Category Archives: Yojijukugo

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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A real eye-opener

開眼供養 kai.gen.ku.you Literally: open – eyeball – offer – nurture Alternately: This is the name of a Buddhist ceremony in which the eyes are added to a Buddhist sculpture or image, completing it and investing it with a soul. By … Continue reading

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Great at everything but dancing

八面六臂 hachi.men.ro-.ppi Literally: eight – face – six – elbow Alternately: Active in a variety of areas, usually with incredible energy and results. One person doing the work of several. As productive as if having eight heads and six arms. … Continue reading

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Zen and the art of shining a footlight

脚下照顧 kya-.kka.shou.ko Literally: leg – below – illuminate – look back Alternately: Make time to look within. More literally, “make sure to look carefully under your own feet.” 照顧 is a Zen Buddhist term for consideration, reflection, introspection. This is … Continue reading

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