174 - Reading a Scary Story

I have found while learning a new language, sometimes it is hard to really get interested in media in that language.

I have watched thousands of hours of Japanese TV, tried a hundred of different Japanese bands to listen to, and read dozens of books. However, I just don't find them as deep or interesting as media in English.

I have thought long and hard about this and I have hit upon a simple conclusion: Japanese words have yet to have a real impact on me; therefore, the feeling I get isn't as strong in Japanese when compared to the same words in English.

For example, I have heard and said the words “I love you” from a very young age, and when I hear these words, I can feel love, so to speak. So when I watch a movie and one character says “I love you” to another, I understand that feeling; the words evoke the same feeling in me, and I can connect with the characters. Not so much in Japanese. If I am watching a Japanese drama and a character says 愛してる(あいしてる) or 大好き(だいすき), I don’t feel the same connection.

However, there is hope! The one feeling that has broken through this lack of connection is FEAR. From very early on in my Japanese studies, I have been drawn to horror. In fact, some of the first short stories I ever read in Japanese were scary stories for children. As my studies progressed, I really enjoyed mystery novels and movies that are gory or scary.

I figure some of you are running into the same problem, so I have a simple solution: Let’s scare the crap out of each other!
I found a collection of short scary stories online and decided to go over one of them for this lesson. Since they were written for children, they aren’t too scary, but I hope you get the same shiver I did, and I hope that it will solidify some of these words and phrases in your head.

こども の ころ の はなし。
A story from my childhood.
Literally: “child + の + time + の + story
Note: 頃 means “at that approximate time,” and it usually used in a set phrase as 子どもの頃 like above to mean “when I was a child.”

こども の ころ、 ぼく は にかいだて の しゃくや に すんでいた。
When I was a child I lived in a rented 2 story house.
Literally: “child + の + time + I + は + 2 story + の + rented house + に + lived”
Note: ~階建て is a counter for “n-story house.”

ははおや も しごと を していた ので、 がっこう から かえって も じぶん ひとり の こと が おおかった。
Since my mother also worked, I was often home by myself after school.
Literally: “mother + also + work + を + did + since + school + from + return home + も + self + alone + の + こと + が + often”

あるひ、 ゆうがた おそく がっこう から かえって くる と、 いえ の なか が くらい。
One day, when I came home from school late in the evening, the house was dark.
Literally: “one day + evening + late + school + from + return home + come + と + house + の + inside +が + dark”

「おかあさ~ん」と呼ぶと、2階から小さな声で「はあ~い」と 応える声がする。
「おかあさ~ん」と よぶ と、 にかい から ちいさな こえ で 「はあ~い」 と こたえる こえ が する。 
When I yelled “Mom,” I heard a small voice answer “yes,” from the second floor.
Literally: “mom + と + call + と + 2nd floor + from + small + voice + で + “yes” + と + answer + voice + が + する”
Note: The ~ symbol in this case means an elongation of the word when you are speaking. So はあ~い, is much like the English “yeeeees.”

もういっかい よぶ と また 「はあ~い」。
When I called again, again I heard “yes.”
Literally: “one more time + call + と + again + yes”

じぶん を よんでいる ような きがして、にかい へ あがる。 
It felt like it was calling out to me, so I climb to the 2nd floor.
Literally: “self + を + calling + like + feeling + 2nd floor + へ + climb.

かいだん を あがった ところで また ははおや を よぶ と、 おく の へや から 「はあ~い」 と こえ が する。
As I was climbing the stairs, when I called my mother again, from the inside room, the voice said “yes.”
Literally: “stairs + を + climb + ところで + again + mother + を + call + と + interior + room + from + “yes” + と + voice + が + do”

奇妙な胸騒ぎを感じるのと、いっこくも早く母に会いたいのとで、奥の部屋へゆっくりと 近づいていく。
きみょうな むなさわぎ を かんじる のと、いっこくもはやく はは に あいたい のと で、おく の へや へ ゆっくり と ちかづいていく。
I slowly moved closer to the inside room because I had a strange premonition and I wanted to see my mother.
Literally: “strange + premonition + を + feel + のと + right away + mother + に + want to see + のと + で + inside + の + room + へ + slowly + と + got closer.
Note: ~のと~のとin this sentence is showing the reason for doing something. The narrator climbs up the stairs because he has a strange premonition and he wants to see his mother, のと is just labeling those reasons.

そのとき、 した で げんかん を あける おと が する。
In that moment, there was the noise of the front door opening below me.
Literally: “in that moment + below + で + entryway + を + open + sound + が + do”
Note: 玄関 is the small entrance space in which you remove your shoes in a Japanese house, after entering the front door. Even the smallest apartments have one.

ははおや が あわただしく かいものぶくろ を さげて かえってきた。
My mother hurriedly came in, the shopping bags hanging from her.
Literally: “mother + が + hurriedly + shopping bag + を + to hang from + return home + came”

「しゅんすけ、 かえってる~?」 あかるい こえ で ぼく を よんでいる。
“Shunsuke, are you home?” Her bright voice was calling me.
Literally: “Shunsuke + return home + bright + voice + で + me + を + calling”
Note: 帰ってる in this sentence in “the state of returning home.” So even though it is not past tense, she is asking if Shunsuke is currently at home.

ぼく は すっかり げんき を とりもどして、 かいだん を かけおりて いく。
I regained my composure and ran down the stairs.
Literally: “I + は + thoroughly + vigor + を + take back + stairs + を + rundown + go”

そのとき、 ふと おく の へや に めをやる。
In that moment, I look toward the inside room.
Literally: “in that moment + without reason + inside + の + room + に + look toward”

おく の へや の どあ が ききき と わずかに うごいた。
The door to the inside room creaked, moving a little.
Literally: “inside + の + room + の + door + が + creak + と + a little + moved”
Note: キキキ is an onomatopoeia that the door makes as it is creaking open.

ぼく は いっしゅん、 どあ の すきま に きみょうな もの を みた。
For a moment, I saw something strange through the crack in the door.
Literally: “ I + は + one moment + door + の + gap, crack + に + strange + thing + saw”

こっち を みている しろい にんげん の かお だった。
It was the white face of a person looking.
Literally: “here + を + looking + white + person + の + face + だった”

Traditionally scary stories are told in the summer in Japan to give you the cold chill you need during the hottest months of the year.
Did you get a cold shiver when you read this story?

This lesson was written by Cassy L., a guest contributor:

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