Learn

Tweet of the Week #110: It’s All about Perspective

Check out this local monk's modern take on a Buddhist proverb.

By 2 min read

In Japan, Buddhist temples use bulletin boards (掲示板けいじばん) to inspire us and help lead us closer on the path to enlightenment.

They’re usually located near the main entrance gates leading to the temple grounds. The local monks post handwritten calligraphy of proverbs or life lessons to inspire or stir visitors. In recent years, temples’ boards have been surprising visitors with catchy slogans or interesting puns. This trend led to the “Let it Shine!” project, which invites Japanese people to share and vote for the best temple bulletin boards of the year.

In 2018, the winner was Gifu’s Ganren Temple, which posted the slogan “You will die someday.”

Life lessons

てら格言かくげん掲示板、いつもハッとさせられるけど、ここまで衝撃しょうげきけたのはめて。

“The temple’s proverb-bulletin board is always a surprise, but it’s the first time I’ve been shocked so far.”

Food for thought

Earlier this week, the chief priest @matsuzakichikai of Eimyou temple (永明寺) in Kitakyushu shared a Buddhist sermon on Twitter that didn’t go unnoticed.

掲示板の法語ほうごえました
モノの見方みかた世界せかいわるのです

“I changed the Buddhist sermon on the bulletin board.
The world changes depending on how you see things.”

The tweet earned 150K likes and a flood of responses, this modern times’ proverb reads:

“グラム単価たんかかんがえるとポルシェよりふりかけのほうたかい”

“If you think in grams, furikake (dried Japanese condiment) is more expensive than a Porsche.”

We did the math and it checks out. We guess no one is purchasing two tons of furikake anytime soon!

Make a comparison with より ~ (の)方が

inu yori neko no houga kawaii!

In Japanese, (A)より(B)の方が helps make a comparison between nouns, adjectives and verbs. The word coming before より is always the “lesser” thing, while the one before (の)方が is always the “better” thing. The particle の should be attached to 方が whenever you use it with a noun.

高尾山たかおさんより富士山ふじさんの方が高いです = Mount Fuji is taller than Mount Takao.

日本語にほんごくよりはなす方が上手じょうずです= I’m better at speaking Japanese than I’m at writing it.

Both より and 方が can be used independently. While より can mean “rather than” or “as opposed to” — a structure you often find with Japanese short sayings — 方が translates that something is simply “better” without making a specific comparison.

きんよりからだ = Health is better than wealth.

あかいワインの方がおいしい = Red wine is better.

Vocabulary

Japanese Romaji English
てら otera Buddhist temple
格言かくげん kakugen Proverb/ Maxim
衝撃しょうげきける shyokugeki o ukeru Be shocked
法語ほうご hougo Buddhist sermon
モノの見方みかた mono no mikata Viewpoint
単価たんか tanka Unit

 

Related

Learn

Tweet of the Week #114: Old-fashioned Japanese Remedies Crack Twitter Up

Should you really wear cabbage on your head to reduce a fever?

By 2 min read

Learn

Tweet of the Week #113: Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

How do you talk about snow in Japanese?

By 2 min read

Learn

Tweet of the Week #112: Have a Happy Year Of The Ox!

Learn the kanji for the Chinese zodiac!

By 3 min read