Category Archives: Japanese

The actual cruelest month

…would be September, then, I guess. 秋霜烈日 shuu.sou.retsu.jitsu Literally: autumn – frost – intense – sun Alternately: Stringent severity – of intent, or of some expression of authority such as discipline, punishment, etc. Strictness as harsh as a lethal late-fall … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blue sea, Red Cliffs, pale blue dot

滄海の一粟 (Soukai no ichizoku; “A single grain of millet in the deep blue sea”) Definition: Something incredibly small in the middle of something something incredibly big. A needle in a haycontinent. Metaphorically, the trifling, ephemeral existence of humans within the … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping the mood, and the pocket, light

軽薄短小 kei.haku.tan.shou Literally: light – dilute – short – small Alternately: Of a thing: small and light. By metaphorical extension, a person whose character is shallow; a hollow person with no substance to them. Notes: The physical meaning has apparently … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Like borrowing a cup

(Not a cup of sugar, mind you. Just a cup.) 人の褌で相撲を取る (Hito no fundoshi de sumou wo toru; “Doing sumo in someone else’s loincloth”) Definition: Using something that belongs to someone else for your own benefit or profit. Taking advantage … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gettin’ biblical before the match

緊褌一番 kin.kon.ichi.ban Literally: tense – loincloth – one – [ordinal counter] Alternately: To brace yourself mentally for something. To prepare to face difficulty or hardship, or at least a high-level competition of some sort. Literally, to gird one’s loins. Notes: … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The fish not taken

By Robert Frost? 釣り落とした魚は大きい (Tsuriotoshia sakana wa ookii; “The fish that got away is big”) Definition: The things that you lost your chance at, or failed to get, seem all the more appealing because of the pain of missing out. … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the up and up and away

立身出世 ri-.sshin.shu-.sse Literally: stand up – person – go out – society Alternately: Success in society; specifically, establishing oneself in a high (and well-paid) position. Achieving fame and fortune. Notes: This is a repetition-type compound; both risshin and shusse refer … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment