Category Archives: Kotowaza

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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The sleeve’s edge; another life

袖すり合うも他生の縁(Sode suriau mo tashou no en;“Even a brushing of the sleeves is a connection from a past life.”) Definition: Every relationship you have in your entire life – including not just the big important ones, but the people you merely … Continue reading

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Better to be thought a fool

…than to be shot down. 怜悧なる頭には閉じたる口あり(Reiri naru atama ni wa tojitaru kuchi ari;“In the clever head, a closed mouth.”) Definition: A wise person doesn’t speak any more than necessary, and thus doesn’t say foolish, boring, or pointless things. “Silence at … Continue reading

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Wonder is the seed of knowledge

(France is bacon) 大疑は大悟の基(Taigi wa taigo no motoi;“Great doubts are the foundation of great enlightenment”) Definition: Great doubt is the first step toward great realizations. Doubt leads to asking questions, which leads to seeking answers, which – in theory at … Continue reading

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Maybe that’s why we always wear our hats

夜目遠目笠の内(Yome toome kasa no uchi;“Seen at night; seen from afar; wearing a hat”) Definition: This phrase asserts that women are most beautiful when seen in the dark, or from a distance, or when mostly obscured by something like a large … Continue reading

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Truffles before swine

Or just about anything at all before a goat 鰹節を猫に預ける(Katsuobushi wo neko ni azukeru;“Entrusting katsuo shavings to a cat”) Definition: A dangerous situation where one can’t afford to let one’s guard down. Risking a loss by presenting someone with an … Continue reading

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Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

and sleds are still a-flying 若い時は二度無い(Wakai toki wa nido nai;“There is no second youth”) Definition: You only have your youth once, so it’s best to get out there and do stuff wholeheartedly while you still have the time and energy. … Continue reading

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The only thing worse than kanabou

Like so. 鬼の女房に鬼神(Oni no nyoubou ni kijin;“For an oni’s wife, a female oni”) Definition: The woman who becomes an awful man’s wife will tend to be awful as well. A married couple will tend to resemble each other – even … Continue reading

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All in one basket, no less

累卵の危うき(Ruiran no ayauki;“The peril of a pile of eggs”) Definition: An especially unstable and dangerous situation. Potential downfall and ruin. Breakdown: We begin with the compound noun 累卵 (ruiran), literally a “pile of eggs.” This is joined by the associative … Continue reading

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The danger of lawn sprinklers

When getting your toes wet is off the deep end 濡れぬ先こそ露をも厭え(Nurenu saki koso tsuyu wo mo itoe;“Shun the dew before you get wet”) Definition: It’s best to avoid even a minor error, because surviving the experience leads to relative comfort … Continue reading

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