The sunny ant of the high seas

待てば海路の日和あり
(Mateba kairo no hiyori ari;
“If you wait, there will be ideal weather on the sea-routes”)

Definition:

Good things come to those who wait. Do your best to endure when things are bad, because they will get better. Even if current stormy weather prevents you from setting sail, the simple passage of time will be enough to bring good weather suitable for sailing.

Students of history or followers of current events may take exception to the optimistic fatalism of the phrase, arguing that it takes decisive action to bring about “good weather,” while inaction only invites malice to cause ever-worse storms. That said, Japanese hardly lacks for sayings expressing the importance of decisive action. There also exist places and times, in cases that truly are beyond one’s control or influence, for the patience counseled here.

Breakdown:

We begin with the verb 待つ (matsu), “to wait,” in conditional form. The following clause begins with the noun 海路 (kairo), “sea route,” connected by the associative particle の (no) to the noun 日和 (hiyori), the state of which is described by the verb あり (ari), “to be,” in sentence-final form.

Notes:

This is the ま entry of the Osaka Iroha karuta set.

The saying may be contracted to just 待てば海路. Apparently the original phrasing used 甘露 (kanro), “nectar,” instead of 海路, but usage has shifted over time so that the latter is more common.

Example sentence:

「家の坊やがさ、雨が降ってるのにどうしても公園に行きたくて、ずっと駄々を捏ねてて。私が待てば海路の日和ありと撫でようとしても、全然聞いてくれないの。もう十分だわ!」 「まあまあ、駄々っ子も待てば海路だよね」

(“Uchi no bouya ga sa, ame ga futteru no ni dou shite mo kouen ni ikitakute, zutto dada wo konetete. Watashi ga mateba kairo no hiyori ari to nadeyou to shite mo, zenzen kiite kurenai no. Mou juubun da wa!” “Maa maa, dadakko mo mateba kairo da yo ne.”)

[“My boy really wants to go to the park even though it’s raining, so he’s been whining the whole time. I tried to calm him down by pointing out that good things come to those who wait, but he won’t listen! I’ve had enough!” “It’s alright, a child’s whining is also something that will pass with time.”]

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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