Party rockers at the gate tonight

Everybody just have a good time?

門前市を成す
(Monzen ichi wo nasu;
“A market forms before the gates”)

Definition:

For a place, especially a home, to be so frequented by visitors that the press of people and vehicles at the entrance to the estate (because you are an aristocrat with a whole estate to manage, right?) makes it look as if a marketplace has sprung up. Teeming with people and activity. Perhaps ironically, this metaphor may occasionally be used to describe an actual store that is doing brisk business for a throng of customers; or it may in particular refer to a situation where many people have gathered specifically to seek fame and fortune.

Breakdown:

This simple phrase ends, and is made into a sentence, with the verb 成す (nasu), “to become,” “to do,” “to establish,” in conclusive form. The particle を (wo) tells us that the verb takes a direct object, which is the noun 市 (ichi), “marketplace,” which is located in space (with particles elided) by the noun 門前 (monzen), “in front of the gate.”

Notes:

This may be shortened to simply 市を成す (ichi wo nasu). A variant phrase may replace the final particle and verb with ~の如し (~ no gotoshi), a nominalized adjective generally translatable as “[X is] like [Y],” “[X is] the same as [Y].” A further variant replaces 門前 with 門庭 (montei), “gate and (court)yard,” and renders gotoshi as 若し, without any change in meaning or pronunciation. This idiom is considered antonymous with 門前雀羅を張る.

Today’s phrase comes to us from our friend the Book of Han (Japanese 『漢書』 = Kanjo) (not to be confused with the Book of the Later Han).

Example sentence:

その後、彼は門前市を成すほど有名な作家になろうと思って、毎日無我夢中で書いては消し、また書いては消しを繰り返し、完璧な小説を書くように全力を尽くしていた。

(Sono ato, kare wa monzen ichi wo nasu hodo yuumei na sakka ni narou to omotte, mainichi muga muchuu de kaite wa keshi, mata kaite wa keshi wo kurikaeshi, kanpeki na shousetsu wo kaku you ni zenryoku wo tsukushiteita.)

[After that, driven by the thought that one day he would become such a famous author that people would flock to his door, he worked to his limit every day, utterly absorbed in repeated cycles of writing and erasing, writing again and erasing again, trying to craft the perfect novel.]

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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