Seriously, try to avoid travel during a pandemic, even if it’s for love.
(Horete kayoeba senri mo ichiri;
“If you travel while in love, even a thousand ri feel like one.”)
If you’re traveling to meet with someone you love, then even the longest road feels short; even a thousand-ri trip would feel like a brief stroll. More broadly, we gladly do things for those we love without care, where otherwise it might feel like going to a significant amount of trouble.
We begin with the verb 惚れる (horeru), “to fall in love (with),” in conjunctive form and followed by the verb 通う (kayou), “to commute,” in conditional form (or if you will, in perfective form and taking the conditional suffix ば, ba). The next clause begins with number-noun 千里 (senri), “one thousand ri,” with the emphatic particle も (mo). Last comes the number-noun 一里 (ichiri), “one ri,” with anything else elided.
My sources tell me that this comes from a “popular song” (俗謡, zokuyou), although details such as its name (if it had one) or even the time period of its origin remain unclear. However, they do note that the song continues 逢わずに戻ればまた千里 (awazu ni modoreba mata senri, “but it’s another thousand ri if you can’t meet and have to go home again.” Yikes.
(“Ano hito wa sakka shibou datte shitteta kedo, watashi no tame ni jojishi made kaite kureru nante igai, to iu ka, nanka shinjirarenai. Hontou ni horete kayoeba senri mo ichiri mitai da ne.”)
[“I knew they wanted to be an author, but it caught me off guard that – or maybe, I kind of can’t believe that – they’d go and write a whole epic poem for me. I guess it’s true that love makes all tasks lighter.”]