We’ll cross that non-bridge the instant we come to it

You can’t a ford to wait!

川越して宿とれ
(Kawa koshite yado tore;
“Cross a river; take lodgings”)

Definition:

A warning to think ahead and make arrangements just in case. Alternately, an admonition to take care of difficult or annoying tasks quickly instead of putting them off. Act sooner rather than later; don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.

Breakdown:

This phrase begins with the noun 川 (kawa), “river,” with particles elided but acting as the direct object of the verb 越す (kosu), “to cross over,” which appears in conjunctive form. This in turn points to the verb とる (toru), “to take,” in imperative form, in turn taking as its object (with particles elided) the noun 宿 (yado), “inn,” “lodgings.”

Notes:

Some versions of this saying will explicitly use at least the second elided を (wo) to mark the noun in question as the object of its following verb.

In the past, bridges were rare, and one normally crossed a river by ford or ferry. This meant that rain or wind could delay a river crossing, sometimes for days. Therefore, if you wanted to stop and rest for a while, it was recommended that you do so after crossing any relevant rivers, rather than using the stay as an excuse to put off the bother and danger of the crossing, because there was always the chance that bad weather would roll in and disrupt your plans if you waited.

Example sentence:

「祭りの晩にご馳走をすると分かっていたから、今回は数週間前から材料を揃え始めたんだ。前は失敗して、川越して宿をとれっていうのをよく勉強したからね」

(“Matsuri no ban ni gochisou wo suru to wakatteita kara, konkai wa suushuukanmae kara zairyou wo soroehajimeta nda. Mae wa shippai shite, kawa koshite yado wo tore tte iu no wo yoku benkyou shita kara ne.”)

[“I knew we’d be having a festive meal on the night of the festival, so this time I started laying in supplies several weeks in advance. Previously I’d messed up, and it drove home the lesson that you should cross the river before you rest.”]

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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