6 Japanese Yojijukugo You Should Know

Do you experience setbacks and frustration while learning Japanese? When you forget to see the progress that you’re making and losing motivation, let go of the grammar and the kanji.  Take the time to pick-up a few Japanese phrases here and there. You’ll have a fun understanding their meaning and it’ll give you insight on how Japanese people think. Not to mention how mysterious and wise you’ll sound to any native speaker when you drop one of these casually into conversation!

If you’re curious about the topic, you’ll soon find out that the Japanese have many sayings, idioms and proverbs and among these, the 四字熟語よじじゅくご, literally the “four character idiomatic phrase”.  Composed of 4 kanji, the overall meaning of a yojijukugo cannot be inferred from the individual characters’ meanings. I’ve gathered 6 of them that you’ll certainly cross on your path to Japanese fluency.

  1. 三日坊主みっかぼうず 
    “A monk for (just) three days.”
    Meaning “giving up at the first sign of difficulty”, a more elegant way to talk about a quitter. If Japanese is giving you a hard time, hang on!
  2. 一石二鳥いっせきにちょう
    “One stone, two birds.”
    The exact equivalent to “killing two birds with one stone”. Achieve two ends with a single effort. Which is what you’re doing right now, as getting to know Japanese sayings help you with both vocabulary and kanji!
  3. 花鳥風月かちょうふうげつ
    “Flower, Bird, Wind, Moon.”
    More poetic than anything else, this one means to experience the beauties of nature, and in doing so learn about yourself.
  4. 一期一会いちごいちえ
    “One life, one encounter.”
    A reference to Buddhist Zen, and very old wisdom words. Remember to treasure every day-to-day encounters.
  5. ー日一歩いちにちいっぽ
    “One day, one step.”Meaning “slowly but surely”.
    There’s a lot to learn in Japanese, so remember, studying is taking a step forward day by day!
  6. 電光石火でんこうせっか
    “(fast) As the lightening and flint stone’s spark.”
    This one insists on being “as fast as lightening”. A quality much appreciated in the Japanese workplace.

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