Arguments & Fights in Japanese! – “Kenka suruhodo naka ga ii” – AIUEO Blog


Have you had an argument or fight (けんか, kenka) with someone lately? After a fight, whether it’s with a friend or a significant other, you often feel down.
You may think, “I didn’t mean to say that,” or “maybe I went too far.”  But are fights really all that bad?  In today’s AIUEO blog, we would like to introduce a few Idioms / Proverbs that relate to the Japanese word for argument – “kenka (けんか)”.
The following is an example that includes all of today’s Idioms:
Woman A: Mrs. C is fighting with her husband again.  She’s saying that this time, they will definitely be breaking up.  I wonder if they’re going to be okay…
Man B:  Don’t worry about it.  They’re “kenka suru hodo naka ga ii, けんかするほどなかがいい” (so close, they fight), right?  By fighting like that, the relationship grows deeper.  As they say, “fufugenka wa inu mo kuwanai, 夫婦喧嘩は犬も食わない, ふうふげんかはいぬもくわない” (even a dog won’t eat a married couple’s quarrel), so it’s better to leave them alone.
Woman A: Well, that may be so…but I hope their fight doesn’t drag on and become a “ken-en no naka, けんえんのなか” (the relationship of dogs and monkeys).
Do you know a pair who often fights and even concerns those around them, but for some reason remain very close?  Being “kenka suru hodo naka ga ii, けんかするほどなかがいい” (so close you fight) means that since you are so close, you can express your true feelings with each other, and because of that honesty you often fight, but are also able to easily patch things up. It’s precisely because you are close that you can fight.
Next, “夫婦喧嘩は犬も食わない, fufugenka wa inu mo kuwanai, ふうふげんかはいぬもくわない” (even a dog won’t eat a married couple’s quarrel) which means that even a dog, which will eat anything, will not eat (=show interest in) something like a lover’s quarrel, which passes in a flash. That is, it’s a waste of time to worry about it.
A saying/proverb with a meaning opposite to this is “犬猿の仲kenen no naka, けんえんのなか” (the relationship of dogs and monkeys). This proverb means that a relationship is beyond repair, as in the one represented by dogs and monkeys.  In Japan, dogs and monkeys are often seen as having a bad relationship.  A famous example of 犬猿の仲 is found in Shakespeare’s famous work “Romeo and Juliet,” in which the characters’ parents were “kenen no naka” going generations back, and opposed the lovers’ marriage. Therefore, if there are “kenka” that deepen relationships, there are also ones that deepen contempt.
Today I introduced three idioms relating to arguments/fights. Having a partner that you can fight with is actually quite a fortunate thing. But, don’t forget to have a considerate heart for your partner. Otherwise, you may become “ken-en no naka”!

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