Jul 29, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Universal remote control and the monolith in 2001


Tsuki to suppon

Meaning of Japanese:
The moon and a soft-shelled turtle

English equivalents:
As different as night and day

Like comparing apples and oranges

Jul 28, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Where's that 20/20 foresight?


Ato no matsuri

Meaning of Japanese:
Revelers after the festival has ended

English equivalents:
A day after the fair
After death the doctor
Lock the barn door after the horse got out
Cry over spilt milk

While the literal meaning of the Japanese is usually taken to refer to festival-goers or parade floats arriving after the event has passed, another interpretation is based on the religious sense of the verb matsuru (祭る) - to worship or deify. In this version, holding a ceremony to deify a deceased mortal is viewed as frivolous and vain.

Jul 26, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Just don't touch the mouldings


Hame-wo hazusu

Meaning of Japanese:
(lit.) to get carried away and remove the wall paneling*

English equivalents:
Cut loose
Let one's hair down
Lose control
Have a wild time
(... often in an excessive manner)

*羽目板 (hameita) is paneling or wainscot. How removing this came to represent reckless abandon is unclear to me, although 羽目 (hame) by itself has come to mean "a fix" or a difficult situation. Another etymological theory assumes that hame evolved from hami (馬銜), a horse's bit. A horse unrestrained by its bit provides a vivid illustration indeed of "wild time."

Jul 25, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Share your innard self


Kan-tan ai terasu

Meaning of Japanese:
To have a mutually intimate understanding*

English equivalents:
(To be) bosom buddies, inseparable friends

*This kotowaza defies easy explanation. Literally it means to have shed light on one another's liver (肝臓) and gall bladder (胆嚢). At first I thought the English meaning derived from the fact that the gall bladder is nestled in all comfy with the liver. But it seems that the liver and gall bladder, as a pair, are symbolic in Japanese and Chinese - from which this saying originated - for "the bottom of one's heart." Hence, when close friends share their most intimate thoughts, they have illuminated one anothers' liver and gall bladder (肝胆).

Jul 20, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: The Shadow knows


Uwasa-wo sureba kage-ga sasu

Meaning of Japanese:
Gossip about a person, and he* is bound to appear

English equivalents:
Speak of the devil (and he is sure to appear)

*Literally, the shadow of that person will appear, as if around a corner. But the idea is the same.

Jul 19, 2005

Addendum to Note to myself

A refresher course in "cooking for one" may be in order. I just made a delicious wokful of fried rice that will have worn out its welcome three days from now.

Jul 18, 2005

Note to myself

Never again make a full batch of gazpacho when you know noone will be around to share. As fond as you are of the stuff, by the third consecutive night of cold vinegary tomato soup, you'll be wishing you hadn't.

Jul 17, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Haystack needle's distant cousin


Nuka ni kugi

Meaning of Japanese:
Drive a nail through a pile of rice bran

English equivalents:
Like plowing sand
Go in one ear and out the other
Bolt the door with a boiled carrot
To have no effect

Jul 14, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Argument against universal health care?


Binbou-wa tassha-no moto

Meaning of Japanese:
Poverty is the root of (foundation for) good health

English equivalent:

*Can anybody think of something equivalent? I haven't found any aphorisms or popular sayings that match this nicely... most sayings deal with poverty in a negative light. Although, to be fair, I did find two minor (to me) quotes that are pretty close:
"Poverty is the mother of health" - attrib. to George Herbert, and
"Poverty is the step-mother of invention" - attrib. to Josh Billings.

Also related is the "Early to bed and early to rise" quote attrib. to Ben Franklin. The intent of the original Japanese kotowaza above is that those without much money must sleep and rise early, and work hard to make a modest living, this lifestyle supposedly being the best for good physical health.

Jul 13, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: No matter what your language...


Kane-ga mono-wo iu

Meaning of Japanese:
Money talks

English equivalent:
Money talks
Money makes the world go 'round

Jul 11, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: I heard it at the dollar store


Yasumono-kai no zeni-ushinai

Meaning of Japanese:
Buying cheap goods is a waste of money

English equivalent:
Penny wise and pound foolish

Related expression:
You get what you pay for

Jul 9, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Pocket change nirvana


Amida-mo zeni-de hikaru

Meaning of Japanese:
Money will make even the Buddha shine
In a material world, Buddha too must at times rely upon money

English equivalent:
No penny, no Pater Noster

Jul 7, 2005

Music Meme time

About this time last week John slapped me with the music meme stick and then came to visit, ensuring I wouldn't get around to responding for at least a few days. Anyway, here's what I've got...

Total volume of music files on my computer:
Zero GB. I burned about 1G onto a disc for saving when I installed OSX a year ago, and I haven't downloaded or ripped anything since.

Last CD I bought:
It's been a while, thanks to generous friends who keep me supplied with fresh mix CDs. But I believe these three were in my last batch purchase:
Supper, by Smog
Vhunze Moto, by Oliver Mtukudzi
The Power Out, by Electrelane

Song playing right now:
Nothing, because our CD player is on the fritz. The last song playing in the car, however, was "Sunlight" by Herbie Hancock. From Sunlight

Five songs I listen to a lot these days:
"Liquidator" by Harry J. Allstars
From This is Reggae Music: The Golden Era 1960-1975, via a mix John handed me. A repetitious little organ bit, but groovy enough to crank up with the windows down.

"I Am That I Am" by Peter Tosh
Not as uppity as "Stepping Razor," but still an effective spirit lifter on a bad day.

"Super Cool (You're Just Super Fool) by Pat Hunt
One of many great tracks on SuperFunk vol 4, a collection of "rare and classic street funk from the vaults." If you can find a copy, balance this track with "Soul Heaven" by E Rodney Jones and Friends.

"Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver
I was never interested in JD as a child. Now I understand why. His are songs of experience, and many strike deep emotional chords for the more adult me. This track particularly so because it brings back memories of a hiking buddy who died of lung cancer in 2002.

"Watashi to Watashi" by Yuko Hara
Hara sings infectious little ditties in retro-chanson style, at least on the Tokyo Tamoure album I own. This is one is easy to sing along to even if you don't know Japanese.

Okay, I don't know how to tag, but if they're reading I'd be interested in hearing how Safety Neal and Mun Mun would respond to this meme.

Jul 6, 2005

Kotowaza of the day: Think disposable chopsticks


Hachiku no ikioi

Meaning of Japanese:
The force required to split bamboo*

English equivalents:
Ready to leap over nine hedges
Sweep all before oneself
Unstoppable force

*This refers to the great force that must be applied to split bamboo (or any other wood) with the grain. However, once that momentum is reached and the initial split achieved, completing the job is only a matter of following through.