Category Archives: Kotowaza

You can lead a horse to sutras

縁なき衆生は度し難し (En naki shujou wa do shigatashi; “It’s hard for the Buddha to save those who do not know the Buddha”) Definition: People who don’t heed advice or warnings are very hard to help. Salvation is difficult for those who … Continue reading

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Sorry, thank you, sorry

No, please, I couldn’t possibly. Sorry. No, no, no. Thank you. Sorry. 礼も過ぎれば無礼になる (Rei mo sugireba burei ni naru;“Even politeness, when overdone, becomes insolence”) Definition: An overabundance of manners and deference becomes rude. Even for something as valuable, and as … Continue reading

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Failure to plan is planning to…

…murder thousands of your own citizens, if one of the things you’re supposed to plan for is an emergency situation! 遠慮なければ近憂あり (Enryo nakereba kin’yuu ari; “Without forethought, worry is forthcoming”) Definition: If you don’t act and plan with an eye … Continue reading

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Be prepared!

And be clean in word and deed. 備えあれば憂いなし (Sonae areba urei nashi; “If yes prep, no worries”) Definition: If you habitually take the time and effort to make sure you’re prepared for a worst-case scenario, then you’ll be a lot … Continue reading

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Barrelsplaining!

空き樽は音が高い (Akidaru wa oto ga takai; “An empty barrel makes a loud noise”) Definition: If you strike an empty barrel, the sound it produces is high-pitched, sharp, and loud instead of the muted thump you’d get from a full one. Similarly, … Continue reading

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As recently as this morning

(This.) 坊主憎けりゃ袈裟まで憎い (Bouzu nikukerya kesa made nikui; “If you hate a priest, even the priestly robe is loathsome”) Definition: If you hate somebody or something, then all too often you also start to dislike neutral things that you associate with … Continue reading

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Nothing but boss fights

(Pun) 人の振り見て我が振り直せ (Hito no furi mite waga furi naose; “Observe the behavior of others; correct your own”) Definition: An admonition to grow and improve by observing those around you. When you see good behavior, you should copy it; when you … Continue reading

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The best defense is a good stylin’

眉に唾を付ける (Mayu ni tsuba wo tsukeru; “to rub spit on your eyebrows”) Definition: To be on one’s guard against lies and trickery. A catchphrase meaning that somebody is likely to try to fool or deceive you in some way. Breakdown: … Continue reading

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A journey of 10,000 coughs starts with a single sniffle

風邪は万病のもと (Kaze wa manbyou no moto; “A fever is the root of ten thousand diseases”) Definition: Even if a disease seems to be mild (“just a cold”), don’t just brush it off. Things can get bad if complications arise, so … Continue reading

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The damage a jade can do

Worse yet when its herd pretends that it’s a noble stallion even though it could hardly be meaner or more broken-down 一匹の馬が狂えば千匹の馬も狂う (Ippiki no uma ga kurueba senbiki no uma mo kuruu; “When one horse goes mad, a thousand horses … Continue reading

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