Uki Uki NihonGO! Lesson 31 – Idioms

March 9, 2016 - March 9, 2016
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Welcome to Uki Uki NihonGO! + Culture

Today, we’re studying 四字熟語 (yoji jukugo): Japanese 4-character idioms.

四字熟語 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 四字熟語 we’re introducing today.

one stone, two birds

一石二鳥 (isseki nichou) = to kill two birds with one stone


weak meat, strong eat

弱肉強食 (jakuniku kyoushoku) = survival of the fittest, cut-throat


old, present, east, west

古今東西 (kokon touzai) = universal, all time and places


previous generation, not yet heard

前代未聞 (zendai mimon) = unheard-of, unprecedented


dangerous chance, single hair

危機一髪 (kiki ippatsu) = by a hair’s breadth, touch and go, close call, critical moment


Some 四字熟語 gives advice.

first hand, definite victory

先手必勝 (sente hisshou) = victory goes to the one who makes the first move, the early bird gets the worm


one’s life, risk life

一生懸命 (isshou kenmei) = with utmost effort, with all your might


And some 四字熟語 tells you what NOT to do.

needle small, stick large

針小棒大 (shinshou boudai) = exaggeration, to make a mountain out of a molehill


eight directions, pretty person

八方美人 (happou bijin) = a person who shows people what they want to see but not their true self


three day, monk apprentice

三日坊主 (mikka bouzu) = monk for three days, person who cannot stick to anything

何をやっても三日坊主なんです。I can’t stick to anything very long.

self portrait, self praise

自画自賛 (jiga jisan) = to sing one’s own praises


self action, self receive

自業自得 (jigou jitoku) = to pay for one’s mistakes, reap what you saw


This is a particularly beautiful 四字熟語:

one chance, one encounter

一期一会 (ichigo ichie) = once-in-a-lifetime encounter, hence should be cherished as such


Music by Soichiro Migita

  • Mar 09, 2016 at 12:00 am