As above, so below



Literally: above – leak – below – damp

Alternately: A poverty-stricken household; a dilapidated house. Water leaks in from above when it rains, and damp seeps up from below; a double threat not to be taken lightly in any region with a rainy season, especially if the houses are mostly made of wood frame, straw mats, and paper walls.

Notes: 湿 may also be pronounced shitsu without any change in meaning.

This phrase comes to us from the writings of our friend, Warring States era philosopher Zhuangzi (a.k.a. Zhuang Zhou) (Japanese 荘子, Soushi). Unlike some sayings and yojijukugo derived from the Chinese classics, today’s compound seems to be relatively rare in Japan.


A modern technique in which a water-resistant sheet in the crawlspace is covered in absorbent sand, from this “house support” company website.

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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