Category Archives: Japanese

They do toil, and they do spin

Humans aren’t plants, it turns out; we just raise ‘em. 粒粒辛苦ryuu.ryuu.shin.ku Literally: grain* / drop – grain* / drop – spicy / unpleasant – bitter / suffer Alternately: Hard, steady work. To carry on with plain, painstaking, long-term labor. Elbows … Continue reading

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The sleeve’s edge; another life

袖すり合うも他生の縁(Sode suriau mo tashou no en;“Even a brushing of the sleeves is a connection from a past life.”) Definition: Every relationship you have in your entire life – including not just the big important ones, but the people you merely … Continue reading

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Leaving the ivory tower

What is the tower of practical applications made out of? Tungsten? 知行合一chi.kou.gou.itsu Literally: know – act – join – one Alternately: One’s knowledge and deeds are in accordance. One’s actions must be guided by one’s knowledge, and knowledge only has … Continue reading

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Better to be thought a fool

…than to be shot down. 怜悧なる頭には閉じたる口あり(Reiri naru atama ni wa tojitaru kuchi ari;“In the clever head, a closed mouth.”) Definition: A wise person doesn’t speak any more than necessary, and thus doesn’t say foolish, boring, or pointless things. “Silence at … Continue reading

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Not a problem if you’re Solo?

(Yes, that’s a source text / Star Wars joke.) 党同伐異tou.dou.batsu.i Literally: faction – same – strike / punish – different Alternately: Blind partisanship. Supporting one’s associates and attacking one’s rivals without any regard for what is actually correct or proper. … Continue reading

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Wonder is the seed of knowledge

(France is bacon) 大疑は大悟の基(Taigi wa taigo no motoi;“Great doubts are the foundation of great enlightenment”) Definition: Great doubt is the first step toward great realizations. Doubt leads to asking questions, which leads to seeking answers, which – in theory at … Continue reading

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Gaijin, he zen

変幻自在hen.gen.ji.zai Literally: change – illusion – self – exist Alternately: Able to change one’s form or appearance, or appear and disappear, at will. Shapeshifting; protean; phantasmal. Notes: This is a compound of compounds; 変幻 refers to an illusion or vision … Continue reading

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Maybe that’s why we always wear our hats

夜目遠目笠の内(Yome toome kasa no uchi;“Seen at night; seen from afar; wearing a hat”) Definition: This phrase asserts that women are most beautiful when seen in the dark, or from a distance, or when mostly obscured by something like a large … Continue reading

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Sing as though no one can hear you

Why can’t they hear me? I’d better sing even more loudly. 放歌高吟hou.ka.kou.gin Literally: release – song – high – recite / chant / sing Alternately: Singing in a loud voice, without worrying about whether you may be bothering anybody else. … Continue reading

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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

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