Tuesday, December 2, 2014

皮切りにして: Cut the skin

A belated happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. I hope you had a wonderful day and hopefully a little time to relax!

Myself, I'm balancing the relaxation with an increasing need to study. On one hand, I've decided to change tracks and pursue IT. It seems to be a pretty lucrative field with a lot of jobs (as compared to just looking for Japan-related positions), and I've always liked computers. I'm hoping to get my CompTIA A+ certification early next year, but the study guide is 1400+ pages, so...yeah, a lot to go through.

On the other hand, I have no intention of abandoning Japanese. Refocus a bit yet, but I still may have a more serious go at translation someday. And with that in mind, I'll be sitting for the JLPT N1 again this Sunday. I don't feel adequately prepared, but at least I'm still working at it.

And so in the spirit of N1 study, I offer up this grammar point I!


I was going through my good ol' Kanzen Masters grammar study book when I came once more across this one. 皮切りにして (かわきりにして) - "to begin with."

Now I could just file that away and move on, but it I'm more likely to remember if I actually try to figure out the structure behind grammar points like this. Literally, this looks like "Cut the skin and..." And yet it somehow works out to "beginning with." There must be some interesting story behind this expression, right?

Cue the Google digging. Ah, results.

It seems this expression finds its origin in traditional Eastern (Chinese) medicine. Specifically, something called moxibustion. Huzzah for learning new English words, too!

Moxibustion is, apparently, in the same vein as acupuncture. Except instead of sticking people with needles, you stick them with burning, uh...sticks. And this can also be done in conjunction with acupuncture needles. Sounds relaxing, right?

That "being flayed" sensation means it's working.

Well as you might imagine, this can sting a bit. The expression came about because at the start of being moxibusted upon (I'm sure that's not the medical term for it, but please excuse this humble layman), one feels as if one's skin is being cut. Ouch. Hence "Cut the skin" came to mean "to begin with."

And now you know.

Image Source 


  1. I like the robot's comment. This is an imperative post!

    1. Haha, yes...guess I better delete that one. Usually the filter takes care of it. =/

  2. learning more and more, thanks man
    and good luck in both comptia and N1 :D

    1. Thanks for dropping a comment! How are you studies going?

    2. Nothing special, could be better could be worse I guess XD

      was kinda excited that ver 2.0 of the slime game is announced, but then as finals are closing in now I hope it doesn't get released until Im done with finals lol