Verweilst du in der Welt, sie flieht als Traum


(Kyou no yume Osaka no yume;
“Capital dreams; Osaka dreams”)


Dreams are mysterious and one can’t expect them to make any sense. Alternately, dreams are where one’s desires are most easily manifested; or by extension, a statement that different people wish for different things, that human desires come in infinite variety. Apparently it was also repeated as a sort of good-luck charm before talking about one’s dreams.


This is a pair of simple noun phrases, each consisting of a city name joined to the noun 夢 (yume), “dream,” by the associative particle の (no). 大阪 (oosaka), literally “big slope,” is of course Osaka, while 京 refers more generally to the imperial seat – although by the time this phrase was coined, this had long ago settled permanently in the aptly named 京都 (kyouto), “capital metropolis” Kyoto.


Perhaps ironically, this is the 京 (kyou, “capital”) entry of the Edo iroha karuta set – a sort of “plus-alpha” entry appended to the Edo and Kyoto karuta sets, but which is absent in the Osaka set. the phrase’s origins are unclear, but it is attested in the proverb dictionary 『諺苑』 (Gen’en) and a dictionary of slang, dialect, and idiom called the 『俚諺集覧』 (Rigen shuuran), although the latter seems to have used the former as a reference.

Incidentally, the stereotypical “Kyoto dream” is of rising to a high government rank and social status, while the stereotypical “Osaka dream” is to become a wealthy businessman. Compare and contrast 京の着倒れ大阪の食い倒れ, which uses a similar contrast for very different ends.

Example sentence:

「家の兄弟は、京の夢大阪の夢で、保育園の先生やら映画の批判者やら、将来の夢が全員見事に違ってんだ」 「ふむ。それなのに、大人になって四人とも路面電車の運転手になったとは、実に面白い」

(“Uchi no kyoudai wa, kyou no yume Oosaka no yume de, hoikuen no sensei yara eiga no hihansha yara, shourai no yume ga zen’in migoto ni chigatten da.”  “Fumu. Sore na no ni, otona ni natte yonin to mo romen densha no untenshu ni natta to wa, jitsu ni omoshiroi.”)

[“Everyone has their own unique dreams, and whether it be preschool teacher or movie critic, my siblings and I all had remarkably different dreams for our futures.”
“Hmh. Then it’s really interesting  how, despite that, as adults you’ve all become tram conductors.”]

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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