Tag Archives: Chinese Antiquity

Mooning over those who are absent

風月玄度fuu.getsu.gen.taku Literally: wind – moon – (mysterious) – (degree) Alternately: Thinking of someone you haven’t seen in a long time; missing a good friend due to long separation. By extension, thinking about or even mourning the death of someone exceptional. … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A shot, but not in the dark

Completely ignoring the phantom dog (Today I got my second covid vaccine! “Injection” in Japanese is 注射, chuusha, so please enjoy this four-character compound containing 射.) 射石飲羽sha.seki.in.u Literally: shoot – stone – drink – feather Alternately: If you throw yourself … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seven is just the beginning!

子子孫孫shi.shi.son.son Literally: child – child – grandchild – grandchild Alternately: One’s children and grandchildren; one’s descendants; posterity; until the end of history. Notes: Each repeated character may be written with the repetition mark 々; the second 孫 (in either form) … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A lance where your chin should be

枕戈待旦 chin.ka.tai.tan Literally: pillow – “spear”* – wait – sunrise Alternately: Always ready to give battle. Never dropping your guard or slacking off from necessary preparations. “Sleeping with a weapon as your pillow, awaiting the break of dawn.” Notes: This … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Touch and touch and touch and touch and touch and touch and touch and touch and touch and go

九死一生 kyuu.shi.i-.sshou Literally: nine – die – one – live Alternately: To somehow survive a very seriously dangerous situation. To be alive after escaping a 90% chance of dying. Notes: This comes to us from the Chu Ci, aka the … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soldiers are for war, not for peaceful protests

(Another saying that features 焉. Next week we’ll have something different, I promise.) 鶏を割くに焉んぞ牛刀を用いん (Niwatori wo saku ni izukunzo gyuutou wo mochiin; “Why use a cow-cleaver to cut up a chicken?”) Definition: There’s no need to use powerful tools, or … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ambition is for the birds

燕雀安くんぞ鴻鵠の志を知らんや (Enjaku izukunzo koukoku no kokorozashi wo shiran ya; “How could the swallow or sparrow understand the goose or swan?”) Definition: People of lowly character or small ability don’t, and can’t, understand the thought processes and ambitions of those with … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Kotowaza | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Selfless love

Like, literally selfless and universal 兼愛無私 ken.ai.mu.shi Literally: already / and – love – no – self / I Alternately: Equal affection for all people, without drawing lines between oneself and the Other. Universal love without bias or petty tribalism. … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does this ring any bells?

Not for those who refuse to hear! 耳を掩い*て鐘を盗む (Mimi wo ooite kane wo nusumu; “To cover one’s ears and steal a bell”) *See Notes for an important comment on pronunciation! Definition: When you think you’ve hidden something – usually something … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exceeding fines

信賞必罰 shin.shou.hitsu.batsu Literally: fidelity – prize/reward – inevitable – punishment Alternately: Sure reward and certain punishment. Strict, unfailing, and proper apportionment of just deserts, both boons and banes. Notes: This phrase comes to us from the Han Feizi (the『韓非子』= Japanese … Continue reading

Posted in Japanese, Yojijukugo | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment