This kotowaza brought to you by Ed Sheeran

(Thusly.)

対岸の火事
(Taigan no kaji; “Fire on the far shore”)

Definition:

Somebody Else’s Problem. Something that doesn’t impact you in any way; “No skin off my nose.” Like a fire seen from the opposite shore of a body of water, from which the viewer is completely safe.

Breakdown:

This simple idiomatic noun phrase connects two compound nouns using the associative particle の (no). The primary noun is 火事 (kaji) “fire” (in the sense of a thing burning that shouldn’t, not an intentional flame like a campfire or cooking fire), and the dependant noun that modifies the fire is 対岸, (taigan), “opposite shore.”

Notes:

This saying also has several variations, such as 川向こうの火事 (kawa mukou no kaji), “a fire on the other side of a river.” Some variants replace the fire with 喧嘩 (kenka), “fight” or “argument.” A closer variant simply replaces 火事 with synonym 火災 (kasai).

Example sentence:

「この世のあらゆる人・物・事は繋がっている故に、真の意味での対岸の火事と云える状況はなかろう」

(“Kono yo no arayuru hito・mono・goto wa tsunagatteiru yue ni, shin no imi de no taigan no kaji to ieru joukyou wa nakarou.”)

[“All things, and all people, in this world are connected; therefore, there cannot in any true sense be a fire too far away to burn you.”]

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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