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Yojijukugo ---  Four-Character-Idiom
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Yojijukugo | Four-Character-Idiom

vol. 21

Yojijukugo is a Japanese idiom consisted of four kanji. Many are based on the ideas of Chinese traditions or classical texts.

In other words, you can also say that yojijukugo is a piece of art, of building up four kanji with individual meanings into one phrase with one meaning. As compared to the number of characters the information they carry is so much bigger, and because it can help smoothening communication between people who know the word yojijukugo is often used for promo words. There are even some new yojijukugo invented by copywriters.

I sometimes see non-Japanese people with yojijukugo tatoos, but there are some that makes me wonder if they really know the meaning.
So here, I will introduce you some yojijukugo that have good meanings and good appearance.

知行合一 [ learning by practicing ]


"chi" = knowledge, to know
"kou" = action, behavior, to take action, to do
"gou" = to go/put together
"itsu" = one

Knowing and doing always come together – as opposed to the idea of thoroughly studying knowledge first and only then taking action, this Confucian idea advocates that knowledge and action are and should always be sets. In another words, knowledge can be obtained only through practice, and doing something always accompanies learning. 

論功行賞 [ granting of rewards ]


"ron" = to examine, to discuss
"kou" = achievement, credit
"kou" = action, behavior, to take action, to do
"shou"= award, prize, reward

”Ronkou” is to examine and discuss one’s achievement, and “koushou” is to grant him/her with the appropriate reward, without over or under-evaluation.

清廉潔白 [incorruption, rectitude]


"sei " = clean
"ren " = unselfish, clean
"ketsu " = clean, noble
"haku " = white

All four characters for this idiom, although they may look different and mean slightly different, practically have the same meaning of “clean”. What the idiom as a whole means “to have a pure, clean and righteous heart and mind, hence to behave righteously”. “Seiren” apart from having a righteous heart, also means to disregard or not be affected by any kind of personal interest or greed. “Keppaku” also means innocent or not guilty.

奮励努力 [to make strenuous efforts]


"fun " = to arouse, summon up
"rei " = work, endeavor
"do " = to make effort, to endeavor
"ryoku " = power

The idiom literally means to arouse all of one’s energy and will to endeavor for the achievement for a great goal. Deriving from this original meaning, it is used as a motto or mental posture for achievement and success, as well as describing a society where human intellect has developed and people’s lives have become convenient.

英姿颯爽 [brisk and gallant]


" ei " = excellence, to excel in, beauty
"shi " = figure, appearance
" satsu " = brisk, gallant
" sou " = fresh

Eishi” is an admirable figure excelling in appearance (beauty) but more so in character (virtue), and “sassou” is to have brisk and gallant with momentum. All together, this idiom describes a confident person who is fast and fair in action.


I'd like to continue introducing you yojijukugo with good meanings and cool appearance.
Or if you have any questions, like, "what does my tatoo really mean?", don't hesitate to give us an e-mail :-)

Of course, we still welcome those who want to have their names converted in kanji. Just e-mail to samurai@jmode.co.jp


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