Whether you are a beginner or intermediate, let's break down a few famous lines from Natsume Souseki's I am a Cat.

If you would like to read the entire first chapter (which is kind of a standalone short story), click here.

While the story may be too challenging for beginners, I highly recommend all students of Japanese memorizing at least the first line. It's about a cat who would love to spend all his time napping but ends up critiquing the humans (and cats) around him. Learn more about the story or listen while reading by clicking here.

Let's go through a few fun lines from the story.

I am a Cat...

吾輩(わがはい)(ねこ)である。名前(なまえ)はまだ()い。

Translation, Notes, and Vocabulary


The most cruel of the human species...

吾輩(わがはい)はここで(はじ)めて人間(にんげん)というものを()た。しかもあとで()くとそれは書生(しょせい)という人間中(にんげんじゅう)一番(いちばん)獰悪(どうあく)種族(しゅぞく)であったそうだ。

Translation, Notes, and Vocabulary


About his master, the scholar...

(うち)のものは大変(たいへん)勉強家(べんきょうか)だと(おも)っている。

当人(とうにん)勉強家(べんきょうか)であるかのごとく()せている。

Translation, Notes, and Vocabulary


The truth as seen by the cat...

吾輩(わがはい)時々(ときどき)(しの)(あし)(かれ)書斎(しょさい)(のぞ)いて()るが、(かれ)はよく昼寝(ひるね)をしている(こと)がある。時々(ときどき)()みかけてある(ほん)(うえ)(よだれ)をたらしている。

Translation, Notes, and Vocabulary


He can be honest too...

なるほど(いつわ)りのない(ところ)だ。

Translation, Notes, and Vocabulary


Andrea del Sarto...

「へえアンドレア・デル・サルトがそんな (こと)をいった(こと)があるかい。ちっとも()らなかった。なるほどこりゃもっともだ。(じつ)にその(とお)りだ」と主人(しゅじん)無暗(むやみ)感心(かんしん)している。金縁(きんぶち)(うら)には(あざ)けるような(わらい)()えた。

Translation, Notes, and Vocabulary

The last line...

名前(なまえ)はまだつけてくれないが、(よく)をいっても際限(さいげん)がないから生涯(しょうがい)この教師(きょうし)(うち)無名(むめい)(ねこ)(おわ)るつもりだ。

Translation, Notes, and Vocabulary


I hope you enjoyed this quick look at a few fun lines. If you feel ready to tackle the story, please click here for the audio and an English translation. If you are a beginner, I would recommend at least memorizing the first line. You'll be amazed how useful it is in conversation. 

Lastly, if you like this kind of content, please become a Makoto+ member by clicking here. Not only will you support us, but (more importantly) you'll also be supporting your Japanese language learning journey. Makoto+ has tons of material with new lessons weekly.

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