Category Archives: Kotowaza

Kotowaza 321 Kuni yaburete sanga ari.doc

A Sangaria sangria 国破れて山河在り (Kuni yaburete sanga ari; “A country, destroyed; mountain and river, existing”) Definition: The works of humankind – castles, towns, countries – may fall or be destroyed, but the mountains and rivers remain. Kings and kingdoms pass, … Continue reading

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In my outrage, I caught dozens of flies

開いた口が塞がらない (Aita kuchi ga fusagaranai; “The open mouth does not close”) Definition: To be in a state of utter shock, especially in response to someone’s condition, attitude, words, or behavior. To be left speechless, with one’s mouth hanging open. Agape … Continue reading

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As surprising as a plink to the coo

鳩が豆鉄砲を食ったよう (Hato ga mamedeppou wo kutta you; “Like a pigeon got shot by a pea-shooter”) Definition: Dazed; amazed; puzzled; left staring in shock by something sudden or completely unexpected. A bit like a deer in headlights, except more like a … Continue reading

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Lessons from Toad Hall

柳に雪折れなし (Yanagi ni yukiore nashi; “The willow is not broken by snow”) Definition: Gentleness and flexibility may appear weak, but are actually stronger than hardness. The supple, drooping branches of a willow tree aren’t as impressive as the rigid branches … Continue reading

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‘Bring it on’ is broad, not long

Alas, “deep” doesn’t rhyme. 何でも来いに名人なし (Nandemo koi ni meijin nashi; “There are no masters of Whatever May Come”) Definition: A person who is ready for anything, is not a master at anything. You can be a generalist or an expert, … Continue reading

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How about a Marshall Field’s?

(There’s a spelling-only pun in here that I didn’t notice until the post was almost entirely written; bear in mind that the Land of Nu sides with those who stand against fascism.) 児孫のために美田を買わず (Jison no tame ni biden wo kawazu; … Continue reading

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When Awwww becomes Eugggh

可愛さ余って憎さ百倍 (Kawaisa amatte nikusa hyakubai; “Excessive fondness, hundredfold hatred”) Definition: If you had an overabundance of positive feelings toward someone and then something happens that arouses negative feelings, then the resulting hatred is proportionally overwhelming. “The greatest hate springs from … Continue reading

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Fair of skin, unfair of… other things

色の白いは七難隠す (Iro no shiroi wa shichinan kakusu; “White skin hides many flaws.”) Definition: There’s all sorts of baggage here! This kotowaza is literally saying that if a woman’s skin is sufficiently pale, then that alone makes her so beautiful that … Continue reading

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At the foot of a difficult wave

難波の葦は伊勢の浜荻 (Naniwa no ashi wa Ise no hamaogi; “What they call ashi in Naniwa is hamaogi in Ise”) Definition: Different places are different – they have different manners, different customs, and even different words for the same things, so be … Continue reading

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Arts and crafts for quarantine

門前雀羅を張る (Monzen jakura wo haru; “To spread a sparrow-net at the gate”) Definition: For a place, especially a home, to feel desolate and deserted due to lack of visitors. When the entrance to your estate (because you are an aristocrat … Continue reading

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