One of the most fun parts of a language are their colourful expressions. This is especially true of animal expressions, and of the animal that seems to have a special place in Japan: Cats! These furry friends seem to make their way into art, books, clothes…and sushi…that will blow your mind.
Anyway, here are a few great cat expressions that are cute, interesting, and can turbo-charge your Japanese conversational skills:
- Neko no hitai (猫の額): A narrow space. Literally means a “cat’s forehead”.
- Neko no koban (猫に小判): Means to give something valuable to someone who will not appreciate it. “Koban” is the name given to coins in old Japan.
- Neko ni kaburu (猫をかぶる): To pretend to be innocent when in fact one is not; to put on airs. It literally means to wear a cat on one’s head.
- Neko no te mo karitai (猫の手も借りたい): To be extremely busy/short-staffed. Literally means I would even use/borrow a cat’s hand/paw to lighten the work.
- Nekozuwari (猫座り): To sit with a hunched back.
- Nekojita (猫舌): Not to be able to eat/drink hot food.
- Neko manma (猫まんま): To add soup to rice (which is not polite) or make food so simple it may pass for cat food. Incidentally, there a a great “Shinya Shokudo” episode (Season 1, Episode 2) about “Neko Manma” food.