Informal Book Club - 春琴抄 - 🎸 ❤

This has been briefly discussed before, but making it more official now. This is a call out that a few of us were interested in doing an informal book club around 春琴抄 | L52. It’s a short work, only 63 pages, and available for free on Aozora Bunko. There are also Youtube readings available.
It was published in 1933 and my vague understanding of the plot is it has something to do with a guy who falls in love with a blind music teacher. I’ve heard it’s a wild story - let’s go! :fire: :heart: :guitar:


Looking at the piece online it does have multiple clear section breaks. I’ve listed them below for reference. Only partial sentence starts are given to avoid spoilers. Please use the section to denote to other readers where you have read up to so they can determine if it’s safe to unspoil your comment.

Section Starts with
1 春琴、ほんとうの名
2 近頃ちかごろ
3 春琴伝は続けて
4 音曲の道
5 春松検校の家
6 おしゃべり
7 春松検校が弟子
8 いずれの楽器
9 春琴伝に曰く
10 昔は遊芸
11 佐助は泣き虫
12 鵙屋もずやの夫婦
13 この時春琴が生んだ
14 伝にいわ
15 肉体
16 女で盲目
17 鶯に次いで
18 彼女はいわゆる
19 鵙屋もずやの家でも
20 鴫沢しぎさわてる
21 一説に春琴
22 前記天下茶屋
23 佐助は春琴
24 佐助痛く
25 わざわいを転じて
26 師匠の仕事
27 春琴は明治

In this style of informal club, you read at your own pace but we start off together to allow for easier discussion (and spurring each other on! :smiley: ). Please use spoilers for all commentary about the story and note which section you’ve read through.

With that in mind - a poll!

Do you want to read this story with us?
  • Yes! Bring on the old, weird lit :fire:
  • Yes, but I won’t because it’s hard/I’m busy/life is full of disappointments
  • Maybe, I’m up in the air on this
  • No :scream:
0 voters
When would you want to start reading?
  • Now!
  • 1 week from now (Week of March 4th)
  • 2 weeks from now (Week of March 11th)
  • 3 weeks from now (Week of March 18th)
  • Other (will specify as comment)
0 voters

Look at me, being overly optimistic again. But like… it’s a short story… how hard can it be? :clown_face:(famous last words)


Does anyone have any ideas on how to track reading progress on this if I’m using the Aozora version? The natively progress update seems to be all page-count based.

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Percentage, perhaps?


You could load it into an eReader and do percentage or pages that way, yeah. Or do a simple division of parts to get a percentage. It wouldn’t be a perfect division but it’d be close enough.


So we have about as many votes as I was expecting to get so I’m going to call this as kicking off on March 4th since it has just as many votes as the next week, and we did have someone voting for now as well who didn’t vote for the later options. Seeing as that’s only a wait of 2 days (possibly less depending on your timezone) I think that’s fair.

Looking forward to reading this with you all! :tada:


I’ve read the first two sections. I’m getting the hang of the writing style (it’s very different from 痴人の愛!) but there’s definitely more vagueness than I’m used to.

I think for myself I’ll aim for 1-2 sections a day since at least so far it seems a rather slow build up.

My understanding thus far is we have two dead people, the lady was a hottie but there’s pretty much only one pic of her from when she was 37 but looked ~28. She went blind sometimes in her teens. She and a 検校 had an affair of some kind? But she was also a 検校? The titles confuse me tbh.

I’ve read other Aozora pieces around this level of difficulty but they were all <10 pages :cold_sweat:

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I’ve finished the first 6 sections, which are around 15%. I actually started reading the paperback copy of this but quickly switched to digital, since the first couple pages slammed me with new vocab. :sweat_smile: I definitely get why this has a high difficulty grading, but I think this is a great challenge for me and feels perfectly within that nice stretch zone where I can improve. So, yay for that I suppose! :partying_face:

I was also surprised by the writing style - I’ve read 痴人の愛、卍、細雪、 and various short stories from 谷崎潤一郎 and every time he has a different style! I guess this one feels the most similar to 細雪 so far. But, you can kind of tell Sasuke is going to be Joji levels of simp, because he is way too into Shunkin as a little girl for just being her servant :crazy_face: . That + the subdued documentary feel will be interesting!

That first section kind of gave away where the story is going… 温井検校 is 佐助, so we can surmise that they were lovers and he also became blind. :melting_face: I wonder how that happened?

About the titles…検校, I found this definition on google which explains it well:


More info about the system here:


I finished section 9 - Shunkin makes Sasuke practice for 10 hours and hits him in the head when he messes up and says 阿保、何で覚えられへんねん. :joy: What a mean teacher. I think Sasuke loves that though. I am listening along with the audiobook and the Kansai-Ben there was particularly cute in contrast to her actions.


Working my way through this slowly every day, but I am now up to part 18! :muscle: Entering the last 1/3rd ish. This story feels much longer than a novella, somehow. :rofl:

Just a few random thoughts:

Section 12 - Shunkin gets pregnant with what is presumably Sasuke’s baby, gives birth, gives it away because she doesn’t want to marry him, and then moves on with her life all within a chapter. I have whiplash. :woozy_face: She is certainly an interesting character, though - full of pride and sensitive about her disability, so she refuses to “stoop” beneath her class to marry someone like Sasuke who is a servant…even though everyone around them is pushing it. She essentially gave up her own child due to pride…

Section 16 - This section about うぐいす was fascinating! At any point in history, people who had too much time and money were certainly getting into crazy hobbies like keeping fancy pet birds. :crazy_face: I particularly found the info that people would travel to someone else with a nightingale’s home to have their bird learn the other bird’s song interesting. Was there some kind of network where people knew the songs and cries other people’s nightingale’s made? Haha


I haven’t read past section 3 yet and am not sure I have the mental energy for 4 tonight, but making a post to keep you unblocked from posting again (since I think there is a 3 post rule on threads you didn’t make).


Oh thanks, Cat検校! :saluting_face:


I’m up to part 3 as well. I’m finding the youtube reading super helpful just to aurally break up the long sentences.

I “read” it once in college, so I mostly remember the plot, but at the time I was really relying on my classmate to help me parse the meaning. Actually trying to get the full meaning of it is so much harder this time than just skimming.


I’m reading along with the audiobook, finished the first 8 sections so far. The audiobook is divided into 7 sections of 20/30 mins each, so I was kind of thinking I might go by those…

It’s really quite different to 痴人の愛! I don’t know if it’s all that similar to 雪国…? But the lack of punctuation is certainly a theme. :joy: The audiobook has been great for not missing any of the sentence endings within a huge run on paragraph.

Even so, since I’m only stopping sometimes to look up some words and reading along at 100% speed otherwise, I’m certainly not getting 100%. It feels somewhat around 80/90? I’m not terribly lost (I don’t think) and I get what’s happening, but I’ll probably re-read this eventually.

That what I also said after 雪国… I have yet to do so. :joy:

As for the story so far… Not sure what to think yet, except nope, people being mean to you does not mean your special. :roll_eyes:


I finished 春琴抄 today! I am still collecting my thoughts, but I really enjoyed the entire story. It felt like this complete little world that only the main two characters lived in and I was completely drawn into it. :eyes: But oh my god…(spoilers for section -edit, it is much later- 23 onwards) the scene where Sasuke blinded himself was so gruesome and difficult to read. :face_vomiting: I can’t even imagine doing that to myself….the thought sent shivers down my spine. In a way, it’s weirdly (weird in an old Japanese aesthetic type of way) beautiful and profound that he did that to himself for Shunkin, but he also did it just as much for himself to preserve his fantasy of her. A very healthy relationship dynamic! :crazy_face:

The edition I read contained some additional essays at the end about Tanizaki’s life and the role of “vision” in the story. I was completely unsurprised to find out that Tanizaki’s mom was apparently a real babe and he has some kind of weird mother complex, recollecting how beautiful her skin looked when they bathed together in his childhood. It certainly was/is interesting to find out how his childhood and early life shaped his writing! :slightly_smiling_face:


I’ve been wondering, bungaku, why have you been marking progress in two different books on Natively?

Just been kind of curious since I saw the updates in the feed.

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If you’re interested in more details about his early life, Tanizaki wrote an autobiography covering his childhood years:


I added the aozora short story since that’s the version most users would probably find, and I wanted to rate/grade it. I read the Kadokawa version that contained additional essays, though.

I certainly am! I will add this to my list.


I definitely get that too! Every page is just so chock-full of things happening, all the time!

I’ve read part 14 so far, so spoilers up to there…?

That said, I’m not sure I’m able to comment in the contents so much. It’s just too much, haha. So they moved in together but they’re still denying any relation beyond student-teacher, sure, whatever floats your boat.

I’m more interested in all these tantalizing tidbits we get about their interactions. They’re really well done. I’m sure we all have an image in our hear of their relationship, even when nothing much is explicitly told.

I am still holding out for actual juiciness, though, haha.

I’ll be away for work the rest of the week and I’m not sure how that will influence my reading yet. I may possibly take a bit of a break from this book.

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Just finished part 5 (I knocked out 2 books recently, back to work on this one and a few others):


casual discrimination :sparkles: I actually have been trying out a different youtube reading and she just straight skipped that line :sweat_smile: