Category Archives: Japanese

Pets, utensils, and maybe even people!

猫も杓子も (Neko mo shakushi mo; “Even cats and serving-spoons”) Definition: Everyone and everything. “All that and the kitchen sink.” “Everyone and their brother.” Everything at hand, thrown together in a jumble without distinction. I get the impression that this phrase … Continue reading

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Cheers to that

拍手喝采 haku.shu.ka-.ssai Literally: “musical beat” – hand – shout – gather Alternately: Applause and cheering. Vigorous praise and approval. Notes: 喝, in and of itself, is interesting. One dictionary I use translates it as “scold,” but a little deeper investigation … Continue reading

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To an idiot with a hammer, EVERYTHING looks like a nail

小人閑居して不善をなす (Shoujin kankyo shite fuzen wo nasu; “The mean, when idle, accomplish ill”) Definition: Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Mean-spirited or narrow-minded people will do harm when given free time and left to their own devices. Breakdown: We begin … Continue reading

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The quick and the subtle

当意即妙 tou.i.soku.myou Literally: appropriate – mind / idea – instant – strange / delicate Alternately: Clever; quick-thinking. Able to handle a situation (appropriately!) as soon as it arises. Notes: This configuration is based on the Buddhist phrase 当位即妙. In this … Continue reading

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Like a dash of cold water

年寄りの冷や水 (Toshiyori no hiyamizu; “Cold water for the elderly”) Definition: This phrase describes a situation in which an elderly person is doing something more aggressive or showy, or even dangerous, than is appropriate for their physical condition. The image is … Continue reading

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As clean and pure as burnished bronze

Yes, bronze is an alloy. You know what I mean. 清廉潔白 sei.ren.ke-.ppaku Literally: pure – pure – clean – white Alternately: Someone’s heart and mind – and their actions in the material world! – are unselfish and fair, moral and … Continue reading

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What part of the law is this possession?

正直の頭に神宿る (Shoujiki no koube ni kami yadoru; “A god dwells in the head of the honest”) Definition: Honesty is the best policy. A benevolent spirit will protect, inspire, even possess those who are honest in their dealings. Note that here … Continue reading

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The preeminent hobby of the times

Only in small part due to the weather, sadly. 蟄居屏息 chi-.kkyo.hei.soku Literally: “hibernation of insects” – exist; reside – fence – breath Alternately: Staying indoors and keeping quiet. Waiting inside with bated breath. Notes: This was apparently also the name … Continue reading

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Keep in mind for next year

Seriously, try to avoid travel during a pandemic, even if it’s for love. 惚れて通えば千里も一理 (Horete kayoeba senri mo ichiri; “If you travel while in love, even a thousand ri feel like one.”) Definition: If you’re traveling to meet with someone … Continue reading

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My friend Dan

一致団結 i-.cchi.dan.ketsu Literally: one – do – group – bind / join Alternately: Many people joining and working together for a common cause. Notes: This is a compound of compounds. 一致 is “agreement,” “union,” while 団結 is “grouping together,” “teaming … Continue reading

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