I actually misread 亡く as 忙しく, and it made sense when thinking how these stories usually remain in the air at the end. :smiley:


@FirstMate-san and @omk3, thank you so much for your remarks! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: Awesome how much you can learn in a book club. If I would have read something like that alone some things would just go past me for who knows how much longer. Getting this indirect feedback is valuable!

When it comes to the topic of splitting stories, it has been only a small inconvenience for me personally but I second/third(/…) the suggestion of having a designated thread for every story. I don’t know if this specific suggestion has been made before but would it be possible to stay in the same order and if a story happens to have X pages we just plan in two weeks instead of one?


I’ve added a poll to the home thread, which will hopefully allow us to find out how to proceed with the stories that are currently being split :upside_down_face:


I’ve not even started the second half of this week’s reading, cause I don’t like to leave a story hanging like that. So I’ve been trying to dodge spoilers while waiting for next week’s reading to start so that I can read it in one go.

Thanks for the polls, @NicoleRauch!


I have a few questions from the first part of 大きなかに:


First of all, this きそう. I understand it’s くる and そう, but does it mean that it looked like it might snow? Or that it seemed that it had been snowing? Or is it unclear?
Also, 雪がが. Is this snow and hail?* Snow in large snowflakes? Snow or hail?
And this に at the end of both clauses, is it to give a reason for why it was cold?
so many questions for one little sentence…


I’m not sure how to break down the first part. Is it でも and つれられて? (he was lured by foxes? so what is でも doing?)
Or is it で and もつれられて (もつれる apparently means to get entangled, but this makes less sense. And what about that で? I don’t think so.)


This is probably a very basic question, but that’s what I get from not learning grammar in any kind of structured way I guess. 床の中へ入って. This te form connects this getting into bed with what comes next, but in what way? Does it mean “he got into bed without sleeping”? Or does it mean “without getting to bed and sleeping?”. The next part would suggest the latter, but is it obvious to anyone with more solid grammar understanding than me?

Here is how I would break it down

I’m not sure why it’s a double が here (could be because 雪 is the subject and が marks 雪 and the later 霰が降ってきそう is just a feature of the snow?), but I would translate it as “it seemed snow was coming down like hail” (resembling hail?). Not quite sure how to put it into proper English :sweat_smile: .

here the に is a part of the 〜ず(に) grammar point which works similar to the 〜ないで grammar point.
So 日の光も当たらずに、 I would translate as “the Sun wasn’t shining either” or “without the Sun shining either”

The full breakdown might make more sense from the end, I guess?
寒うございました。it was/became cold
雪が霰が降ってきそうに、With the snow coming down like hail
日の光も当たらずに、and without the Sun shining either

I think it was explained here when @2OC3aOdKgwSGlxfz had the same question a while back: Help understanding this phrase from the short story 大きなかに

Here is how I would look at it

In the case of 床の中へ 入って I think it’s just a regular “and” clause bridging to connect to the thing after, but without emphasizing these two things are strongly linked. That’s how I would interpret it.

Here the connection is a little more apparent:
Sitting under the lamp & being awake


It’s funny that the negative extends through the connecting て, isn’t it? I’ve seen this a bunch already but each time I doubt my understanding :joy_cat:

Just a small addition: Note that we have the ようとする - to attempt to - form at the end, but here it‘s in the negative, with an extra は thrown in for good measure contrast, so I would translate this as „without even trying to go to bed and sleep“.


It’s a relief that it’s not super obvious to even vastly more experienced readers than me! And thanks for the ようとする nuance, I had seen it but somehow skipped over it.

Thanks for the trip to the distant 2018 :grin: That was fun - and informative. Thanks for your answers too. although I’m still not entirely clear how 雪が霰が降ってきそう works


So I did some more digging and found this article: Japanese Grammar: Using "sou" (~そう) - How to Learn Japanese - NihongoShark.com
So it’s more than the usual “seems like” そう…

I think 降ってくる further emphasizes the dynamic nature of what’s happening and the “it looks like it’s about to…” makes more sense here. The 霰が降ってきそう might also be a whole expression so:
It got cold as if snow was about to come down like hail.


sorry but I think the wording is 「雪か霰が降ってきそうに」 :pray: :bowing_man: which would be ‘seems like hail or snow’ maybe?


That would make sense but I double checked and it really is が in the Aozora text. Are you saying its a typo? We found another typo in a previous story, so it would certainly be possible.