(Ame harete kasa wo wasureru;
“The rain stops and you forget your umbrella (hat)”)
As soon as a painful situation is over, the help one received is forgotten. When rain is threatening or falling people make sure to take an umbrella, but it’s all too easy for the umbrella to be forgotten and left behind as soon as the rain has stopped.
We begin with the noun 雨 (ame), “rain,” followed immediately by the verb 晴れる (hareru), “to clear up.” (One can imagine the subject-marker particle が (ga) here, but as is often the case it’s been elided.) Hareru appears in conjunctive form, leading us to the second clause of the sentence. This time the noun is 笠 (kasa)… which is a little complicated. I translate it as “umbrella” below, but the correct character for an umbrella is 傘 (also pronounced kasa). A 笠 is more properly a traditional conical or dome-shaped hat of the kind we mostly see nowadays as part of a Buddhist monk costume regardless of weather. In either case, the 笠 is marked as the object of a verb by the particle を (wo), and that verb is 忘れる (wasureru), “to forget,” in sentence-final form.
This saying is very close in meaning to 喉元過ぎれば熱さを忘れる, although with slightly different focus and nuance.
But in contemporary America, it’s all too topical: now that the days of abusive labor practices are a distant memory we see a sustained attack on unions and worker protections; now that Lake Erie is no longer polluted enough to catch on fire we see a sustained attack on environmental protections; now that the Civil Rights era and the lessons of WWII have brought a new set of laws and a semblance of equality, the forces of bigotry are twisting languages and laws to their own ends while threatening renewed violence. And so on and so forth. Don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t assume that your rights and protections are inviolate. Keep in mind that for evil to be victorious, the only requirement is for good people to do nothing.
(“Touzen daitouryou wa baka ja nai to sekaijuu no hitobito wa omoikonda ga, ame harete kasa wo wasureru you ni, iroiro yudan shite wazawai wo maneite shimatta.”)
[“The people of the world fell into thinking that it was natural for the president to not be an idiot. But like forgetting your umbrella once the rain has gone, we let down our guard and invited disaster.”]