Category Archives: Kotowaza

Je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte

Pascal, not Twain 下手の長談義(Heta no nagadangi;“The long discourse of the unskilled”) Definition: A rambling talk or story characteristic of people who aren’t very good at clear and organized speaking. To drone on in a poorly-paced, unengaging way, especially in a … Continue reading

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A Scandanavian problem

惚れたが因果(Horeta ga inga;“The lover’s lot is karma”) Definition: For someone who has fallen in love, suffering because of it is an unavoidable part of human existence. When one is in love, pain is an inevitable result – in part due … Continue reading

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Not applicable to Bāguázhǎng practitioners

(The “eight trigrams palm” art is 八卦掌, Japanese hakkeshou.) 握れば拳開けば掌(Nigireba kobushi hirakeba tenohira;“When clenched, a fist; when opened, a palm”) Definition: A given thing can change dramatically depending on the circumstances or even on how one thinks or feels. The … Continue reading

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Why the rich have a limited point of view

針の穴から天を覗く(Hari no ana kara ten wo nozoku;“To peer at the heavens through the eye of a needle”) Definition: Attempting to solve big, complicated problems or deal with issues requiring expertise, despite only having a small supply of knowledge. Trying to … Continue reading

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Even Perlman?

論より証拠(Ron yori shouko;“Proof over theory”) Definition: The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Things tend to be clarified more by evidence than by arguing or philosophizing about them. Concrete examples are the first step and foundation when trying … Continue reading

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Skating on thin wood

板子一枚下は地獄(Itago ichimai shita wa jigoku;“One plank below is perdition”) Definition: This sailors’ saying expresses the fact that sailing is a dangerous profession, and warns them to be careful while out on the water. Only a thin bit of wood separates … Continue reading

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If at first you don’t succeed…

…that’s perfectly normal, so wait. (My records show that this is the 365th kotowaza post in the series! In celebration, I decided to use a saying that includes the character 年, “year.”) 商い三年(Akinai sannen;“Business dealings, three years”) Definition: A business … Continue reading

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A cup of water onto the sand.

In the Dry Land. 爪で拾って箕で零す(Tsume de hirotte mi de kobosu;“Scraped up with the fingernails; spilled with a basket”) Definition: Some resource that was gathered slowly and with great effort over an extended period of time is used up in an … Continue reading

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Square Eggs that Look Round

“‘My dear old fish,’ said Mr Wonka, ‘go and boil your head!’” – he probably didn’t know about this saying. 丸い卵も切りようで四角(Marui tamago mo kiriyou de shikaku;“Even a round egg can be square, depending on how you cut it.”) Definition: A … Continue reading

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What if it’s made of hithlain?

一筋縄では行かない(Hitosuji nawa de wa ikanai;“A single rope won’t do”) Definition: A situation that can’t be handled using the ordinary means, or everyday methods. Especially refers to an enemy or opponent who can’t be overcome with one’s usual techniques or strategies. … Continue reading

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