Category Archives: Japanese

Don’t just tread on it

Make sure your neighborhood is friendly to mongooses 蛇の生殺しは人を噛む (Hebi no namagoroshi wa hito wo kamu; “A half-killed snake bites a person”) Definition: If you take action but don’t finish the job, you only invite harm. A snake wounded but … Continue reading

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Wolves among the flowers

落花狼藉 ra-.kka.rou.zeki Literally: fall – flower – wolf – spread Alternately: Things are scattered or disorganized. Chaos and disorder. Violence, especially violence directed towards women and children. Notes: As with last week’s yojijukugo, this is a compound of compounds, with … Continue reading

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An ounce of prevention is worth….

Buy it when prevention is cheap, not when cure is costly 治に居て乱を忘れず (Chi ni ite ran wo wasurezu; “In peace, do not forget strife”) Definition: Even in times of peace and safety, it’s still necessary to plan ahead in case … Continue reading

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Sedition

乱暴狼藉 ran.bou.rou.zeki Literally: disorder – violence – wolf – spread Alternately: To engage in violent and unlawful behavior; to ignore reason and act wildly and destructively. Rioting; committing outrages. Notes: It is an error to replace 藉 with homophone 籍, … Continue reading

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Never bring a gun to a stats fight

Seriously; that’d be a crime. 下手な鉄砲も数撃てば当たる (Heta na teppou mo kazu uteba ataru; “Even an inept gun, fired a number of times, will hit.”) Definition: Even if someone is very bad at something, with enough tries they’ll produce strong results … Continue reading

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Kaitenzushi

I certainly prefer it to the pork 行雲流水 kou.un.ryuu.sui Literally: go – cloud – flow – water Alternately: Going where the wind and tides carry you, instead of sticking with one thing or staying in one place. Constantly changing rather … Continue reading

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Hefty fluff

重箱の隅を突く (Juubako no sumi wo tsutsuku; “To poke at the corners of a juubako”) Definition: To fuss over trivial details; to nitpick; to carp endlessly about fine points that don’t actually make a difference. The image is of someone who … Continue reading

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A life spent just hanging around?

一生懸命 i-.sshou.ken.mei Literally: one – life – hang / depend – life / destiny / decree Alternately: Putting maximum effort into something. Striving as hard as you can; putting your very life on the line. Notes: The original form of … Continue reading

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Next verse, same as the first

二の舞を演じる (Ni no mai wo enjiru; “to dance the second dance”) Definition: Committing someone else’s previous errors, even with the awareness of what has happened. Seeing someone fail, and then making the same mistakes. Breakdown: This simple phrase begins three … Continue reading

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If you meet the Buddha on the road, eff him

Is the word “ineffable” a paradox? 不立文字 fu.ryuu.mon.ji Literally: non – stand – sentence – letter Alternately: The Buddhist observation that satori (“understanding,” specifically insight into the true nature of reality) is not something that can be written down or … Continue reading

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