Category Archives: Japanese

Weighed in the balance and found offering

論功行賞ron.kou.kou.shou Literally: discourse – achievement – conduct – reward Alternately: Awarding honors, prizes, or praise based on someone’s work and achievements. The meritocratic ideal. Notes: This phrase comes to us from the “Book of Wei” in the Records of the … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All in one basket, no less

累卵の危うき(Ruiran no ayauki;“The peril of a pile of eggs”) Definition: An especially unstable and dangerous situation. Potential downfall and ruin. Breakdown: We begin with the compound noun 累卵 (ruiran), literally a “pile of eggs.” This is joined by the associative … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The best lover is one who breaks your spine

A book lover breaking your book’s spine, I mean. 葦編三絶i.hen.san.zetsu Literally: reed – braid – three – sever Alternately: Reading the same book over and over again. Close, careful, and frequent reading of a text. Notes: Think of a text … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The danger of lawn sprinklers

When getting your toes wet is off the deep end 濡れぬ先こそ露をも厭え(Nurenu saki koso tsuyu wo mo itoe;“Shun the dew before you get wet”) Definition: It’s best to avoid even a minor error, because surviving the experience leads to relative comfort … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Orthogrothy

Giving heterodox doctrines a bit of what-for 破邪顕正ha.ja.ken.shou Literally: destroy – wicked / injustice – express / reveal – correct / justice Alternately: The Buddhist concept of breaking down that which is wrong, bad, or untrue, and making the truth … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work-life balance?

Once upon a time, there lived a lovely old couple whose start-of-stoy childlessness kind of flew in the face of this week’s saying. 律義者の子沢山(Richigimono no kodakusan;“The many children of the righteous”) Definition: An honest, sincere, hard-working person will get along … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Repairer of Reputations

名誉挽回mei.yo.ban.kai Literally: name – honor – grind – revolve Alternately: Regaining trust, reputation, or fame that has been lost. Notes: This is a compound of compounds; 名誉 is “prestige,” while 挽回 is “restoration.” As such, one can express the same … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One nugget at a time

A pollo, the god of wisdom? 知恵は小出しにせよ(Chie wa kodashi ni se yo;“Portion out your wisdom”) Definition: Reveal your abilities a little at a time, as needed, rather than all at once. Always keep something in reserve in case of emergency. … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Panta Rhei

流金鑠石ryuu.kin.shaku.seki Literally: flow – metal – melt* – stone Alternately: Incredible heat. Hot enough to soften and melt metal, or even stone. Notes: Bear in mind that there are multiple characters that can be rendered in English as “melt.” 鑠 … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Even super-firm

豆腐に鎹(Toufu ni kasugai;“A wood-clamp in tofu”) Definition: Attempting something that’s guaranteed to produce no meaningful response or results. An utterly ineffectual action, like using a construction-strength fastener on an ultra-soft material like tofu. Like talking to a brick wall, or … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment