En no shita no Chikaramochi – 縁の下の力持ち

In the “E” edition of the “A I U E O” blog, we would like to introduce a Japanese saying.
Have you ever heard of the saying “縁の下の力持ち En-no-shita-no-chikara-mochi?”
A: “What do I do? I’m a wedding planner. I run around doing behind-the-scenes work at
weddings. It’s a dull job but it’s also a hard job.”
B: “Really? But you’re working to help a very special once-in-a-lifetime event happen,
What an amazing job! You’re an “En-no-shita-no-chikara-mochi”!”
A: “It sounds nice when you put it that way. It makes my job seem worthwhile.”
“En-no-shita” refers to the space under the floor in Japanese houses in the old days,
and “chikara-mochi” means “a person with strength”. So, the literal meaning of
“En-no-shita-no-chikara-mochi” is “Someone supporting the entire house from under the
floor”, which translates to ” a person(or a job), that supports someone/something from
a place where no one is watching.” Such people/jobs are an integral part of a company,
and society in general.
There are many examples of such hardworking people hidden from the limelight,
like people who work backstage at a musical or staff members who support F-1 racers.
If you think about it, only a handful of people are actually in the limelight and
the great majority of people are those who support such people in the background.
The great thing about Japanese society is that these “supporters” are recognized and
appreciated. The term “En-no-shita-no-chikara-mochi” is used when praising others or
when one tries to make themselves appealing to others.
*When praising others:
“Needless to say, our leader Yamada-san and his great efforts contributed to the success
of this project. But we cannot forget about Yoshioka-san, who supported us as the
*Making yourself appealing to others (During a job interview) :
“I was one of the managers of our college’s ice hockey team.
As an “En-no-shita-no-chikara-mochi”, I supported them in the background by managing
the players’ health as well as their schedules, while they won 3 national competitions”.
The underlying feeling we have when we talk about others is the feeling of gratitude
we have for them. Let’s not forget to tell these people “Thank you, I’m grateful”
like 本当にありがとうございます。感謝しています。.
Are there any “En-no-shita-no-chikara-mochi”s around you? If you have the chance,
why not express your gratitude to them using this term?

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