Category Archives: Kotowaza

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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By plop or by poit

天から降ったか地から湧いたか(Ten kara futta ka chi kara waita ka;“Fallen from the sky, or sprung from the earth”) Definition: A completely out-of-the-blue occurrence, or something or someone appearing suddenly as if out of nowhere. The image is of something being unexpectedly present … Continue reading

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May it be a light to you in dark places

…when all other lights go out – JRRT, FotR 長者の万灯より貧者の一灯(Chouja no mantou yori hinja no ittou;“A pauper’s single light is greater than a rich man’s ten thousand.”) Definition: There is greater honor in a poor person sincerely giving what they … Continue reading

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We’ll cross that non-bridge the instant we come to it

You can’t a ford to wait! 川越して宿とれ (Kawa koshite yado tore; “Cross a river; take lodgings”) Definition: A warning to think ahead and make arrangements just in case. Alternately, an admonition to take care of difficult or annoying tasks quickly … Continue reading

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But what age group are riders of the storm?

No age, silly; they’re ghosts! 子供は風の子 (Kodomo wa kaze no ko; “Children are children of the wind”) Definition: Children sometimes seem impervious to the cold, and will happily run around and play outdoors in weather and temperatures that tend to … Continue reading

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Pets, utensils, and maybe even people!

猫も杓子も (Neko mo shakushi mo; “Even cats and serving-spoons”) Definition: Everyone and everything. “All that and the kitchen sink.” “Everyone and their brother.” Everything at hand, thrown together in a jumble without distinction. I get the impression that this phrase … Continue reading

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To an idiot with a hammer, EVERYTHING looks like a nail

小人閑居して不善をなす (Shoujin kankyo shite fuzen wo nasu; “The mean, when idle, accomplish ill”) Definition: Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Mean-spirited or narrow-minded people will do harm when given free time and left to their own devices. Breakdown: We begin … Continue reading

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Like a dash of cold water

年寄りの冷や水 (Toshiyori no hiyamizu; “Cold water for the elderly”) Definition: This phrase describes a situation in which an elderly person is doing something more aggressive or showy, or even dangerous, than is appropriate for their physical condition. The image is … Continue reading

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What part of the law is this possession?

正直の頭に神宿る (Shoujiki no koube ni kami yadoru; “A god dwells in the head of the honest”) Definition: Honesty is the best policy. A benevolent spirit will protect, inspire, even possess those who are honest in their dealings. Note that here … Continue reading

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Keep in mind for next year

Seriously, try to avoid travel during a pandemic, even if it’s for love. 惚れて通えば千里も一理 (Horete kayoeba senri mo ichiri; “If you travel while in love, even a thousand ri feel like one.”) Definition: If you’re traveling to meet with someone … Continue reading

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