Category Archives: Kotowaza

The evillest nom

飼い犬に手を噛まれる (Kaiinu ni te wo kamareru; “Bitten on the hand by your pet dog”) Definition: To be betrayed or harmed in some way by someone you had deeply cared for, or taken care of on a regular basis. (In other … Continue reading

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Not even jackalopes, please

怪力乱神を語らず (Kairyoku ranshin wo katarazu; “Speaking not of spirits and demons”) Definition: A wise person does not indulge in talking about irrational or unreasonable things; a great person does not dabble in conspiracy or superstition. When you make an assertion, … Continue reading

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Everyone knows they prefer accordions

牛に対して琴を弾ず (Ushi ni tai shite koto wo danzu; “Playing a koto for a cow”) Definition: No matter what you say to a fool, your words are wasted. Even the most moving stories or the most edifying sermon, or the most … Continue reading

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From a land before credit?

(Actually, tools allowing you to use money that you don’t actually possess have existed in Japan for centuries. A quick search turned up one source* saying that multiple such systems have existed since at least the Muromachi period. And now … Continue reading

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Hot air, cold air

物言えば唇寒し秋の風 (Mono ieba kuchibiru samushi aki no kaze; “When you say something, then your lips will feel the chill of an autumn wind”) Definition: Being nasty will only make you feel bad later; shooting off your mouth invites disaster. Needlessly … Continue reading

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The softest immolation

鳴かぬ蛍が身を焦がす (Nakanu hotaru ga mi wo kogasu; “The silent firefly burns itself”) Definition: Those who feel the most deeply are silent, while those who talk the most are often shallow in their thoughts and feelings. “Light cares speak, great ones … Continue reading

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When nothing sticks

箸にも棒にも掛からない (Hashi ni mo bou ni mo kakaranai; “Can’t be caught on a chopstick or a pole”) Definition: A work that’s just really badly made, or a person who is completely out of control. By extension, something or somebody about … Continue reading

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