Category Archives: Japanese

Out of the wrong, something sweet

嘘から出た実(Uso kara deta makoto;“Truth that came from a lie”) Definition: Something that was said as a lie or joke turns out to be true after all. Note that this applies to coincidences and accidental truths, not “fake it ‘til you … Continue reading

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Thoughtful social distancing

遠慮会釈en.ryo.e.shaku Literally: far – thought – meet – explain Alternately: Holding back and thinking of others; reserve and consideration. Notes: This is a compound of compounds; 遠慮 is “discretion,” “restraint,” and 会釈 is “thoughtfulness (for the sake of others.” These … Continue reading

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Not a typo.

NOT a typo. 馬の耳に風(Muma no mimi ni kaze;“Wind in a horse’s ear”) Definition: Ignoring something somebody has said, especially people’s opinions or criticism that you don’t want to bother with. “In one ear and out the other.” Breakdown: We begin … Continue reading

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For the very rich and the very poor?

(Either you have a big enough house for it, or you don’t have the money for multiple residences, regardless.) 累世同居rui.sei.dou.kyo Literally: accumulate – generation – same – reside Alternately: Multiple generations of a family living in the same house. In … Continue reading

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Serendipitous learning… about farts!

This afternoon I unexpectedly learned something new about Japanese language and culture. In my family we’ve been making a point of watching anime together as a family, for entertainment and for Japanese practice. This isn’t just passive consumption of media, … Continue reading

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There is no rose without its thorns

…and no thorn without its roses? 楽あれば苦あり、苦あれば楽あり(Raku areba ku ari, ku areba raku ari;“When there is ease there is hardship; when there is hardship, there is ease”) Definition: Where there is pleasure, there will also come suffering or toil; where … Continue reading

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A root of the problem

盗人根性nusu.bito.kon.jou Literally: steal – person – root – nature (as in the innate essence of a thing, not “Mother Nature”) Alternately: A thief’s personality. Someone’s character being cruel, devious, greedy, and generally underhanded. Notes: 盗人 may also be read as … Continue reading

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And still the generations of the birds sing through our sighing

(Elizabeth Barret Browning, “Patience Taught by Nature”) 鳴くまで待とう時鳥(Naku made matou hototogisu;“We shall wait until it sings – The lovely cuckoo”) Definition: An expression of patience, of waiting for something good to happen or a good opportunity to arise. If the … Continue reading

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Fences within fences

I heard you like chumrot so I put a chumra in your chumra. 念には念を入れよ(Nen ni wa nen wo ireyo;“Put thought into thought”) Definition: An exhortation to be extra meticulous or cautious in a given task or situation. Make absolutely certain … Continue reading

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Teeing up some self-improvement

爪の垢を煎じて飲む(Tsume no aka wo senjite nomu;“to boil and drink fingernail-dirt”) Definition: To follow a good example that someone has set. To learn from someone who excels, by doing whatever it takes to get any positive effect at all. Often referenced … Continue reading

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