Category Archives: Yojijukugo

Not quite cuckoo

But closer every day 鳩居鵲巣kyuu.kyo.jaku.sou Literally: dove – sit/be [in a place] – magpie – nest Alternately: Taking someone else’s achievements or social position for yourself. Undeservedly stealing someone else’s laurels or spotlight. Notes: This comes from our friend, the … Continue reading

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Doing the wave

人海戦術 jin.kai.sen.jutsu Literally: person – ocean – war – technique Alternately: Human-wave tactics. Assaulting enemy lines with an unsupported mass infantry charge in the hopes of overwhelming them with sheer numbers. By extension, any strategy of throwing large numbers of … Continue reading

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And the Wild Things gnashed their terrible teeth

And clenched their terrible arms? 切歯扼腕 se-.sshi.yaku.wan Literally: cut – tooth – dominate / obstruct – arm Alternately: Convulsive rage (or frustration, or other negative emotion). Grinding the teeth and clenching the arms against one’s body. Being so worked up … Continue reading

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It didn’t work for stoicism

一子相伝 i-.sshi.sou.den Literally: one – child – mutual – transmit Alternately: A traditional system where the inner, secret, or ultimate teachings of an art, craft, school of thought, etc. are passed on to exactly one heir (usually from a father … Continue reading

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Look at me, look at me, LOOK AT ME NOW!

(And pay no attention to the man behind the curtain) 自己顕示 ji.ko.ken.ji Literally: self – self – appear – indicate Alternately: Making oneself apparent. Speaking up, standing out, catching attention; making oneself conspicuous or unignorable; working to advance one’s own … Continue reading

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When you write the right rite

温柔敦厚 on.juu.ton.kou Literally: warm – soft – kind – thick / kind Alternately: Kind and gentle, considerate and loving. Notes: This is a compound of compounds. 温柔 expresses a warm, mild disposition; 敦厚 is humanity and kindness. Similar terms include … Continue reading

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Fly, cow, fly; cow, fly, cow

蚊虻走牛 bun.bou.sou.gyuu Literally: mosquito – horsefly – run – cow Alternately: Something powerful being defeated by something weak; the great overthrown by the small. Literally, a cow being driven to run away by the onslaught of tiny biting flies. Alternatively, … Continue reading

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I know why the caged monkey sings

籠鳥檻猿 rou.chou.kan.en Literally: cage – bird – (jail) cell/pen – monkey Alternately: Unfree; specifically, having had one’s freedom taken away. Living like a bird – or monkey – in a cage, unable to do what you want. Notes: This phrase … Continue reading

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Wild horses could, in fact, drag it out of me

意馬心猿 i.ba.shin.en Literally: mind – horse – heart – monkey Alternately: This Buddhist phrase expresses how it is difficult to control oneself and detach from the illusory material world because worldly desires, false beliefs, and mental pollution such as hatred … Continue reading

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Spear-spine spirit

首尾一貫 shu.bi.i-.kkan Literally: neck / head – tail – one – pierce Alternately: Seeing something through from beginning to end without any change in attitude. Consistency in principles, execution of a project, etc. Although the idea might seem negative to … Continue reading

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