Category Archives: Japanese

Kackling

呵呵大笑 ka.ka.tai.shou Literally: scold – scold – big – laugh/smile Alternately: Laughing Out Loud. Hearty laughter. Notes: As usual, the second 呵 can be replaced with the doubling mark 々. 大 may also be pronounced dai, although this seems to … Continue reading

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This kotowaza brought to you by Ed Sheeran

(Thusly.) 対岸の火事 (Taigan no kaji; “Fire on the far shore”) Definition: Somebody Else’s Problem. Something that doesn’t impact you in any way; “No skin off my nose.” Like a fire seen from the opposite shore of a body of water, … Continue reading

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Pride cometh

Every castle is undefeated… for some while! 難攻不落 nan.kou.fu.raku Literally: difficult – attack – not – fall Alternately: Nigh impervious to assault. Difficult even to attack, much less to actually bring down, like a near-impregnable castle. By extension, a situation … Continue reading

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Butter, no; steel, yes

衆口金を鑠かす (Shuukou kin wo tokasu; “The mouths of the masses melt metal.”) Definition: Rumor and slander tend to get worse as they spread. The power of many people all talking about something is to be feared, because even correct information … Continue reading

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Seal up your lips, and give no words

But mum! 他言無用 ta.gon.mu.you Literally: other – say – no – use Alternately: “Don’t talk about this to anyone.” “Loose lips sink ships.” Notes: 言 may also be pronounced gen. In contrast to the aphoristic nature of most yojijukugo, this … Continue reading

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Castles in the (hot) air

口では大坂の城も建つ (Kuchi de wa Oosaka no shiro mo tatsu; “Even Osaka Castle can be built in words”) Definition: Mighty deeds are easy to talk about, but hard to actually accomplish. “Easier said than done.” Breakdown: We begin with the noun … Continue reading

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A long and winding situation

紆余曲折 u.yo.kyoku.setsu Literally: crouch – too much – bend – fold / fracture Alternately: 紆余 refers to something, especially a road, being full of twists and turns. 曲折 similarly refers to something being bent or zig-zag. Put them together and … Continue reading

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