For when you just have to say “At least it wasn’t….”

不幸中の幸い
(Fukouchuu no saiwai; “Happiness amidst misfortune.”)

Definition:

A cloud’s silver lining. A small consolation in hard times or sadness. A small mercy that things weren’t worse.

Breakdown:

This kotowaza is simply a noun phrase. 幸い (saiwai) is a noun indicating either good fortune or the happiness that arises from it. 不幸 (fukou) is another noun that attaches the negating (fu) to the kanji , changing its pronunciation and creating its literal antonym, “misfortune” or “unhappiness.” To the latter is attached the suffix ~(chuu), meaning “[in the] middle [of],” “during,” and so on. (no) is our associative particle. Literally, the phrase becomes “Luck associated with the middle of un-luck.”

Notes:

Supposedly, this saying can alternately refer to a blessing in disguise, although such usage seems to be rare.

Example sentence (source!):

「当たったのが生ものじゃなくて良かったって、そう考えれば不幸中の幸いって… …シャケだ~!」

(“Atatta no ga namamono ja nakute yokattatte, sou kangaereba fukouchuu no saiwaitte… …shake da~!”)

[“It’s good that what hit me wasn’t some raw food; if you think of it that way at least there’s a silver lining… …RAW SALMON!”]

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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