Week 1 of 月の裏側 🌒

Welcome to the 1st week of 月の裏側!


Week Starting Date Chapters Pages Length
Week 1 November 6 Chapter I 6-30 24

Home thread | Week 2

Discussion ground rule suggestions

  • Any spoilers, for the current chapters must be behind spoilers or detail curtains. When we get further in you don’t need to hide details that were revealed in previous chapters.
  • Questions on vocab, grammar, nuance, and the like are both welcome and encouraged. If you’re not sure if it’s a spoiler, assume it is and use one of the above options to hide the text.
  • You are encouraged to speculate and guess wildly
  • Be kind about other peoples’ questions and wild guesses :sparkling_heart:
  • Even if you don’t read the chapter(s) in time, you are still encouraged to post in the thread for that reading once you have finished it. I advise not reading ahead in the threads as you may see spoilers.

Are you joining us for week 1 of 月の裏側?

  • I’m reading along this week
  • I have read this part already
  • I’m catching up later
  • I’m just following the discussion :popcorn:
0 voters

Happy reading! :waxing_crescent_moon:


@omk3 the “reading along?” poll seems to have closed already?

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Oof, thanks for noticing! That’s what I get when I’m already sleepy and just copy an existing poll instead of making a new one. :see_no_evil:

@cat @nikoru @mita @SophieShiori could you please vote again in the new poll? I had to delete the old one because the system wouldn’t let me reopen it.


Done - I’m just lurking out of curiousity for this one :grin:


I need to catch up on 本好き this week, so I’ll probably be a little late starting here, but I’ll plan to keep up with the normal schedule once I get caught up!


I feel like in this sentence on page 9 I ought to be able to tell which way round the almost one sided love was, but I can’t :frowning:

多聞の妻はフランス人だ。彼よりも二歳年上で、来年は不惑を迎える。東京の私立大学の客員教授として日本にやってきていたのだが、友人を介して知り合い、情熱的に ― ほとんど一方的にだが ― 愛された。

Luckily the following sentence clarifies it a bit…

I also feel like the author is maybe using just a notch trickier vocabulary than they did in Eugenia – for instance 不惑 in that sentence I had to look up.

Haven’t quite finished this week’s reading yet but it’s pretty good this far. (The clear individual characterisations within a handful of pages are an interesting contrast with how the POV character in Medium is still a barely described placeholder a hundred pages in…)


I also had to pause there and think about it as the sentence was a bit unclear… I think it was ジャンヌ liking 多聞 more, as it goes on to say he wonders これでよかったのかな and his friends call their marriage ジャンヌの戦略. With that context, the first sentence became clearer and 多聞 can be seen as the subject. Strange, though.

This is my first 恩田陸 read but it seems like the style is unusual compared to her other works. It’s not exactly hard to read, but sentences like the one referenced above are giving me pause.


Oh, a puzzle! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I haven’t started the book yet (I want to read the むらさきスカート essay first, which should happen today) but I’m game here :grin:

You are saying that this sentence is unclear, which confuses me a bit (and probably opens up a learning opportunity) because to me it simply looks like 多聞の妻は [long description about this woman] 愛された。 So without knowing any context, my conclusion would be that he loves her? What am I missing that makes this so unclear to you? :thinking: (And judging from @bungakushoujo’s comment it is actually the other way round? That’s even more interesting how the topic can change here - is it because of the だが? :thinking:)

Whut :cold_sweat:


The sentences that follow are (apologies if there are typos as this was typed on mobile):

So it sounds like it is ジャンヌ♡→多聞.
But honestly I’m not even 100% sure and could be wrong. (You could interpret it the opposite way too!) This type of detailed grammar analysis of Japanese to find a subject is not my biggest strength.

Feels like it is something the 編集者 of the book should find before publishing too, since I know even native struggle with this type of vague sentence sometimes. :laughing:


Finished the first chapter!

I really like the setting: water, water everywhere. Canals and rain and cloudy skies. And a vague sense of menace coming from the water (or at least 多門 doesn’t seem very comfortable near it).

I suspect the town is based on Yanagawa

I too didn’t quite get the sentence you’re all discussing. I can see it working both ways.

Another sentence I didn’t quite get comes at the end of the chapter: 「うん、それもいいね。そういうことでもいい。私は作り話をしている。どこまで君を騙せるか試してみる、というのは?」It looks to me like he’s admitting he’s been making things up, but then they continue to discuss it in all seriousness. Is he basically saying, I may be making it up but humour me? Or does he deny it and it goes over my head? I’m so bad with dialogue. :weary:

Favourite scenes: When 多門 meets 白雨, and when he steps away from the canal so that he doesn’t see his reflection next to the cypress. :grin:

I don’t think the vocabulary is trickier than Eugenia. There’s some specialized vocabulary related to canals and such, but Eugenia had its tricky parts too. Nor do I think the writing isn’t typical 恩田陸. The only thing that surprised me is that we got clear and straightforward character descriptions early on. It seems her usual vagueness will focus elsewhere :wink:


Mmm, I’m curious to know whether this is actually a confusing to natives category of sentence, or if it’s just that my understanding of the grammar isn’t solid enough to pick up the nuances.

On 愛された in particular, I wonder if there’s a viewpoint thing going on here – use of the passive like this I think means putting yourself in a position of empathising with the person having the されるing done to them, but because our narration viewpoint is basically Tamon it doesn’t work for him to be the person doing the action to the other person? Or maybe I’m way overthinking it :sweat_smile:


I took this as being him saying “you can take it as me pulling your leg if you like, as long as you play along and listen to me”. He suspects something strange, maybe even supernatural, but he has no proof; he probably wishes he was just making it up…


So I ran a bit of an experiment and asked one of my (Japanese) language partners, and she also initially said that he loves her, but when I showed her the rest she corrected it.

And then I asked @Myria who said “Well clearly she loves him:exploding_head: and when I asked her how she knows this she replied:

Myria outsmarting the natives ;-)

First of all, it’s written from his perspective. The woman is “his wife” and has no name.
Then we have the verb 知り合う which I interpreted as “he got to know her”. It wouldn’t make sense at this point if this meant that she got to know him. Of course, before that we have a short section from her perspective, how she got to Japan, but this is rather a list of facts and not a description of internal feelings like 知り合う which only takes place internally. Of course it could be related to either party technically, but if we talk about two persons, then my assumption is that the person who is the active part (which is him in my understanding) is actively doing the 知り合う。And therefore, because the 知り合う person is 愛される, it must be her who loves him.

I will ask one or two other Japanese persons to double-check this opinion, but I found it rather convincing.


I find this very convincing, as the 知り合う was my first sticking point. It felt strange that we would be talking about the wife meeting him through a friend (instead of him meeting her - 知り合う is intransitive and means get to know each other, but I think this still stands), even with the は after the wife, when we’re basically following his point of view. The second sticking point was the passive. It’s his point of view, so isn’t it strange to talk about something he did in the passive (my wife was loved by me? who says that?). Oh, and that は, it doesn’t necessarily mark a subject of course. The subject can still be him. But then again I couldn’t be sure, as there may be nuances I’m missing. So thanks @Myria and @nikoru!


Somewhat off topic, but sharing for anyone here who might be interested in it!

This entire discussion is reminding me of another vague passage like this from 伊豆の踊り子 by 川端康成 that was featured as an except in 本の読み方 スロー・リーディングの実践 | L30?? by 平野啓一郎. He goes over it in depth and offers suggestions for reading passages like this. He also notes that Seidensticker, the English translator, got it wrong which I think is funny. Even the best of us still get confused. :face_with_hand_over_mouth: Apparently a lot of readers couldn’t understand this passage and 川端 had to go back and edit it.

Sharing the excerpts from the book for anyone who is interested! (Sorry that they are just photos, I don’t have it as digital :disappointed_relieved:)


Hirano instructs us to find who said goodbye and who nodded:

The relevant sentence is underlined:

About the vagueness and translation…

Strategies for deciphering vague sentences:


Do you recommend that book?

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We do know her name from a line of dialogue immediately before this sentence, but yes, overall the narrative PoV is following this guy.


I do! I actually got a lot more out of than I was expecting, and I think it has made me a better reader in general. I think back to the contents quite often now when reading other books, especially ones that are more demanding.

I have to caveat that by saying I personally have a love-hate relationship with 平野啓一郎 and find him a bit pretentious. Since this is non-fiction about his own personal reading style, the pretentiousness comes through strongly, but everything he writes is very well formulated and logically consistent so it didn’t bother me a lot.

Ok back to talking about 恩田陸 and 月の裏側 hahaha :face_with_hand_over_mouth:


Thanks for the rec! Looks super-interesting especially with the books he is taking examples from (e.g. Kafka :crazy_face:)

SCNR, but: Book club anyone? :laughing:


Yes, but only at the point when I’m next going to be doing a book order, which likely won’t be til next year at the earliest…