I am struggling to grasp the meaning of this expression 「そればかりか、〜Vるというようなことさえ、始めはしない」It comes up in the following sentence. The English translation is my best effort but I am guessing from the context.


Even if you tear part of a Shoji (sliding door) this never means that you have to replace the entire sheet of paper on one side. On the contrary cutting out the torn piece as a 15 cm square and pasting over a new piece is just the beginning of the story. First restore the torn area to its original state [ready for repair]....

[The piece then goes on to explain how after covering the hole with a new patterned piece of paper the Shoji is not just repaired it is improved.]

I think そればかりか is equivalent to だけではなく but my problem is 〜ことさえ、始めはしない:My guess is ballpark but at best clumsy.

  • 1
    I think it's「~~ことさえ(even that)、始めは(at the early stage, in the beginning)しない(they don't do~~)」, rather than 「始めはしない(don't start」
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 4:32
  • 1
    Could this use of ばかりか be a more formal version of ばかりでなく ? Meaning "not only this, but also.."
    – Jeemusu
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 4:35
  • 2
    すみません・・・I don't understand →「そればかりか is just facilitating the contrast in a similar was だけではなく.」Are you saying the そればかりか can be rephrased as それだけ(は)でなく? I think it's more like それどころか japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/5180/… They don't even 15センチの新しい紙を貼る, let alone/to say nothing of 全部取り替える.
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 4:57
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    I think the しない in 始めはしない negates 始め and that it implies you will eventually do「破れた枡の15センチ角ぐらいの紙全体を切り取ってそこに新しい紙をはる」. I think we used to repair Shoji by ① pasting a small piece of paper like this woody.blog.ocn.ne.jp/photos/uncategorized/2010/05/01/… when the hole is still small or there're not so many holes, then by ② replacing only the square piece like this doit.co.jp/howto/pc/howto01/018/images/H49-27-1-syouji2-1.jpg when the hole is big or there're 2~3 holes in one square and ③ finally replace the entire sheet when the paper is too old and yellowish, maybe...
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 14:42
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    ...just before the new year's day(お正月). ggrc.cocolog-nifty.com/photos/uncategorized/2011/12/24/… So the writer says ~~さえ、始めはしない, "even ② is not what you'd do at the early stage/in the beginning." Then you might want to ask: "Then what do you do in the beginning/first?" and the writer continues: "First(=まずは), you restore..." (But I think nowadays most people skip ① and ② and replace the whole sheet, because Shoji paper is not so hard to come by as it used to be.)
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 16:29

1 Answer 1


Based on the comments I am going to try to answer own question but should still be grateful for any additional input. (The sentence came from 総まとめ N2 読解 p110 if anybody is interested.)


In the case of Shoji, if one part is torn you would never replace the whole thing. In fact, in the first instance you would not even replace the paper of the torn 15cm square panel. First you restore the damaged area by pasting something like a coloured piece of paper in the shape of an autumn leaf over the torn hole....


1. The sentence has the structure S1ばかりかS2 where S1 and s2 are both negative:


In the case of C, you would never do A. Not only that but you would not even do B in the earlier stages (of C)

  • B being a lesser activity/action than A.
  • Also note that when S1&S2 are both negative ばかりか can be replaced by どころか.

2. Some understanding of context and maintenance of Shoji helps:

The sentence comes from an essay on how it is easier to replace modern machines in the entirety when one part breaks down. The writer draws a contrast with the maintenance of Shoji, which often come with panels (or panes?). A small tear is patched over with a pretty piece of paper, which from the writer's perspective, makes the Shoji even prettier. Eventually as the number of tears grows and the Shoji gets shabbier a whole sheet or perhaps event the Shoji would be replaced. (See links in Chocolate's comments for more background)

I think (!) 枡の15センチ角 refers to a 15 cm square pane on the shoji. (枡 being used for the square boxes in which sake is served or the box seats around the Sumo dojo. 角 is square)

References: (1) Dict of Intermed. Jse Grammar p11, (2) Comments above

  • 3.こそ→そこ.(切り取って、そこに、~~を貼る)
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 9:25
  • @Chocolate:あー、また失敗しました。ありがとう
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 11:43

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