Category Archives: Japanese

From the ashes a fire shall be woken?

A light from the shadows shall spring! 焼け木杭に火がつく (Yake-bokkui ni hi ga tsuku; “Fire catches on a burned stick”) Definition: A former relationship that was cut off is easy to reestablish. On meeting an old friend or lover, you often … Continue reading

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A leap of dumbth

軽挙妄動 kei.kyo.mou.dou Literally: light (as opposed to “serious”) – action – delusion – motion Alternately: Rash, unthinking action. Doing this and that on impulse, without planning or consideration. Indiscriminate wild flailing. Notes: Despite their relatively similar meanings, replacing 妄 with … Continue reading

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Soldiers are for war, not for peaceful protests

(Another saying that features 焉. Next week we’ll have something different, I promise.) 鶏を割くに焉んぞ牛刀を用いん (Niwatori wo saku ni izukunzo gyuutou wo mochiin; “Why use a cow-cleaver to cut up a chicken?”) Definition: There’s no need to use powerful tools, or … Continue reading

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Chai knees characters

(Why yes, I am using this because I was looking into 焉 for the previous kotowaza post. Funny how that works.) 烏焉魯魚 u.en.ro.gyo Literally: bird – how / why – foolish – fish Alternately: The meanings of the original characters … Continue reading

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Ambition is for the birds

燕雀安くんぞ鴻鵠の志を知らんや (Enjaku izukunzo koukoku no kokorozashi wo shiran ya; “How could the swallow or sparrow understand the goose or swan?”) Definition: People of lowly character or small ability don’t, and can’t, understand the thought processes and ambitions of those with … Continue reading

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There’s a storm coming

(Not to mention the storm that’s already here) 前途多難 zen.to.ta.nan Literally: before / front – road – many – difficult / trouble Alternately: Hard times ahead. Notes: Compare and contrast 前途有望 and 多事多難.

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When your stat spread make you crabby

蟹は甲羅に似せて穴を掘る (Kani wa koura ni nisete ana wo horu; “A crab digs its hole to match its shell”) Definition: People think and act according to their personal circumstances and abilities. Just as a small crab will dig a small burrow … Continue reading

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As above, so below

(Wet) 上漏下湿 jou.rou.ka.shuu Literally: above – leak – below – damp Alternately: A poverty-stricken household; a dilapidated house. Water leaks in from above when it rains, and damp seeps up from below; a double threat not to be taken lightly … Continue reading

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Kotowaza 321 Kuni yaburete sanga ari.doc

A Sangaria sangria 国破れて山河在り (Kuni yaburete sanga ari; “A country, destroyed; mountain and river, existing”) Definition: The works of humankind – castles, towns, countries – may fall or be destroyed, but the mountains and rivers remain. Kings and kingdoms pass, … Continue reading

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Words, words, words

千言万語 sen.gen.ban.go Literally: thousand – say – ten thousand – word Alternately: Very many words. A vast number of words. Really quite a very large number of words indeed. Speech or writing that is long-winded, meandering, overdone, prolix, repetitive, tedious, … Continue reading

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