December 31, 2010

Hito Hata Ageru " to hoist one's own flag "

In feudal times, conquering warriors would raise the flag of their lord on the battle site. Raising the flag in Japan today still symbolize victory, particularly in reference to independent enterpreneurs who succeed in business after starting from scratch.

December 30, 2010

Happo Bijin " a beauty in eight directions "

Happo means eight directions. Bijin literally means a beautiful woman. Aperson who wants to look attractive in eight different directions is a person trying too hard to please everyone, thus revealing a lack of integrity.

December 29, 2010

Chiri mo Tsumoreba Yama to Naru " piled-up specks of dust become a mountain "

This expression teaches the moral that, little by little and bit by bit, one's persistent efforts will lead to achievement. Even the smallest of efforts however trivial they may seem at the time, will contribute toward one's ultimate success.

December 28, 2010

Ushiroyubi o Sasareru Yoo " like having a finger pointed at one's back "

Social control through shame is highly developed in Japan. Japanese are keenly sensitive to being the object of scorn or ostracism. This expression conveys the feeling that everyone is pointing an accusatory finger at one's back for one's shameful conduct.

December 27, 2010

Ushirogami o Hikareru Omoi " a feeling as if one's hair is being pulled back "

A deep feeling of guilt for discarding one option in life in favor of another. Japanese feel a lingering tug of loyalty toward the discarded option. The tug, however, is not at the heart strings but at the hairs at the back of the head.

December 26, 2010

Ude o Migaku "to polish one's arms"

Ude o migaku is most often used in advice to the young, warning them constantly to improve their skills. In Japan discipline and training are considered essential to success in any field.

December 25, 2010

Tsura no Kawa ga Atsui "The skin on one's face is thick."

The ideal face in Japan figuratively has a thin layer of skin so as to respond with sensitivity to others. In contrast, a thick-skinned, un-Japanese face reflects an inability to blush (to show shame), to reveal vulnerability, or to show empathy.

December 24, 2010

Shiroi Me de Miru "to look at someone with white eyes"

This expression means to treat someone with disdain bordering on contempt. This is an especially appropriate phrase when the person is outside of one's group. Why shiroi (white) eyes? One theory is that eyes without pupils would have a cold, ghostly look analogous to a scornful rebuke.

December 23, 2010

Shinzoo ga Tsuyoi "strong -hearted"

Shinzoo ga tsuyoi describes a socially bold, cheeky person. Usually considered a negative trait, the phrase also may refer to having the courage (or gall) to behave against what is normally expected, like an employee who questions his boss, or a student who challenges the teacher.

December 22, 2010

Ryooyaku Kuchi ni Nigashi "Good medicine tastes bitter in the mouth."

Teaches that one cannot expect to hear only good news in life. Sometimes, although painful, it is good medicine to taste the bitter truth. It is implicit in the statement that the speaker "cares enough" to speak with unusual candor.

December 21, 2010

Mimi ga Itai "My ears hurt."

Some say that, despite Japan's economic might, its people are pretty simple. To say "My ear hurt", when words of criticism are hurled one's way, is direct and disarming. It's a way of saying "you got me". Implicit in the phrase is the recognition of wrongdoing.

December 20, 2010

Koshi ga Hikui "low-waisted"

It's probably fair to say that Japanese are preccupied with hierarchies. Status is indicated physically by one's posture in relation to others. To bend a little, to lower one's head, or to bow a deep bow is to position oneself vis-a-vis a person of higher rank. Thus, koshi ga hikui is a complement-especially to one who, by virtue of wealth or fame, has attained high status.

December 19, 2010

Katami ga Semai "narrow shoulders"

When in the presence of others who are superior in some respect, one's feeling of inferiority may be intensified. The physical manifestation of this feeling is a shrinking into oneself. The Japanese picture this reaction as a drawing in of the shoulders.

December 18, 2010

Kao ga Hiroi " wide-faced"

To be established in business or to be respected in society, it is important to be kao ga hiroi. The kao ga hiroi person is often the community leader or the authority figure in the profession. He ro she has many contacts in the community and is expected to perform a paternal or maternal role.

December 17, 2010

Ishin Denshin " reading each other's heart"

Wordless yet total communication between two pepole, as if one heart is in direct contact with the other. Couples who have been married for 50 years may have ishin densin. Co-workers, business associates, and friends are also capable of this harmonious relationship.

December 16, 2010

Haragei "belly performance"

The origin of the word haragei is a drama performed on the belly of a person lying down, or a skit performed with a face painted on one's belly. From this comes the meaning of a theatrical strategy to communicate to others without words. Today haragei is thought of as a nonverbal, intuitive problem-solving technique requiring experience, sensitiviity, and a keen knowledge of others.

December 15, 2010

Awaseru Kao ga Nai " having no face to face someone"

This idiom captures the deep concern japanese have for maintaining face. "Face," of course, means one's positive image, one's public identity and correct behavior wihtin the community. The "having no face" part of the expression can be interpreted as "not knowing what expression to wear," or "not knowing even how to compose one's expression" when having to face someone at a time when one feels deeply ashamed.

December 14, 2010

Atama ga Sagaru " One's head is bowed."

When moved by another's extraordinary effort, one's head, voluntarily or involunatarily lowers in respect. Such is the reaction depicted by atama ga sagaru.

December 13, 2010

Ashi o Arau " to wash one's feet"

Menial, less prestigious jobs often require working outdoors and sometimes even working barefooted. So to wash one's feet figuratively means to give up a lowly job or to rise up from a morally wrong way of life(crime).

December 12, 2010

Ashimoto o Miru " to look at someone's feet"

According to Japanese etymological sources, ashimoto o miru comes from the Feudal Age when the planquin carriers would examine the legs and feet of prospective customers to judge their level of exhaustion, then raise the fare accordingly.

December 11, 2010

Agura o Kaku " to sit crosslegged "

Sitting on the edge of one's chair with both feet firmly planted on the ground shows eagerness, enthusiasm, and spirit of trying hard to succeed. In contrast, a relaxed pose of sitting on a cushion with one's legs crossed means to coast, to rest on one's laurels.

December 10, 2010

Abatamo Ekubo " Pockmarks are (seen as ) dimples."

Abata mo ekubo is another way of saying, " Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." But in this Japanese expression, the beholder is almost always a man who is beholding a woman. Her face may not have physical beauty, but her personality makes her attractive to him.

December 09, 2010

Tade kuu Mushi mo Sukizuki " Some bugs prefer bitters."

This Japanese proverb acknowledges the reality that people have different tastes. Also used to warn people not to judge others by one's own taste. Tade is smartweed, a bitter tasting plant. Yet some insects prefer it.

December 08, 2010

Saba o Yomu " to read the mackerel "

Among fish caught in nets, mackerel are so little valued that Japanese fishermen may not bother to count them. Often the rough estimates of mackerel have been highly inflated, giving rise to the use of the phrase " reading the mackerel " to indicate the practice of " guesstimating " in one's own favor.

December 07, 2010

Nakitsura ni Hachi " The bee(stings) when you're already crying."

When someone has been hit simultaneously with several bad breaks, it may be consoling to hear a friend say, " Nakitsura ni hachi." The philosophical surety of the phrase reminds Japanese that misfortune may indeed come in twos(or even threes).

December 06, 2010

Mushi no Iki " The Breath of an insect "

Since insects are small, imagine how faint their breath must be. The changes of recovery are extremely slim for a man whose breath is as faint as that of an insect.

December 05, 2010

Manaita no Ue no Koi "carp on the cutting board"

This fatalistic expression is used when one feels helpless to control one's immediate destiny. The foreboding overtone comes from the knowledge of what inevitably befalls a fish laid out on a cutting board.

December 04, 2010

Ka no Naku Yoona Koe "a voice like the cry of a mosquito"

Like a mosquito that buzzes in and out of your range, the person's voice is faint and hard to hear.

December 03, 2010

I no Naka no Kawazu[Taikai o Shirazu] "A frog in the well[doesn't know the sea]."

Used to advocate greater travel beyond the Japanese islands, it captures the Japanese sense of awareness of being like a frog in a well. Comfortable as the well may be, it is but a small part of the whole world. Japanese teachers often recite this proverb to encourage their students to progress beyond the circumstances into which they were born.

December 02, 2010

Hippari Dako "a spread-eagled octopus"

This expression originates from the way an octopus is stretched out to dry. All eight legs are spread out and stretched to their limits. Thus, when the pretty young starlet or the renowned architect is suddenly in great demand, the impression is like a hippari dako.

December 01, 2010

Hachi no Su o Tsutsuita Yoo "like poking a beehive"

The impression is that of a swarm of noisy bees buzzing around in a frenzy of confusion. Complete bedlam that one is not happy about.

November 30, 2010

Gomame no Hagishiri "little fish grinding their teeth"

If sharks were to grind their teeth, it might be a big deal. Shock waves would radiate in all directions. But a bunch of little fish furiously grinding their teeth is of no consequence. Who would know? Who would care?

November 29, 2010

Uma no Hone "the bones of a horse"

Imagine the skeleton of a horse half-buried in the sand. Who knows who the horse was? What of the horse's master? Nobody knows. That's the feeling behind the expression when applied to a newcomer in the tight-knit Japanese society. Uma no hone carries a heavy negative connotation when referring to an outsider.

November 28, 2010

Tsuru no Hitokoe

According to Japanese folklore, cranes live for a thousand years. It seems that old, white-haired village leaders live nearly as long. As the respected authority, the "wise old bird" is able to mobilize the village. Thus, a powerful voice from the acknowledged leader (regardless of age) in tsuru no kitokoe.

November 27, 2010

Tatsu Tori Ato o Nigosazu " Birds leave the water undisturbed."

This is what we should remind people who are about to go into a nature preserve. Used most frequently in reference to one's place of work. Just as birds leave the water undisturbed, we should leave our current place of work undisturbed;i.e., in the best condition for one's replacement.

November 26, 2010

Suzume no Namida " sparrow's tears"

The implication of this expression is "not enough" - one wishes it were more. If sparrows are commonly found throughout Japan and often represent ordinary people in Japanese folktales.

November 25, 2010

Onaji Ana no Mujina " badgers from the same hole"

Japanese fairy tales characterize badgers as sometimes villainous and at other times comical cheaters who play tricks on people. This is based on the fact that badgers and raccoons steal harvested produce from farmers. The phrase suggests a gang/group fo bad guys.

November 24, 2010

Neko no Te mo Karitai " willing to accept even the helping hand of a cat"

This phrase indicates an intense degree of need. Cats are useless when it comes to assisting people. If one will go so far as to accept even the help of a cat, one really is in desperate need.

November 23, 2010

Neko no Hitai " cat's forehead"

Cats are not known to have high foreheads. The expression exaggerates the inaduquacy of a space. Neko no hitai is often heard when prospective home buyers in Japan first see the size of their yard.

November 22, 2010

Neko ni Koban " a gold coin before a cat"

Koban is a small oval-shaped gold coin which cirulated in Japan prior to the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The expression is used when suggesting that not everyone can appreciate an object to the same degree. Similar to " do not cast pearls before swine," it means "don't offer anything of value and merit to those who are incapable of appreciating it."

November 21, 2010

Neko mo Shakushi mo " even cats and rice ladles "

According to oen folk etymology, the rice ladle symbolizes housewives; since cats and housewives are virtually universal to Japanese households, the expression means " everybody. " An opposite interpretation holds cats to be rare and rice ladles to be universal, so that the expression is all-inclusive of both rare and abundant items.

November 20, 2010

Karite Kita Neko no Yoo " like a borrowed cat "

If a cat has a distant and aloof personality even within its own home, imagine how remote it would act in a strange place. The expression describes a shy, timid person who is not at home in his surroundings.

November 19, 2010

Hane o Nobasu " to stretch one's wings "

Away from home or the office, without constraints of position in society or conformity of rank within the Japanese company, one is more free to be adventurous.
Hane o nobasu carries connotations of " sowing a few wild oats " as well as " letting one's hair down."

November 18, 2010

Ashimoto Kara Tori Ga Tatsu " Birds fly up from under one's feet "

What could be more startling than a pheasant or other ground-nesting bird flying up suddenly from in front of you? That's the feeling Japanese experience when a friend or an acquaintance leaves without warming. To be caught unawares.

November 17, 2010

Yakeishi ni Mizu " water on a red-hot stone "

A drop of water thrown on a red-hot stone is of no consequence. Instead of cooling the stone, the drop of water evaporates in an instant. Yakeishi ni mizu expresses a grossly inadequate remedy to a problem.

November 16, 2010

Mizu Shoobai " Water Business "

Running water is not thought of as having a fixed rate of flow. Sometimes the water comes out strong, sometimes weak. Such is the " Fluid " nature of the income levels for certain businesses. Mizu shoobai includes a variety of entertainment businesses - Tea house, entertainment spots, bars, massage parlors, and houses of prostitution.
According to another etymologicak source, these businesses were situated along riverbanks, and thus the " water business."

November 15, 2010

Mizu o Utta Yoo " As if after acattered water "

When performing the Tea Ceremony, it's customary to scatter water along the entrance path. This ritual indicates preparation. The water cleans; it moistens the soil to contain the dust. It also deadens the sound.

November 14, 2010

Mizu no Awa "bubbles on the water"

Stopping by a brook and observing water bubbles forming and disappearing, a Japanese may associate those bubbles with the transient nature of life. Used poetically to acknowledge that a great effort was in vain and now has vanished like bubbles on the water.

November 13, 2010

Mizu ni Nagasu "to set things adrift"

A river carries bad memories away. By setting adrift the pain of a romantic breakup or the betrayal by a once-trusted friend, you start things anew. Once into the river's flow, the thing-to-forget heads downstream, never to return.

November 12, 2010

Neko no Hitai " cat's forehead"

Cats are not known to have high foreheads. The expression exaggerates the inadequacy of a space. Neko no hitai is often heard when prospective home buyers in Japan first see the size of their yard.

Kumo o Tsukamu Yoo "like grasping a cloud"

Since nobody can actually grasp a cloud, the expression denoteds impossibilily. From afar, a cloud has shape and form. Close-up, its gossamer essence dissipates at the touch. So when a not-so-talented sixteen-year-old declares that she's going to become a movie star, you can respond by saying it's a kumo o tsukamu yoona dream-a mild warning that the ambition or goal is highly unlikely to be realized.

November 11, 2010

Kaze no Tayori "message carried on the wind"

A letter delivered from the God of the Wind. Used to suggest news from an unnamed or an easily forgotten source. No direct line of communication exists. This expression compares with "a little birdie told me."

November 10, 2010

Ame Futte Ji Katamaru "Rain firms the ground"

Ame futte ji katamaru is often said to the bride and groom on their wedding day. In addition to meaning that bad experience may actually be good, the expression admonishes young newlyweds that, for better or for worse, the ties that bind are strengthened through tough times.

November 09, 2010

Ame ga Furoo to Yari ga Furoo to "even if rain falls or spears fall"

This expression reflects the firm determination Japanese are expected to have toward achieving their goal. Once the objective is set, after extensive deliberation and consideration, "come hell or high water," the project will be brought to a successful conclusion.

November 08, 2010

Yoraba Taiju no Kage "[Seek shelter in] the shade of a big tree"

Shade is figurative for protection. The tree you choose should be important and highly placed within your organization or in society in general. This expression is close in nuance to "it never hurts to have friends in high places."

November 07, 2010

Uri Futatsu " two halves of a cucumber"

Nature provides ample evidence fo perfect symmetry. Split lengthwise, the two halves of a fruit or vegetable are perfectly identical. When two people are so much alike in appearance, they are uri Futatsu.

November 06, 2010

Take o Watta Yoo " as clean as a split bamboo"

When a bamboo pole is split lengthwise, the cut is true and straight-a clean split. Take o watta yoo describes a reference to a man, but sometimes in reference to a woman.

November 05, 2010

Takane no Hana "flower on a high peak"

Wistfully, a prize you can see but simply cannot reach. The beautiful flower is so far away that there is no real hope of picking it. Used to describe the object of desire which is completely out of reach.

November 04, 2010

Sanshoo wa Kotsubu de mo [Piririto] Karai " Japanese peppers are hot, though small."

Despite the small size of the Japanese pepper, it packs a powerful, spicy punch. The phrase suggests that size isn't the only determinant of strength or ability.

November 03, 2010

Sakura " cherry blosson"

This expression originates from the Edo period. A paid audience hired to applaud and cherr the show was seated in the section of the theater "sakura."

November 02, 2010

Ne mo Ha mo Nai "without roots or leaves"

Roots give support to a tree much as facts give support to claims and allegations. Leaves validate the health of a tree, proving its life and vitality. With neither support(roots) nor evidence(leaves), the (tree) allegation cannot stand.

November 01, 2010

Nemawashi "preparing the roots for transplanting"

Nemawashi now is used worldwide to characterize the consensus-building nature of Japanese business practices.
Literally, nemawashi neans cutting off excess roots and wrapping the remaining roots with a straw mat for protection when transplanting the tree. In business terms it means an informal solicitation of agreement before formal submission of approval at a meeting.

October 31, 2010

Minoru hodo Atama no Sagaru Inaho Kana " The mature rice plant lowers its head "

Maturity brings humility and respect for others.

When rice is mature and ready to harvest, the heaviness at the top of the plant pulls it down low to the ground. Japanese see this as analogous to how the wisdom of years fills a man with fumility and caused his head to bow heavily in his dep respect for life and nature.

October 30, 2010

Koroganu Ishi ni Koke Musazu " A stone that rolls gathers no moss."

For the Japanese, moss is something to be admired. Associated with beauty, moss grows rocks and in pathways of old temples in places like Kyoto. Yet the stone that continues to tumble will never have moss. So this expression is often used to admonish others to stay put, to continue on in the same job. Ironicaally, this expression is also used by somme Japanese to mean the very opposite, i.e., the meaning understood by Americans: keep moving or you'll get old.

October 29, 2010

Iwanu ga Hana " Not saying is the flower "

Since one can never really "Take back" what one says, there is a high premium on thinking things through before opening one's mouth. Much harm and nonsense can result from ill-chosen words. Thus the philosophical observation that " Not saying is the flower."

October 28, 2010

Imo(no Ko) o Arau Yoo " like washing potatoes "

Summer weekends at the beach in Japan are impossible. The beaches are so crowded that you can hardly make space for your beach mat. When hordes of people play in the waist-deep ocean waters, wave after wave jostles them into each other. This commotion resembles a wooden bucketful of potatoes sloshing around while being washed by the agitator. Usage is restricted to water-related scenes.

October 27, 2010

Hana yori Dango " Sweets are preferred to flowers."

The practical is preferred over the aesthetic.

Every spring on the day of " flower viewing," Japanese traditionally travel to the countryside or visit parks to appreciate the beauty of nature. Yet human nature being what it is, people seem to show considerably more interest in the food than in the flowers.

October 26, 2010

Hana ni Arashi " Blossoms bring storms. "

Life often brings misfortune at the time of great happiness.

This fatalistic insight is a shortened version of tsuki ni muragumo, hana ni arashi, which is literally translated, "Clouds over the moon, storm over blossims." It often seems that misfortune looms behind even the happiest moments.

October 25, 2010

Gomasuri " Sesame Grinding "

When a person makes an overtly ingratiating remark, he or she is "grinding sesame seeds". Others call attention to the gomasuri either by saying the word, by (nonverbally) making motions with the fist over the palm of the other hand(simulating the grinding of roasted sesame seeds with a pestle and mortar), or by doing both. Like the messy sesame seeds ground up in the mortar, the person seeking favor is sticking to everything(one).

August 16, 2010

August 15, 2010

Daruma doll

The eyes of Daruma are often blank when sold.The recipient of the doll fills in one eye upon setting the goal, then the other upon fulfilling it.

August 13, 2010


Kawadoko are raised decks along the river to enjoy wonderful meals and a beer or sake with pleasure of the breeze and view of the mountains in summer.

August 09, 2010

Magome in Kiso Valley

Magome means "hourse basket",because this 43rd post town on the Nakasendo was where travellers were forced to leave their nags before tackling the mountainous stretch of road ahead.

August 06, 2010

Tsukiji Central Fish Market

About 2246 tonnes of fish,worth over 1.8billion yen, are sold here daily.

August 02, 2010

Hello Kitty

Girls like Hello-Kitty very very much!

August 01, 2010

Matsuri in Japan

There are many stalls on the streets.

July 31, 2010

Summer Festival-Yukata

Children wear Yukata for Natsu(Summer) Matsuri.

July 28, 2010

Kabuki-za, Ginza under construction

In addition to the Kabuki plays, the Kabukiza provided other treats for visitors.The rebuilt Kabuki-za, scheduled to be completed in spring 2013.

April 11, 2010

Alcoholic Drink / Sake

These are not soft drinks.
Have you ever seen canned alcoholic drink exept beer?

April 10, 2010

Japanese Characters / Nihon no moji

There are three kinds of character.
Japanese are busy to memorize characters.

April 09, 2010

Small Origami Crane

Smallest Origami in the world???

April 08, 2010

Food Sample / Shokuhin Sample

Can you believe that it is not real food???
These are used for display at restaurants.

March 28, 2010

Japanese School Items " Uchibaki ( Indoor Shoes)"

Kids change their shoes at the entrance of school.

March 27, 2010

Japanese School Items " Kyokasyo "

Kyokasyo means text book in Japanese.

March 26, 2010

Japanese school Items " P.E Uniform "

This is uniform for P.E.
The hat is used for both sides " Red and White ".

March 25, 2010

Japanese School Items " School Hat "

Elementary girls put this hat on when they go to school.

March 24, 2010

Japanese school Items "Randosel"

This is school bag for elementary girls.