Category Archives: Kotowaza

Making light of parental influence

親の光は七光 (Oya no hikari wa nanahikari; “A parent’s light is seven lights”) Definition: Children benefit from their parents’ fame, fortune, and status. This is less about hereditary succession to a position, or straight-up nepotism, than it is about the fact … Continue reading

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Bear little; bee large

小さく生んで大きく育てる (Chiisaku unde ookiku sodateru; “Birth small; raise large”) Definition: It’s wise to bear a small child and then raise it large. A small baby tends to mean an easier birth, and a child who grows well tends to be … Continue reading

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Like chopping radishes with Excalibur

大根を正宗で切る (Daikon wo Masamune de kiru; “To cut a daikon with a Masamune”) Definition: Overkill. Bringing force, talent, or material to a job or problem far in excess of what is actually needed; often, assigning a task to someone who … Continue reading

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How about when elephants fight?

疾風に勁草を知る (Shippuu ni keisou wo shiru; “In strong wind one learns of the strong grasses”) Definition: It is only after personally encountering hardships or trials that one truly understands the character and value of people who have already withstood those … Continue reading

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I met a traveller from an antique land

朝顔の花一時 (Asagao no hana hitotoki; “The morning glory flower, a single moment”) Definition: Something’s peak or prime only lasts for a short time. Decline and entropy are all too easy. Like the morning glory flower that blooms at dawn and … Continue reading

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はは は

子を持って知る親の恩 (Ko wo motte shiru oya no on; “The kindness of a parent, which you realize when you have a child”) Definition: Raising kids is hard. But as with most difficult tasks, most people don’t realize the exact amount of … Continue reading

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Maybe they should make salmon streamers

鯉の滝登り (Koi no takinobori; “A carp climbing a waterfall”) Definition: Spectacular success in life. A person being as successful in society or career – in “the world” – as a carp that manages to overcome rapids and waterfalls in its … Continue reading

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