Some hard-core traditional Japanese culture, in a small convenient package

This is quite possibly the most famous yojijukugo in Japan. I’m not entirely sure how it took me so long to get around to it.


Literally: one – time (period) – one – meeting

Alternately: (Every time you meet someone, you should treat it as) a cherished once-in-a-lifetime encounter. Every time you meet someone is precious (because it might be your last). Focus on the moment with an open and honest heart.

Notes: 一期 is “one lifetime”; 一会 is “one encounter.” The nonstandard readings, even among the set of available Chinese-derived pronunciations (is often read ki, and is often kai), mark this phrase’s roots in Buddhist terminology and thought – but it doesn’t come to us from an ascetic monk. Rather, this four-character compound is said to come from a saying by one of the disciples of the tea-ceremony master known as Sen no Rikyuu, during the late 16th century. I could go on – this phrase unfolds and unfolds and unfolds into so many areas of Japanese history and culture – but perhaps the rest should be left as an exercise for the reader.

Strawberry! It's a pun!

This yojijukugo‘s become a commercial product too. Picture almost unrelated.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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1 Response to Some hard-core traditional Japanese culture, in a small convenient package

  1. Pingback: The sleeve’s edge; another life | landofnudotcom

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