Waiting to En-gage

(En to tsukihi wa sue wo mate;
“In relationships and in life, wait for the time to come”)


All things come in their own time; the best strategy is not to rush around in a fluster, but to calmly and patiently wait for a good opportunity to come so that you can use it effectively when it does. May especially be applied to looking for a good partner in love, or major opportunities to improve your situation in life in general.


We begin with the nouns 縁 (en) and 月日 (tsukihi), grouped together by the conjunction と (to, sounds like “toe”), which functions here as “and.” The noun themselves are a bit broad and amorphous, but here 縁 refers to “fate” or to the relationship between two people, and 月日 to “months and days,” i.e. time, especially one’s time spent living in the world. This group is marked as the topic of discussion by the particle は (wa). The comment on this topic begins with the noun 末 (sue), “end,” “conclusion,” marked by the particle を (wo) as the object of the verb 待つ (matsu), “to wait,” in imperative form.


A variant phrase replaces は with the associative particle の (no), which connects the “end” more explicitly to the thing being waited on but ultimately doesn’t impact the meaning. Other variants replace 月日 with 浮き世 (ukiyo), a term for this transient material world we live in, or with 時節 (jisetsu), “season,” “the times,” or by extension “opportunity.” The contracted form 縁と月日 is one of two possible options for the ゑ ((e)) entry of the Kyoto iroha karuta set.

This saying’s origin is attributed to a ballad called 雲井のろうさい (Kumoi no rousai), or perhaps 雲井弄斎 (Kumoi rousai). It joins a wide and often poetic array of sayings praising the virtues of patience.

Example sentence:


(“Ima no jibun ga koukousei no toki no jibun ni messeeji wo okureru nara, nani wo kaku ka datte? Uun, sou da naa. ironna hito to deeto wo suru koto wa betsu ni warui koto ja nai kedo, aseranai you ni ne, ka na? En to tsukihi wa sue wo mate, to.”)

[“If I could send a message to myself in high school, what would I write? Hmm, let’s see. There’s no harm in dating people, but don’t rush anything, maybe? ‘Your chance will come in its own time.’”]

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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