Fashion victim, food victim

京の着倒れ、大阪の食い倒れ
(Kyou no kidaore, Oosaka no kidaore;
“Bankrupted by clothing at the capital; bankrupted by food in Osaka”)

Definition:

In general, the people of Kyoto have a weakness for fine clothing, while the people of Osaka have a weakness for fine dining. A broad statement about the general character and priorities of the two areas. This may not seem universally applicable, but I think what sticks with people is the basic idea. We like simple categorizations, and here’s a tidy and evocative format for presenting them: people from X town are so into Y that they’re willing to let themselves be ruined financially over it. Isn’t that sweet?

Breakdown:

This one’s another repeated noun phrase. In each case you have the extinct classical verb 倒る (taoru), “fall down,” in conjunctive form, which allows it to act like a noun. (This noun, taore, can specifically take on the meaning of “bad debt,” as in “fall into debt.”) Each half precedes this noun with another verb in conjunctive form: first 着る (kiru), “to wear,” and then 食う (kuu), “to eat.” Each noun phrase is attached with the associative particle (no) to a place name (a proper noun). In the first case, (kyou), “capital” – referring to Kyoto, which is just plus (to), “city.” And in the second case, 大阪 (Oosaka), which has been standardized in English orthography as Osaka.

Notes:

There are many, many variations on this kotowaza, characterizing many different locations. (The majority seem to reference food, as it turns out.) Some come in pairs or even triplets while others stand alone. But as a rule, if you want to characterize a city or region by its tastes, go ahead and use the [place] [focus]倒れ pattern.

If you’re a beginning student of Japanese, be warned: you’ve probably been taught that “to eat” is 食べる (taberu), and 食う (kuu) may be a new and exciting alternative. While both verbs are in use, these days the latter is considered “rough” speech and generally won’t be used outside of informal, often masculine, company.

Example sentence:

「私たちの町にも、京の着倒れ大阪の食い倒れみたいな気質があるのだろう」

(“Watashi-tachi no machi ni mo, Kyou no kidaore Oosaka no kuidaore mitai na kishitsu ga aru no darou.”)

[“I wonder if our town, too, has a trait along the lines of Kyoto falling for clothing, or Osaka falling for food.”]

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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One Response to Fashion victim, food victim

  1. brinkling says:

    That’s really cool, thank you for sharing! I used to live between the two cities and I hadn’t heard that before.

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