Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Let's enjoy Japanese: Hot and Cold

The last couple weeks have been pretty mild. There was even a day or two that got up to around 18 C (about 64 F). And then it got cold again. And rainy and miserable. Towards the end of the week, though, things may heat up again. This kind of weather isn't unusual for the end of winter in temperate climes.

The other day I learned that there is a Japanese expression for this type of weather behavior. It's even a yo-ji (word or phrase made up of a 4-kanji chain)! Ready? Here it is:


It's pronounced 「さんかんしおん」(sankan-shion). Literally, the kanji mean "three cold four hot." When put into its proper context, it refers to the weather cycle that follows the rough pattern of three cold days and then four warm days.

I think it's a pretty cool phrase to know, but just be warned that it's not exactly mainstream. I learned it from a teacher that I work with, and although I tried to sneak it into conversations with some of my Japanese coworkers and friends, only about half of them knew what I was talking about.

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