The natural state of heroes


Literally: tire(d) – labor – distress – fatigue

Alternately: Complete and utter exhaustion. As tired as one can be.

Notes: This is another compound of redundant terms for emphasis: both 疲労 and 困憊 mean “exhaustion,” “fatigue,” “weariness.” I should probably mention that the first term is by far the more common, and I’ve never even seen the final character before in my life.

憊 is read on its own as hai; be careful when voicing it in the compound, because bai (which some people might guess) is considered an error.


A Magic card that keeps an opponent from refreshing the lands and creatures they’d used over the previous turn.

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A tip for an umbrella

(Nurenu saki no kasa; “(Opening) an umbrella before getting wet”)


Thorough advance preparation. Like opening an umbrella before any rain has even started falling. Prevention is better than cure; better early than late.


We begin with the verb 濡れる (nureru), “to get wet,” with negative suffix ず (zu) in prenominal formぬ (nu). This attaches to the noun 先 (saki), “before.” In turn, the entire noun phrase that we’ve seen so far is connected by the associative particle の (no) to the noun 傘 (kasa), “umbrella.” Rendered in a clunky literal fashion, the whole saying becomes a noun phrase along the lines of “umbrella of before-getting-wet.”


At first blush I assumed that this phrase was about opening an umbrella long before the rain, to check whether it works or even as practice to ensure that you know how to operate it. But the actual nuance is rather one of opening an umbrella as soon as one anticipates rain, rather than waiting for the drops to actually start falling. The idea is that if you wait until the last minute, then any mistakes will leave you wet, so it’s better to be walking along with an as-yet-unnecessary umbrella open above you, than to wait until the last moment and risk getting drenched.

This theme of cautious precaution is common, and there are a wealth of sayings that are considered synonymous with this, including at least a couple that we’ve seen before. Another one using the exact same pattern as 濡れぬ先の傘 is 転ばぬ先の杖 (korobanu saki no tsue), replacing “get wet” with “fall down” and “umbrella” with “cane.”

Example sentence:


(Nurenu saki no kasa wo sasou to omotte, akanbou ga mada haihai dekinai uchi ni shosai no iriguchi ni anzen geeto wo toritsukeru koto ni shita.”)

[“Thinking that I had better get ahead of the game, I decided to put up a safety gate in the study doorway before the baby could crawl.”]

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An iceberg… of detergent


Literally: submerge – exist – mind – know

Alternately: Subconscious. This modern compound comprises 潜在, “dormancy,” and 意識, “awareness,” and stands in contrast to terms such as 前意識 (zenishiki, “preconscious”) or 無意識 (muishiki, “unconscious”).

Notes: I have nothing more to add about the phrase itself, but I did want to comment on the so-called “collective unconscious” (集合無意識, shuugou muishiki). While mystical misreadings of the term hold this up as some sort of unbodied supernatural repository of eternal Platonic truths, all it really refers to is… tropes. If an idea is used multiple times in a given culture, it enters the consciousness of many people (i.e. it becomes “collective”) but most people aren’t consciously thinking about it (i.e. it’s “unconscious”).

I speg, you sperg, we all sperg for icebergs.

Icebergs were a common image search result. Note that this example (incorrectly!) posits a “collective unconscious” as the lowest layer.

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Ready to go, but never to return

(Kasa to chouchin wa modoranu tsumori de kase;
“Lend umbrellas and lanterns with the awareness that they will not return”)


People are forgetful. Human nature being what it is, there are certain things that you should expect, such as loaned umbrellas not being returned. You only take out an umbrella when there’s danger of being rained on, and you only take out a lantern when you need to go somewhere after dark, so both are easy to forget about when the sun is out. If you lend one to somebody, they’re likely to stow it away when it’s not needed, and forget about it, and not return it. When it is needed, of course, they’ll want to use it, and tell themselves that they’ll return it afterwards – but you probably won’t be there at the right moment, so they’ll stow it away until they have the chance, and the cycle continues. In short, be prepared to never see it again.


The topic marker は (wa) tells us that we’re talking about the noun 傘 (kasa), “umbrella” and the noun 提灯 (chouchin), an old-style rounded paper lantern, joining them with と (to), “and.” The comment on this topic begins with intransitive verb 戻る (modoru), “to return,” in imperfective form and with negative suffix ず (zu) in prenominal form as ぬ (nu). This allows it to connect with the noun つもり (tsumori), “intent,” “belief,” which in turn is marked by the particle で (de), in this case, “with.” The verb performed with the belief that the implements won’t return is 貸す (kasu), “to lend,” in imperative form.


While my interpretation generalizes the principle for an age in which we tend not to travel by the light of hand-held lanterns, the use of と rather than や suggests an exclusive list rather than two primary examples from an implied expansive list. Whether this is a mere coincidence, an example of usage shifting over time, or a deliberate attempt to separate forgettable things like umbrellas from things that you really shouldn’t forget (like money), is unclear.

Example sentence:

「おい、貸熊、クロックさんが着てるのってお前のセーターじゃないの?」 「うん、でも、別に大丈夫ですよ。傘と提灯と同じように戻らぬつもりで貸したの」 「…なんだよ」 「ううん、ただ、私のセーターだってよく気付きましたね、先輩」

(“Oi, Kashikuma, Kurokku-san ga kiteru notte omae no seetaa ja nai no?” “Un, demo, betsu ni daijoubu desu yo. Kasa to chouchin to onaji you ni modoranu tsumori de kashita no.” “…Nan da yo.” “Uun, tada, watashi no seetaa datte yoku kidzukimashita ne, senpai.”)

[“Hey, Kashikuma, isn’t that your sweater that Clock-san is wearing?”

“Yeah, but it’s fine. I lent it to her knowing that, like an umbrella, it would probably never come back.”


“Nooothing, just, I’m impressed that you noticed it was my sweater, senpai.”]

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Consider the lotus of the pond

It toils and spins SO HARD


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) ascetic training in search of enlightenment.

Notes: 行 in this case refers to 修行 (shugyou), “ascetic training.”

This compound comes to us from the Lotus Sutra (法華経, Hokekyou or Hokkekyou).

Ascetic Buddha statue

S K E L E T A L ・A E S T H E T I C ・A S C E T I C ・D E F ・N O T ・D I A B E T I C

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If the cattle are horny, you shouldn’t care if they’re straight

(Tsuno wo tamete ushi wo korosu; “Straightening the horns, killing the cow”)


A situation where trying to fix a small problem ruins the whole thing. The cure being worse than the disease. Hammering and pulling on a cow’s curved horns in an attempt to straighten them is only going to be bad for the beast itself.


This saying comprises conjoined verb phrases. The first begins with noun 角 (tsuno), “horn(s),” marked by particle を (wo) as the object of verb 矯める (tameru), “to straighten,” “to correct,” which appears in conjunctive form. The second phrase uses を to take as its object the noun 牛 (ushi), “cow,” and the verb being done to the cow is 殺す (korosu), “to kill,” in conclusive form.


Replacing 矯める with homophone 溜める, “to amass,” is of course an error. Replacing it with 直す (naosu, “to fix”), however, is perfectly fine.

This saying has a surprising number of synonymous phrases. My favorite are the ones declaring that trying to repair or polish a Buddha statue, or a Jizou statue, will break off its nose.

Example sentence:


(Tsuno wo tamete ushi wo koroshita you ni, sofuto ni chotto dake te wo kuwaete mitara, tochuu de pasokon ga fui ni buruu sukuriin ni natte shimatta.”)

[“As if I’d killed the cow by straightening its horns, when I tried tweaking the software just a bit, all of a sudden my computer went BSOD.”]

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Like yourself; like Mt. Tai


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 of both synonyms, including 余裕綽々, and antonyms, including 小心翼翼 (“fearful”) and 右往左往 (“disordered”).


From this “note” account. The bird is saying “Flying kick!”

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