Search Results for: Classic of Poetry

Not quite cuckoo

But closer every day 鳩居鵲巣kyuu.kyo.jaku.sou Literally: dove – sit/be [in a place] – magpie – nest Alternately: Taking someone else’s achievements or social position for yourself. Undeservedly stealing someone else’s laurels or spotlight. Notes: This comes from our friend, the … Continue reading

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When the bones are bad

…the rest is needed 骨折り損の草臥れ儲け (Honeori zon no kutabire mouke; “Bone-breaking loss and a profit of weariness”) Definition: Working hard without any reward. Bone-breaking labor with no fruits but exhaustion. A wasted effort or thankless task. Breakdown: It turns out … Continue reading

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Long before Tezuka or Dazai

他山の石以て玉を攻むべし (Tazan no ishi motte tama wo osamu beshi; “One must polish one’s jewels with stones from other mountains.”) Definition: A command to take someone else’s mistakes as an opportunity to reflect on and improve your own ways. “One must … Continue reading

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Yoko ni nattara?

蟷螂の斧 (Tourou no ono; “The mantis’ axe”) Definition: The weak standing up to the strong, often with the implication that they didn’t really think through how great the difference in strength would be. A praying mantis that senses threat will … Continue reading

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Spread your tiny wings

And fire the FBI director if the investigation scares you? 小心翼翼 shou.shin.yoku.yoku Literally: small – heart – wing – wing Alternately: Timid; nervous; fearful. Notes: As always the doubled character can be replaced by the doubling mark 々. 小心 refers … Continue reading

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All’s well that’s ended well

有終の美を飾る (Yuushuu no bi wo kazaru; “To add a crowning touch”) Definition: Carrying something through to a successful conclusion. Producing excellent results by seeing a task through with full effort until it’s complete, rather than doing enough work to finish … Continue reading

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Or eggshells. Frozen eggshells?

薄氷を履むが如し (Hakuhyou wo fumu ga gotoshi; “Like treading on thin ice”) Definition: Being in an intensely dangerous situation. When a thick layer of ice covers a body of water, it can safely support people walking on it or even heavy … Continue reading

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Billennium?

起きて半畳寝て一畳 (Okite hanjou nete ichijou; “Half a tatami awake, one tatami asleep”) Definition: People should be satisfied when they have enough to live on, instead of hungering for unnecessary wealth and rank. There’s no point in chasing unreasonable levels of … Continue reading

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A saying from Ni no Kuni?

Speechlessness of the White Witch 二の句が継げない (Ni no ku ga tsugenai; “A second word can’t follow”) Definition: Being dumbfounded. In a state of such complete shock or surprise that you can’t get words out even if you feel like you … Continue reading

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Once a sparrow, always a sparrow!

Here’s the experiential equivalent to last week’s 三つ子の魂百まで. 雀百まで踊り忘れず (suzume hyaku made odori wasurezu; “The sparrow, until 100, doesn’t forget [its] dance”) Definition: What you learn in your youth stays with you your whole life. Just as the sparrow maintains … Continue reading

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