Category Archives: Yojijukugo

Consider the lotus of the pond

It toils and spins SO HARD 難行苦行 nan.gyou.ku.gyou Literally: difficult – go / undertaking – suffering – go / undertaking Alternately: Extreme difficulties or suffering. In particular, this describes when someone is enduring privation and hardship as part of (Buddhist) … Continue reading

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Like yourself; like Mt. Tai

泰然自若 tai.zen.ji.jaku Literally: calm – “sort of thing” – self – (young) / similar Alternately: Unflappable. Calm and self-controlled. Notes: This is another compound of synonymous compounds; 泰然 means “composed; unmoved,” while 自若 means “self-possessed.” This yojijukugo has a number … Continue reading

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Pull your sheep, a good life to keep

牽羊悔亡 ken.you.kai.bou Literally: pull / lead – sheep – regret – perish Alternately: You’ll be unhappy unless you take an active part in shaping things. If you see something through properly instead of just letting it run its natural course, … Continue reading

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On catching oneself red-handed

赤手空拳 seki.shu.kuu.ken Literally: red – hand – empty – fist Alternately: Doing something on one’s own, without receiving (and often without asking for) help from anybody. Alternately, facing an enemy without any weapons but one’s fists. Notes: This is a … Continue reading

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Much travel makes the boatman hoarse

The American version: 車車車車 南船北馬 nan.sen.hoku.ba Literally: south – boat – north – horse Alternately: Going from one place to the next without stop or rest. Always on the go. Wandering restlessly, or traveling busily. Notes: This compound comes to … Continue reading

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Poetry. Poetry never changes.

What falls away is always? 不易流行 fu.eki.ryuu.kou Literally: not – simple / divination / change – flow – go Alternately: One of Bashō’s principles for writing haiku: that the essence of haiku lies in both the unchanging (不易) and in … Continue reading

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Three men CAN keep a secret

…if they’re tzaddikim and the secret is hidden helpfulness 陰徳陽報 in.toku.you.hou Literally: yin/negative/shadow/secret – virtue – yang/positive/sunlight – reward Alternately: Performing acts of benevolence and charity in secret will nonetheless benefit the doer. It’s tempting to publicize one’s good deeds … Continue reading

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