(Okite hanjou nete ichijou; “Half a tatami awake, one tatami asleep”)


People should be satisfied when they have enough to live on, instead of hungering for unnecessary wealth and rank. There’s no point in chasing unreasonable levels of wealth. No matter how large your house is, you only use a half-mat area (about a square meter) to stand and a one-mat area (about two square meters) to lie down and sleep.


Again we have a repeated pattern rather than a proper sentence, lacking even in particles. We begin with the verb 起きる (okiru), “to wake,” in conjunctive form. This is followed by the prefix (han), “half,” and the noun (jou), a tatami-style flooring element (and an area of about 1.65 square meters). The repetition gives the verb 寝る (neru), “to sleep,” “to lie down,” again in conjunctive form, and replaces with (ichi), “one.”


The ultimate source of this saying supposedly lies in the Hanshi Waizhuan, a 2nd-century (BCE) collection of anecdotes and commentaries illustrating points made in an earlier text called the Book of Poetry or Book of Songs.

Example sentence:


(“Kekkyoku no tokoro, okite hanjou nete ichijou da to omoi, boonasu wo muda ni oikakeru no wo yamete mainichi rokuji kara uchi no ko no sewa wo suru koto ni shita.”)

[“In the end I decided that I was making enough money and didn’t need any more, and quit my pointless pursuit of the bonus in favor of taking care of the kid, starting from 6pm, each day.”]

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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