Category Archives: Japanese

The damage a jade can do

Worse yet when its herd pretends that it’s a noble stallion even though it could hardly be meaner or more broken-down 一匹の馬が狂えば千匹の馬も狂う (Ippiki no uma ga kurueba senbiki no uma mo kuruu; “When one horse goes mad, a thousand horses … Continue reading

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The cruellest cheat

Yes, lying to the people is bad, and cheats them out of good things. But lying to yourself, and cheating yourself out of what you could have been, is far more cruel and far more permanent. 自己欺瞞 ji.ko.gi.man Literally: self … Continue reading

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Talking through your hat

冬編笠に夏頭巾 (Fuyu amigasa ni natsu zukin; “Woven hats in winter; hoods in summer”) Definition: Things are the opposite of how they should be. Left is right, dogs are cats, up is down, people wear hats that don’t match the season, … Continue reading

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All times as one, and now

夷険一節 i.ken.i-.ssetsu Literally: barbarian/flatten* – steep/dangerous – one – joint/section/occasion Alternately: You should stand firm to your principles regardless of whether things are calm and easy, or dangerous and hard. Don’t sell out your values, no matter the circumstances. Notes: … Continue reading

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Coffee before coffee

It depends on how much sugar you put in 朝茶は七里帰っても飲め (Asacha wa shichiri kaette mo nome; “Drink your morning tea, even if [you have to] travel seven leagues home”) Definition: If you set out on a trip without drinking your … Continue reading

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The scarecrow’s final blade

紫電一閃 shi.den.i-.ssen Literally: purple – electricity – one – flash Alternately: The light that glints from a sword being brandished. By extension, an extremely short moment of time; a single instant. By extension, a dramatic change that happens in very … Continue reading

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Treating shallow as if it were deep

Good with rivers; bad with ideas 浅い川も深く渡れ (Asai kawa mo fukaku watare; “Even in a shallow river, cross deep”) Definition: Take care even with things that seem easy, or trivial in scope. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Even … Continue reading

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