Category Archives: Japanese

What if it’s made of hithlain?

一筋縄では行かない(Hitosuji nawa de wa ikanai;“A single rope won’t do”) Definition: A situation that can’t be handled using the ordinary means, or everyday methods. Especially refers to an enemy or opponent who can’t be overcome with one’s usual techniques or strategies. … Continue reading

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A lance where your chin should be

枕戈待旦 chin.ka.tai.tan Literally: pillow – “spear”* – wait – sunrise Alternately: Always ready to give battle. Never dropping your guard or slacking off from necessary preparations. “Sleeping with a weapon as your pillow, awaiting the break of dawn.” Notes: This … Continue reading

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By plop or by poit

天から降ったか地から湧いたか(Ten kara futta ka chi kara waita ka;“Fallen from the sky, or sprung from the earth”) Definition: A completely out-of-the-blue occurrence, or something or someone appearing suddenly as if out of nowhere. The image is of something being unexpectedly present … Continue reading

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Make sure you get your ball back afterwards

一球入魂 i-.kkyuu.nyuu.kon Literally: one – sphere – enter / insert – soul Alternately: This phrase from the world of baseball refers to putting your full energy and focus into each action; specifically, putting everything you can into each throw of … Continue reading

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May it be a light to you in dark places

…when all other lights go out – JRRT, FotR 長者の万灯より貧者の一灯(Chouja no mantou yori hinja no ittou;“A pauper’s single light is greater than a rich man’s ten thousand.”) Definition: There is greater honor in a poor person sincerely giving what they … Continue reading

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Why that two-faced rat

Well, he looks that way sometimes 首鼠両端 shu.so.ryou.tan Literally: neck – mouse / rat – both – edge Alternately: Caught in indecision, often between two choices. Vacillating; sitting on the fence. By extension, the phrase can also refer to someone … Continue reading

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Double rhyme; wastin’ time

(Imagine my horror when I realized that after a year of pushing through Pandemic Doldrums, I finally managed to completely blank out and miss last week’s yojijukugo. In “honor” of that unwonted error, I’ve chosen a compound containing the character … Continue reading

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We’ll cross that non-bridge the instant we come to it

You can’t a ford to wait! 川越して宿とれ (Kawa koshite yado tore; “Cross a river; take lodgings”) Definition: A warning to think ahead and make arrangements just in case. Alternately, an admonition to take care of difficult or annoying tasks quickly … Continue reading

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But what age group are riders of the storm?

No age, silly; they’re ghosts! 子供は風の子 (Kodomo wa kaze no ko; “Children are children of the wind”) Definition: Children sometimes seem impervious to the cold, and will happily run around and play outdoors in weather and temperatures that tend to … Continue reading

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For I am the ruler of all that I spoon

杓子定規 shaku.shi.jou.gi Literally: scoop – child – determine – measure Alternately: Assessing everything based on the same criteria, regardless of whether this is appropriate or not. Inflexible; clinging to a single set of rules no matter what. Like trying to … Continue reading

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