Mochiya knows best

Intro: This week’s saying is almost a synonym with last week’s 蛇の道は蛇.

餅は餅屋
(Mochi wa mochiya; “The mochi-maker [knows] mochi”)

Definition:

For the best mochi, go to a mochi-maker (instead of trying to make your own, or depending on the work of an amateur). If you need work done in a given field, it’s best to ask a specialist in that field. No matter how devoted or skillful an amateur or hobbyist is at a given task, they won’t be as good as a professional or specialist. In a way, this kotowaza is one of the fundamental underpinnings of modern economics: efficiency and improved results through specialization. It’s the inverse of “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

Breakdown:

Only two nouns and a particle in this one; it’s a phrase rather than a full sentence. (mochi) is a rice cake; 餅屋 (mochiya) is a rice-cake shop, maker, or seller. (wa) is the topic-marker particle. Put them together and you get “As for rice cakes, rice-cake-shop.”

Notes:

What is mochi? It’s a cake – a lump, if you’re not feeling generous – of glutinous white rice that has been cooked and then pounded (traditionally with a wooden hammer in a large stone mortar that has been polished smooth on the inside) until it’s a single mass. Mochi may be eaten warm on the spot or saved; dried bricks for soup can even be bought in Japanese supermarkets. It may be eaten as-is; flavored with bean paste, kinako powder, or other sweet fillings or toppings; or toasted and eaten with soy sauce and other savory flavorings.

Example sentence:

「さすがに餅は餅屋で、グラフィック・アーティストが想像以上に素敵なロゴマークを描いてくださった」

(“Sasuga ni mochi wa mochiya de, gurafikku aatisuto ga souzou ijou ni suteki na logomaaku wo egaite kudasatta.”)

[“You really do need a specialist for some things; the graphic artist drew us a better logo than I imagined.”]

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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