Work-life balance?

Once upon a time, there lived a lovely old couple whose start-of-stoy childlessness kind of flew in the face of this week’s saying.

(Richigimono no kodakusan;
“The many children of the righteous”)


An honest, sincere, hard-working person will get along well with their spouse, and thus will be blessed with many children. There seems to be an association with the idea that the person in question is specifically a poor man, who is being rewarded by the universe with a wealth of offspring.


We begin with the compound noun 律義者 (richigimono), comprising the characters 律, “rhythm,” “regulation,” “law,” 義, “justice,” “loyalty,” and 者, “person.” The compound as a whole means an honest or conscientious person; someone who works hard to do what is right. The associative particle の (no) connects this to another compound noun, 子沢山 (kodakusan), “many children.”


For gi it is perfectly acceptable to use 儀 (“ceremony,” “rule”) rather than 義; I can’t even call this a replacement because my sources are split on which they present as the main way to write the word, and which as the alternative.

The word 沢山 is ateji – that is, the common meaning and use of the characters has no bearing on the content of the word in question, but instead they are used in a somewhat arbitrary (often purely phonetic) function. In this case, the literal meaning of the word would be “swamp mountain.”

This is the ri entry of the Edo (Tokyo) iroha karuta set.

Example sentence:


(Richigimono no kodakusan to iu keredo, hontou dattara senshinkoku wa shoushika ga dondon susundeiru kara, hiniku na mono da.”)

[“They say that the conscientious man is blessed with many children. But if that were true, then the continually declining birth rate in ‘advanced’ nations would be ironic.”]

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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