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From the relatable to the amoo-sing, there’re idioms for Japanese language learners of all skill levels.

Based on the lunar calendar and a 12-year cycle, the Chinese zodiac plays an important role in multiple Asian countries. Rather than interpreting constellations, like the Western horoscope, the Chinese zodiac prescribes attributes to each year in its cycle that cover a wide range of topics, such as one’s personality and life events. Japan celebrates the start of the new year on January 1, when it also gets a head start on the upcoming Chinese zodiac animal. With celebrations for the Lunar New Year now underway across Asian countries and communities, it’s the Year of the Ox all over, so to celebrate we’re introducing five Japanese idiomatic expressions which feature the stubborn but dependable ox (or cow, since the Japanese language uses the same word for both of them).

1. Gyuuin bashoku — drink like an ox, eat like a horse

Ever ate way more than you needed to just because you can? Like how an ox drinks water and how a horse demolishes a pile of hay, this saying is the perfect way to summarize that you’re eating past your stomach’s limit. If your waistband suddenly feels a little too tight and you want to use this phrase, simply attach the verb shita (“did”) to declare “gyuuin bashoku shita” and revel in all the gluttonous glory.

▼ Don’t mind me… itadakimasu!

2. Kyuugyuu ichimou — nine oxen, one hair

Alternately kyuugyuu no ichimou, …continue reading