Paul Ryan’s next plan for American health care

Nah, it would still cost rich people a bit of money.

二階から目薬
(Nikai kara megusuri; “Eye medicine from the second floor”)

Definition:

A frustrating situation where things don’t go as you want. Alternately, a roundabout way of doing things that doesn’t produce satisfactory results. Like trying to give somebody eye drops by dripping them from the second story of a building while they’re standing at street level.

Breakdown:

This noun phrase consists of the number-counter 二階 (nikai), the second floor of a building, marked by the particle から (kara), “from,” as being the origin of some motion or action, and compound noun 目薬 (megusuri), “eye medicine,” i.e. eye drops. One can imagine a verb, and or the phrase ように (you ni), “like,” but any such additions have been elided and are not used in modern Japanese.

Notes:

Apparently some people miss the point by assuming that the eye medicine manages to get into the eyes properly, and end up interpreting this phrase to mean “a lucky shot,” “a fluke success.” This is an error.

One variant phrase replaces the second story with 天井 (tenjou), “ceiling.” (I find myself imagining Spider-man.) A more obscure one replaces the eyedrops with 尻炙る (shiri aburu), “to warm one’s butt,” with the image of trying to warm oneself in the winter at a fire one floor below.

This is the に entry of the Kyoto iroha karuta set.

Example sentence:

「兄貴が姪っ子達を説得してみても、子供の心のわからない兄貴にはやっぱり二階から目薬だった。ちょっと失笑せざるを得なくて、兄貴を怒らせちゃった」

(“Aniki ga meikko-tachi wo settoku shite mite mo, kodomo no kokoro no wakaranai aniki ni wa yappari nikai kara megusuri datta. Chotto shisshou sezaru wo enakute, aniki wo okorasechatta.”)

[“My older brother tried to convince our nieces, but he doesn’t understand how kids think, so of course it didn’t go anything like how he expected. I couldn’t help laughing out loud, and kind of made him mad at me.”]

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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