Category Archives: Kotowaza

If possible, try to ween the exact right amount

Turns out it means “to suppose, to expect.” 驕る平家は久しからず (Ogoru Heike wa hisashikarazu; “The haughty Heike are not for long”) Definition: Pride comes before a fall, and outright arrogance is especially vulnerable. The more a person becomes full of themselves, … Continue reading

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Worse than the Hounds of Tindalos

煩悩の犬は追えども去らず (Bonnou no inu wa oedomo sarazu; “Even if you drive out the hounds of earthly urges, they don’t go away”) Definition: Earthly desires will remain with you even if, and no matter how many times, you suppress them. The … Continue reading

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Neither the long nor the short of it

帯に短し襷に長し (Obi ni mijikashi tasuki ni nagashi; “Short for a belt, long for a sleeve-strap”) Definition: In a midway state that precludes value that might be found at either extreme. Like a strip of cloth that is too short to … Continue reading

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Long before Tezuka or Dazai

他山の石以て玉を攻むべし (Tazan no ishi motte tama wo osamu beshi; “One must polish one’s jewels with stones from other mountains.”) Definition: A command to take someone else’s mistakes as an opportunity to reflect on and improve your own ways. “One must … Continue reading

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This kotowaza brought to you by Ed Sheeran

(Thusly.) 対岸の火事 (Taigan no kaji; “Fire on the far shore”) Definition: Somebody Else’s Problem. Something that doesn’t impact you in any way; “No skin off my nose.” Like a fire seen from the opposite shore of a body of water, … Continue reading

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Butter, no; steel, yes

衆口金を鑠かす (Shuukou kin wo tokasu; “The mouths of the masses melt metal.”) Definition: Rumor and slander tend to get worse as they spread. The power of many people all talking about something is to be feared, because even correct information … Continue reading

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Castles in the (hot) air

口では大坂の城も建つ (Kuchi de wa Oosaka no shiro mo tatsu; “Even Osaka Castle can be built in words”) Definition: Mighty deeds are easy to talk about, but hard to actually accomplish. “Easier said than done.” Breakdown: We begin with the noun … Continue reading

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