Category Archives: Kotowaza

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fly me home, country winds

越鳥南枝に巣くい、胡馬北風に嘶く (Ecchou nanshi ni sukui, koba hokufuu ni inanaku; “The bird from Yue builds its nest in southern branches; the horse from Hu neighs at the northern wind”) Definition: An expression of homesickness or nostalgia. A southern bird living in … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

When True Seeing exfoliates

化けの皮が剥がれる (Bake no kawa ga hagareru; “The changeling skin is stripped away”) Definition: Someone’s wrongdoings, flaws, or malicious true nature come to light. A previously-hidden, negative truth is revealed. Someone (or everyone) realizes how bad a situation actually is after … Continue reading

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

The hobbit of peppers

山椒は小粒でもぴりりと辛い (Sanshou wa kotsubu de mo piriri to karai; “Japanese peppers are small but painfully spicy”) Definition: This saying metaphorically describes someone who is physically small, but still formidable due to well-honed talents and a fierce spirit, surprising strength, or … Continue reading

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

Sometimes the baby poops when you want to nap

月に叢雲花に風 (Tsuki ni murakumo hana ni kaze; “clouds to the moon; wind to the flower”) Definition: Good things are all too vulnerable to disruptions. The moon is covered by clouds; flower petals are scattered by the wind; what you thought … Continue reading

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