Language Lesson

Uki Uki NihonGO! Lesson 31 - Idioms

Welcome to Uki Uki NihonGO! + Culture

Today, we’re studying yoji jukugo: Japanese 4-character idioms. Yoji jukugo can convey a lot. This is possible because each Kanji character has a meaning. That’s why Kanji phrases are succinct yet powerful.

Here are several yoji jukugo we’re introducing today.

One stone, two birds. isseki nichou = to kill two birds with one stone
Weak meat, strong eatjakuniku kyoushoku = survival of the fittest, cut-throat old, present, east, west kokon touzai = universal, all time and places
Previous generation, not yet heard, zendai mimon = unheard-of, unprecedented
Dangerous chance, single hair. kiki ippatsu = by a hair’s breadth, touch and go, close call, critical moment
Some Yoji jukugo gives advice. first hand, definite victory. sente hisshou = victory goes to the one who makes the first move, the early bird gets the worm
One’s life, risk life. isshou kenmei = with utmost effort, with all your might. And some Yoji jukugo tells you what NOT to do. needle small, stick large. shinshou boudai = exaggeration, to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Eight directions, pretty person. happou bijin = a person who shows people what they want to see but not their true self.
Three day, monk apprentice. mikka bouzu = monk for three days, person who cannot stick to anything.
I can’t stick to anything very long. self portrait, self praise. jiga jisan = to sing one’s own praises self action, self receive. jigou jitoku = to pay for one’s mistakes. This is a particularly beautiful Yoji jukugo: one chance, one encounter ichigo ichie = once-in-a-lifetime encounter.

Music by Soichiro Migita

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