Category Archives: Kotowaza

Truffles before swine

Or just about anything at all before a goat 鰹節を猫に預ける(Katsuobushi wo neko ni azukeru;“Entrusting katsuo shavings to a cat”) Definition: A dangerous situation where one can’t afford to let one’s guard down. Risking a loss by presenting someone with an … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

and sleds are still a-flying 若い時は二度無い(Wakai toki wa nido nai;“There is no second youth”) Definition: You only have your youth once, so it’s best to get out there and do stuff wholeheartedly while you still have the time and energy. … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The only thing worse than kanabou

Like so. 鬼の女房に鬼神(Oni no nyoubou ni kijin;“For an oni’s wife, a female oni”) Definition: The woman who becomes an awful man’s wife will tend to be awful as well. A married couple will tend to resemble each other – even … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All in one basket, no less

累卵の危うき(Ruiran no ayauki;“The peril of a pile of eggs”) Definition: An especially unstable and dangerous situation. Potential downfall and ruin. Breakdown: We begin with the compound noun 累卵 (ruiran), literally a “pile of eggs.” This is joined by the associative … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The danger of lawn sprinklers

When getting your toes wet is off the deep end 濡れぬ先こそ露をも厭え(Nurenu saki koso tsuyu wo mo itoe;“Shun the dew before you get wet”) Definition: It’s best to avoid even a minor error, because surviving the experience leads to relative comfort … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Work-life balance?

Once upon a time, there lived a lovely old couple whose start-of-stoy childlessness kind of flew in the face of this week’s saying. 律義者の子沢山(Richigimono no kodakusan;“The many children of the righteous”) Definition: An honest, sincere, hard-working person will get along … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One nugget at a time

A pollo, the god of wisdom? 知恵は小出しにせよ(Chie wa kodashi ni se yo;“Portion out your wisdom”) Definition: Reveal your abilities a little at a time, as needed, rather than all at once. Always keep something in reserve in case of emergency. … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Even super-firm

豆腐に鎹(Toufu ni kasugai;“A wood-clamp in tofu”) Definition: Attempting something that’s guaranteed to produce no meaningful response or results. An utterly ineffectual action, like using a construction-strength fastener on an ultra-soft material like tofu. Like talking to a brick wall, or … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment