Friday, March 14, 2014

From the Archives: Warm and Cold

I don't usually repost old material, but lately the weather has really been making me think of this Japanese expression that I introduced a few years ago. Although perhaps now I'd translate it as "three cold four warm," as this time of year it doesn't really get "hot." Anyway, if you're living in a temperate clime and just biding your time until spring arrives, here's some Japanese for you, originally posted in March 2010:


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:

三寒四温

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.

2 comments:

eggandgoo said...

And what about the Japanese expats you work with now?

Blue Shoe said...

I mentioned it to my boss this morning and he seemed to know what I was talking about.

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