Fall, Water, and Rain: Expressions and Vocab

Autumn in Saga PrefectureFor Vancouverites, the end of summer ushers the start of rain.  Rather than dwell on the loss of our flawless, bluebird days, I’d rather use the climatic change as a springboard for learning more about expressions of the fall, rain, and water.


It has been said that the Japanese language at 50 words for rain.  This may be an exaggeration, but you’ve got to admit that there are a lot of them, including: 雨 (あめ – rain); 降雨 (こう – rainfall), 弱雨 (じゃくう – weak rain), 煙雨 (えんう – misty rain), and 大雨 (おおあめ – heavy rain).  For a great list of many rain-related permutations check out this site.

For those who are keen to up their autumn vocabulary game, check out this great article in the Japan Times about fall and the “changing of the leaves”.

If you really want to “wow” people, however, you can turbo-charge your Japanese by learning some fun rain- and water-related expressions, such as:

  • 雨降って地固まる (ame futte chi katamaru):  After a storm, things will stand on more solid ground than they did before, or “adversity builds character”.
  • 水に流す(mizu ni nagasu):  Forgive and forget; water under the bridge.
  • 晴耕雨読 (seiko udoku):  Farm when it’s sunny, read when it rains.
  • 覆水盆に返らず (Fuku sui bon ni kaerazu):  It’s no use crying over spilled milk (water).

As for autumn-inspired expressions, try 秋茄子は嫁に食わすな (akinasu wa yome ni kuwansuna): do not let your daughter-in-law eat autumn eggplants, a reference to the traditionally poor relationship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law, whereby the former would not squander eggplants in their prime on the latter.  Let it never be said that Japanese is a boring language.


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