I am a Cat (Chapter 7 a) Section 211 Study Guide

Practice text with full furigana

いくらじゃらしていて確然かくぜんたる手答てごたえがない。蝉取せみと妙味みょうみじっとしのんでっておしいくん一生懸命いっしょうけんめい尻尾しっぽばしたりちぢましたりしているところを、わっと前足まえあしおさえるときにある。この時つくつくくん悲鳴ひめいげてうす透明とうめい羽根はね縦横じゅうおう無尽むじんふる。そのはやこと美事みごとなる事は言語ごんご道断どうだんじつせみ世界せかい一偉観いちいかんである。はつくつく君を抑えるたびいつでも、つくつく君に請求せいきゅうしてこの美術的びじゅつてき演芸えんげいせてもらう。それがいやになるとめんこうむってくちうち頬張ほおばってしまう。蝉によると口の内へ這入はいってまで演芸をつづけているのがある。蝉取りのつぎにやる運動うんどう松滑まつすべである。これはながかく必要ひつようもないから、ちょっとべておく。松滑りまつすべようにおもかもれんが、そうではないやはり木登きのぼ一種いっしゅである。ただ蝉取りは蝉を取るために登り、松滑りは、登る事を目的もくてきとして登る。これが両者りょうしゃである。元来がんらい松は常磐ときわにて最明寺さいみょうじ御馳走ごちそうをしてから以来いらい今日こんにちいたまで、いやにごつごつしている。したがって松のみきほど滑らないものはない。手懸てがかのいいものはない。足懸あしがかのいいものはない。――換言かんげんすれば爪懸つまがかのいいものはない。その爪懸りのいい幹へ一気呵成いっきかせいあが。馳け上っておいてがる。馳け下がるには二法にほうある。ひとつさかさになってあたま地面じめんけてりてくる。一はのぼったままの姿勢しせいをくずさずにしたにしてりる人間にんげんがどっちがむずかしいかってるか。人間のあさはかな了見りょうけんでは、どうせ降りるのだから下向したむきりるほうらくだと思うだろう。それが間違まちがってる君等きみら義経よしつね鵯越ひよどりごえとしたことだけを心得こころえ、義経でさえ下を向いて下りるのだからねこなんぞは無論むろんたくさんだと思うのだろう。そう軽蔑けいべつするものではない。猫のつめはどっちへ向いてえていると思う。みんなうしれている。それだから鳶口とびぐちのようにものをかけてせること出来できが、ぎゃくちからはない。

Rough translation

However much I paw or claw it, there's no perceptible response. The real attraction of cicada capture lies in that moment of surprise, when through patience and stealth I've zeroed in on my quarry to find it twitching its tail in and out for all its worth, sending up cries of "oshii" and "tsuku-tsuku." I pin it down with my front paw. Its "tsuku-tsuku" transforms to a death shriek, and its thin, transparent wings flail in all directions. The speed and splendor of this panic defies description. Indeed, in the world of cicadas there's no finer spectacle. Each time I pin down another "tsuku-tsuku" crier, it's the beauty of this artistic flourish I cherish. When I've finally had my fill of it, I take the liberty of stuffing my cheeks with the performer. In some cases, the flourish continues, even as I'm clamping my jaws.

After cicada capture, another form of physical training is pine sliding. It doesn't warrant a lengthy description, so I'll just touch on the basics. The term "pine sliding" may evoke visions of sliding down pine trees, but such is not the case. On the contrary, it's another form of tree climbing. However, while the objective of tree climbing in cicada capture is to capture a cicada, the objective in pine sliding is the climb in and of itself. This is the key differentiator. The pine tree, from days of yore, since fueling the fire to warm Saimyōji in Tokiwa, up to this present day, is scraggy to a fault. As a consequence, there's nothing less slippery than the trunk of a pine. And there's nothing with better handholds or footholds. -- in other words, there's nothing with better clawholds. With such good clawholds, I can race up those trunks in a flash. Having raced up, I hurry back down. There are two methods of hurrying down. One is inverted descent, or descending with head toward the ground. The other is reverse descent, or descending tail first, maintaining the same orientation through climb and descent. A question for humans - which do you imagine is easiest? Most humans, having never thought deeply on the matter, likely reckon that given one's heading downward, descending head first is easiest. This is not correct. In your minds, no doubt, is the image of Yoshitsune charging down from Hiyodorigoe Pass on horseback, and if Yoshitsune can charge down head first then a cat, of course, can well enough follow suit. It's by no means so simple. In which direction do you imagine cats' claws grow? They all curve toward the rear. Like firemen's hooks, they're good for grasping and pulling, but poor for pushing off.

Vocabulary

じゃらして play with; toy withいて scratch; claw確然かくぜんたる definite; positive; clear手答てごたえ reaction; response蝉取せみとり cicada capture妙味みょうみ charm; attractionじっと patiently; with restraintしのんでって approach with stealth; sneak up onおしいくん "oshii" fellow一生懸命いっしょうけんめいに with utmost intensity; for all one's being尻尾しっぽ tailばしたり extendちぢましたり retract前足まえあし front pawおさえる hold down; pin downとき moment; instantつくつくくん "tsuku-tsuku" fellow悲鳴ひめいげて let forth a cry; send up a shriekうすい thin; light透明とうめいな transparent羽根はね wings縦横じゅうおう無尽むじん this way and that; all aboutふるう flutter; waveはやい rapid; swiftこと situation; state of affairs美事みごとなる fine; splendid; superb言語ごんご道断どうだん indescribable; defying descriptionじつに truly; indeedせみ世界せかい the world of cicadas一偉観いちいかん most magnificent sight I; meたびに each time; every time請求せいきゅうして request; call for美術的びじゅつてき artistic演芸えんげい performanceせてもらう have (someone) show (me)めんこうむって take the liberty to do; indulge oneself in doingくち mouthうち inside頬張ほおばって stuff one's cheeks; fill one's mouth (with food)這入はいって enter; go intoつぎ next; after運動うんどう exercise; physical training松滑まつすべり pine (tree) slidingながく lengthy; at length必要ひつよう need; necessityべて mention; touch onう say; mention; bring upまつ pine treeすべる slideおもう think; imagineかもれん it may be that ...木登きのぼり tree climbing一種いっしゅ type; sort; kind (of)目的もくてき objective; goal両者りょうしゃ both things; the two things difference; differentiator元来がんらい from the start; fundamentally常磐ときわ Tokiwa (place name)最明寺さいみょうじ Saimyōji (name under which Hōjō Tokiyori toured incognito) 御馳走ごちそう hospitality以来いらい since今日こんにち this day; the presentいたる come (to); arrive (at)ごつごつ rugged; scraggy; angular; gnarledしたがって accordingly; as a consequenceみき (tree) trunk手懸てがかり handhold足懸あしがかり foothold換言かんげんすれば in other words; put another way爪懸つまがかり clawhold一気呵成いっきかせい at one stroke; in a single stretchあがる run up; dash upがる run down; hurry down二法にほう two methods; two approachesひとつ oneさかさ upside downあたま head地面じめん earth; groundけて turn toward; point towardりてくる come down; descendのぼった climbed; ascended姿勢しせい position; posture; form tailした down; belowりる come down; descend人間にんげん humans; human beingsう ask; questionってる knowあさはかな shallow; superficial了見りょうけん ideas; thoughts; notions下向したむきに facing downwardりる run down; hurry downほう alternative (of two choices)らく easy; simple間違まちがってる incorrect; mistaken君等きみら you; you all義経よしつね Yoshitsune (Minamoto no Yoshitsune; military commander; 1159–1189)鵯越ひよどりごえ Hiyodorigoe (place name; a steep mountain pass)とした dropped down (from)心得こころえて know; be familiar withねこ cats; a cat無論むろん of course; naturallyき facing downwardたくさん adequate; sufficient軽蔑けいべつする make light ofつめ clawsえて grow; be formedうしろ back; behindれて be bent鳶口とびぐち fire hook; firefighter's hookもの objects; material; thingsせる draw in; pull closerこと出来できる can ...ぎゃくに converselyす push awayちから capability; capacity