Category Archives: Yojijukugo

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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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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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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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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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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Getting a leg up on the cooperation

二人三脚ni.nin.san.kyaku Literally: two – person – three – leg Alternately: A “three-legged race”: an event (often seen in Japanese school Sports Days) in which competitors attempt to race in teams of two, with the right leg of one member tied … Continue reading

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Iconoclasm

廃仏毀釈hai.butsu.ki.shaku Literally: discard – Buddha – break – Shakyamuni* Alternately: This historical term describes the idea that Buddhism should be rooted out of Japan. This may either be in general, or specifically as part of the changes that swept over … Continue reading

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Weighed in the balance and found offering

論功行賞ron.kou.kou.shou Literally: discourse – achievement – conduct – reward Alternately: Awarding honors, prizes, or praise based on someone’s work and achievements. The meritocratic ideal. Notes: This phrase comes to us from the “Book of Wei” in the Records of the … Continue reading

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The best lover is one who breaks your spine

A book lover breaking your book’s spine, I mean. 葦編三絶i.hen.san.zetsu Literally: reed – braid – three – sever Alternately: Reading the same book over and over again. Close, careful, and frequent reading of a text. Notes: Think of a text … Continue reading

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Orthogrothy

Giving heterodox doctrines a bit of what-for 破邪顕正ha.ja.ken.shou Literally: destroy – wicked / injustice – express / reveal – correct / justice Alternately: The Buddhist concept of breaking down that which is wrong, bad, or untrue, and making the truth … Continue reading

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