Category Archives: Kotowaza

When the bones are bad

…the rest is needed 骨折り損の草臥れ儲け (Honeori zon no kutabire mouke; “Bone-breaking loss and a profit of weariness”) Definition: Working hard without any reward. Bone-breaking labor with no fruits but exhaustion. A wasted effort or thankless task. Breakdown: It turns out … Continue reading

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Giving trash the bird?

掃き溜めに鶴 (Hakidame ni tsuru; “A crane on a dunghill”) Definition: An especially talented or beautiful person amid mundane folk. A rare gem amid dross; a beautiful crane that has incongruously alit on a midden-heap. Breakdown: We begin with the same … Continue reading

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A midden of lucre

掃き溜めと金持ちは溜まるほど汚い (Hakidame to kanemochi wa tamaru hodo kitanai; “Dunghills and money get dirtier as they accumulate”) Definition: The more money someone has, the more money they want; an increase in wealth tends to bring increasing greed and selfishness rather than … Continue reading

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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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