Category Archives: Japanese

Much less dramatic than “Takekurabe”

(Higuchi Ichiyou) 団栗の背比べ (Donguri no seikurabe; “A height-measuring contest between acorns”) Definition: A group where none of the members particularly stand out from the rest. A collection of average types. Alternately, a pointless competition between people of no special ability; … Continue reading

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I see your Aeschylan harpies

And raise you LOVELY OPERA HARPIES 迦陵頻伽 ka.ryou.bin.ga Literally: “ka” (this character is only used phonetically) – imperial tomb – repeatedly – attend Alternately: A beautiful voice, or a person (especially a woman) who possesses one. This phrase refers to … Continue reading

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Even the roosters missed the dawn?

Depends on the frogs 春眠暁を覚えず (Shunmin akatsuki wo oboezu; “Spring sleep knows no dawn”) Definition: The air of a night in spring feels good, and the nights themselves are getting shorter, so one ends up sleeping in instead of waking … Continue reading

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Not the good kind

自暴自棄 ji.bou.ji.ki Literally: self – violence – self – abandon Alternately: Coming unmoored and lashing out, to the point of actually harming one’s own self or interests, in a surfeit of disillusionment or desperation. Impulsive and self-destructive flailing without regard … Continue reading

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AND I WOULD WALK TWO HUNDRED NINETEEN POINT SIX MILES

AND I WOULD WALK TWENTY FOUR POINT FOUR MORE, JUST TO BE THE MAN WHO WALKED A HUNDRED RI TO FALL DOWN AT YOUR DOOOOOOOOOR 百里を行く者は九十里を半ばとす (Hyakuri wo iku mono wa kujuuri wo nakaba to su; “To one traveling a … Continue reading

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You want me to shave *what*?

Ohhh, it’s a metaphor. (My deepest apologies to my readers! On Sunday, in place of the regularly-scheduled kotowaza, I instead posted a song as a joke. At the time I promised that the real thing – which had already been almost … Continue reading

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It’s mondo useless!

Apparently the latter word is supposed to be “pseudo-Italian.” Eh. 問答無用 mon.dou.mu.you Literally: question – answer – nothing – use Alternately: “Further discussion is pointless.” “I’m not going to argue any more.” Notes: 問答 is a discussion; in this case, … Continue reading

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