Nihongo of the Day: 成らぬ堪忍するが堪忍

Have been watching 日本語で遊ぼ (literally, “Playing in Japanese”) with Layla every day.  It’s an awesome show that highlights elements of traditional culture and language in a format that’s fun for kids and interesting to parents (or, at least, interesting to one gaijin dad).

The Japanese introduced is often lesser used, if not bordering on archaic.   Today we learned “成らぬ堪忍するが堪忍”, which in English would — I think — roughly translate to “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… so just put up with the status quo.”

I can’t tell you how many times I could have used this phrase while living in Japan.  Like, say, when the wealthy yet crazy neighbor would come over and shower me with junk (old pots, broken plates, flat bicycle tires, etc.) because she thought I might find it useful.

I couldn’t refuse the junk.. that would upset her and cause trouble in the neighborhood.  But I also couldn’t throw it away again; she would notice, get upset, and that would… cause trouble in the neighborhood.

So I hid two years worth of slowly accumulating junk under the house I was renting.


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