Too mad right now to come up with a witty title

I literally searched for kotowaza about betrayal

(Shishi shinchuu no mushi; “A bug in a lion”)


Someone ostensibly a member of an organization who nonetheless causes it harm. Someone who rewards kindness with enmity. Like a parasite living within a lion and protected by the lion’s strength, yet eating out the lion from within until it dies. Or like a certain political party within a nation, protected by that nation’s strength, yet gutting its government and taking life-saving services away from its people in order to make a handful of plutocrats richer. Treachery from someone who was supposed to be on your side. Ugly, hypocritical betrayal.


We begin with the noun 獅子 (shishi), “lion,” followed by the noun 身中 (shinchuu), “within the body.” This is connected by the associative particle の (no) to the noun 虫 (mushi), “bug,” in this case referring to parasitic vermin.


It’s possible to use the first four characters of this phrase as a stand-alone yojijukugo. A longer version of the saying gives the mushi an action, 獅子を食らう (shishi wo kurau), “eats the lion.”

Pronouncing 身中 as shinjuu or rendering it as 心中 (“inner thoughts” or “double suicide”) would be considered an error.

Today’s kotowaza comes to us from the Brahmajala Sutra (梵網経, Bonmoukyou) of Mahayana Buddhism.

Example sentence:


(“Kono shishi shinchuu no mushira wo ashita no asa sugu harai nozokete mo, mou osoi, ososugiru. Rainen ga machidooshii!”)

[“Even if we drive out these traitorous parasites first thing in the morning it will be late, way too late. I can’t wait for next year!”]

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.
This entry was posted in Japanese, Kotowaza and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s