Expression: Marriages & Sea Sponges

Another interesting expression/idiom

偕老同穴(かいろうどうけつ): Till Death Do Us Part (lit. Together Death Same Hole)

Kotobank quotes the Book of Odes which contains the poem:


While living, we may have to occupy different apartments;
But when dead, we shall share the same grave.
If you say that I am not sincere,
By the bright sun I swear that I am.

(Translation from ctext)

Apparently, in Japan, this expression is also used as the name for the sea sponge called a Venus’ Flower Basket. To quote Wikipedia:

In traditional Asian cultures, this particular sponge (in a dead, dry state) was given as a wedding gift because the sponge symbiotically houses two small shrimp, a male and a female, who live out their lives inside the sponge. They breed, and when their offspring are tiny, the offspring escape to find a Venus’ flower basket of their own. The shrimp inside the basket clean it and, in return, the basket provides food for the shrimp by trapping it in its tissues and then releasing wastes into the body of the sponge for the shrimp. It is also speculated that the bioluminescent light of bacteria harnessed by the sponge may attract other small organisms which the shrimp eat.

Source: Yoru no Mijikashi





When you walk down the Takase river from the intersection at Shijoukiyamachi – down that dark street into downtown – there’s a certain old 3-storey Western restaurant done up in wood. The trees running alongside the Takase river are bathed in the warm light from over there.

But, even in this normally warm scenery, there was something even warmer within. It had crossed the threshold to piping hot.

Having just pledged their eternal dues, the newly married till-death-do-us-part couple could be said to be the very article of heavensent flawlessness – and while he carried his princess in his arms, exchanging those full kisses for the camera to catch – they piped hotter than hot cross buns in that very state of matrimonial contentment – fearlessly piping to the point where the surrounding congregation were burnt black in their boots.

Expression: Violence Begets Violence

The Japanese version is:


Which translates directly to ‘Exercised violence begets further violence’

Source: Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome




Perchance you would know what a “Friendship Fist” is?

If – that period comes about which necessitates directing a fine visitation of an iron-fist upon the soft muscular of a proximal human’s cheek, we grit our fists. I shall kindly illustrate it for you. Kindly witness the thumb, left on the outside to enclose the fist – namely, the other four fingers… stuck together like metal fittings while locked in by that mechanism. The fact of this thumb is what charges up the fist, ensuring that this comrade’s cheek and pride shall undergo a full pulverization until not an unbesmirched locale is left. There is that ever so important expression left to us in history that “the act of violence shall invite further violence” – and with this thumb as the starting point, may we find the flames of our hate spreading outwardly into the fields of the world, and in that soon forthcoming madness and despair – shall all of our most cherished and beautiful be placed into the gutters and pisspots without a single exception.

Kagerou Touryuuki – A Dark and Narrow Room



And to speak of the light sources in the room, we would have to point to only the lamplight of a paper lantern in a single nook. Coming from an old illuminant like that, even the light itself looked old, and there was the charm of the deepening shadows wherever the light encountered the darkness.


Kagerou Touryuuki – Sensual Skin



In the darkness, with a layer of those black robes pulled down to her shoulders. Emerging, tender skin as if a smear of tallow – white, so white, in the darkness.

Source: Kagerou Touryuuki




To microwave something (seems to be microwave ‘range’ + the ching sound of an oven)




Experimental Translation: Yukio Mishima Golden Pavilion

I was reading the translation, and I realized exactly how much had been butchered. The English plays out the grammar in full, but that misses out on the little elegant turns that makes Mishima great.



So, I wanted to see if I could give Mishima my own weird translation, to try and capture the sense.


My father’s hometown had the tremendity of skylight on the soil. But in every year, the 11th or 12th month around, on happy days where even a probable cloud bore not in sight, would we have five or six drizzles reach. And the easy waver of my heart & mind was, mayhaps, born on such soil, so I thought.

Doesn’t quite fit. Too precious. Also I think I translated たとえ slightly wrongly, since it can also be read as “even on, for example, happy days where there was not a single cloud.”


My father’s birthplace – had lucidity of light on the soil. But in every year, roughly 11th or 12th month round, even on some happy days with not a cloud bearing in sight, would four or five drizzles reach. My wavering heart was, possibly, a thing born from this ground. That was what I thought.


Expression – implying lack of experience and an inability to grasp the essence of things

Source – Bengarachou Hakubutsushi



This so-called writer was still around the age of 20, and of those works he brought to the fore, questioning the epoch he was situated in, were only one or two volumes – and thus he was a beginner that had neither grasped the seas nor the mountains, so to put it quite frankly, we can lose that profound vision of depth, and see him as a young fledgling chick learning how to fly, cheekily pecking about with his soft beak.

Kyoka’s Moon. Dogen’s Moon.

The Chinese Idiom 镜花水月 (the flower in the mirror and the moon in the water) refers to the idea of an epheremal beauty beyond grasp. This idiom was picked up by Izumi Kyoka as the basis for his pseudonym (泉 鏡花).

Zen master Dogen uses the image of the moon in the water twice in his lecture – Genjou Koan.


(For the mind and body have left us with colors that we clutch with our eyes, and the mind and body has left us with voices that we clutch with your ears, and though we are intimate with this entire grasping, it is neither like a mirror catching a shadow, nor like the water and the moon. When a side is revealed, a side is darkened.)

The notes in the English Translation interprets as such:

“Here, Dogen uses the image of ‘the moon in the water’ to refer to something that is only a reflection of the actual object; the phrase is not used in the sense of the common Buddhist metaphor for the Buddha Nature reflected in all things”

“When we are still clinging to things, we do not see the duality inherent within our own thinking and thus we perceive only one side of the duality”.

This paragraph is (to me) talking about how our senses are not as clearcut as a reflection capturing an image. We only grasp a side, while another is always kept in shadow.

Yet, Dogen shifts the image around when he explains his conception of the enligtened man:

人のさとりをうる、水に月のやどるがごとし。月ぬれず、水やぶれず。ひろくおほき(おほき=大きい Ooki) なるひかりにてあれど、尺寸の水にやどり、全月も彌天も、くさの露にもやどり、一滴の水にもやどる。さとりの人をやぶらざる事、月の水をうがたざるがごとし。人のさとりを罣礙 (Impediment, Hindrance)せざること、滴露の天月を罣礙せざるがごとし。ふかきことはたかき分量なるべし。時節の長短は、大水小水を撿点し、天月の広狭を辦取すべし。

(When a man is enlightened, he is like the moon in the water. The moon isn’t wet, and the water is untouched. Although formed as a massive bulb of light, it rests in a small waterdrop, and even the entire moon and sky are caught in the grass’s dew through the reflection of a single drop. Just as the light of enlightenment breaks not the man, neither too does the moon split the water. A person’s enlightenment does not impede, as a dewdrop’s moon does not impede. The depth will hew to the heights, as to the depth of droplets and the height of moons. And as for how many seasons and times shall pass in the reflection, we look to how far hands can reach into the sizes of the waters, and how much handle can be had upon the longitude of moons.)

In each of these circumstances, how is the moon to be taken?

In the first, for its sad beauty and epheremal inconstancy in the lake.

In the second, it’s referring to the clarity of the representation within the reflected surface and how this is a false view of things.

In the third, it becomes a vision of oneness with nature, where enlightenment sits man to become as much of what he is as possible, rather than disturbing his internal state.

So should we be sad at the image of the moon in the water, or is this, in fact, a sign of a greater and loftier vision of the world? A vision where the image of the moon in a dewdrop contains as much depths as that sphere in the sky, and as much depths in the minds of mens and poets who have used the image for their own purposes.

Itoi’s Almost Daily Diary 11/13/16 – Translation

Link here

Dogs and cats play with their toys. Satisfied in whatever kind of hunting instinct, or happily gnawing on any given feed – they play without knowing the reason of their play.

Humans too will play with toys. Toys where you have to build up a form, or even toys that can be defined by rulebooks. There are also toys like quizzes – which they’ll puzzle themselves over. Toys where you have fun although you’re just observing, and toys where you get on and run. And if you really think about it, that thing that we call work – can’t we say that we’re really just playing around in the midst of the time itself? Everybody and everyone – just Piipyara Piipyara-ing along! Even space-flying rocketships, and large temples, and the haute-est couture in fashion, and paintings, and dramas, and stories, and movies – everyone’s toys!

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