Just avoid immovable objects

…and you’ll be fine. Right?

(Danjite okonaeba kishin mo kore wo saku;
“If you do things decisively, even demon-gods will get out of the way”)


If you take decisive action backed by strong determination, there is little that can stand in your way. Where there’s a will, there’s a way – and there’s an unstoppable force pushing you down the way, so anything in your way had better get out.


We begin with the adverb 断じて (danjite), “decidedly,” attached to and modifying the verb 行う (okonau), “to carry out (an action).” The verb is in perfective form and takes the conditional suffix ば (ba), “when.” The above dependent clause leads us to an independent clause beginning with 鬼神 (kishin), “demon god(s)” or “fierce god(s).” This noun is followed by particle も (mo), in this case “even.” Next comes the noun 之 (kore), “this,” marked by the particle を (wo) as the direct object of the verb 避く (saku), “to avoid,” in sentence-final form.


In modern orthography, kore is usually written in hiragana as これ, while “to avoid” is usually 避る (sakeru), but the forms shown here are considered correct for the kotowaza. Meanwhile, replacing 避く with homophone 裂く, “to tear,” is an error.

This saying comes to us from the 『史記』 (Shiki in Japanese; the Records of the Grand Historian). The story goes that after the death of the first Qin emperor, an official named Zhao Gao (趙高, Chou Kou in Japanese) orchestrated a series of plots and assassinations and is credited (or blamed) for playing a big part in the fall of the Qin dynasty. Due to this association, the saying originally had a negative connotation – the sense that strong-willed malice can’t be stopped or checked, a rather chilling thought given contemporary circumstances as I write this – but it has since become an exhortation to give things your all when you really want to do them.

Example sentence:


(“Furusato no hitobito no shiawase wo mamoru tame ni, shichou ni rikkouho shiteiru Taneda-san ga tousen suru mikomi wa shoujiki na tokoro takaku wa nai ga, danjite okonaeba kishin mo kore wo saku to shinjite saigo made ganbarou to ketsui shita sou da.”)

[“To tell the truth, the chances that Ms. Taneda, who entered the race for mayor in order to protect the happiness of the people of her home town, will actually be elected are not high. But it seems that she has decided to fight to the very end in the belief that nothing can stand in your way when act with sufficient determination.”]

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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