Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall Seven Times, Rise Eight

A friend asked me for a translation of this beautiful picture of a koi trying to swim up a waterfall.  It is actually a Japanese proverb.  It is read Nanakorobi Yaoki and means roughly, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," or even better, "Never give up." (Thanks, Micah.) In the face of seemingly insurmountable opposition, never give up!
 Literally, the proverb reads "Seven fallings, eight risings" or more smoothly in English "Fall seven times, rise eight." With hiragana, it looks like this.
This particular saying is often associated with the Daruma Doll, an armless, legless doll that falls many times but always finds its way into an upright position. Read the story of the Daruma Doll here.
 For Japanese language students, the proverb breaks down as follows. This is the kanji for
The kanji TEN/koro(bu) has the connotation of turn, remove, change, or in this case fall down, tumble.
The left-radical for this kanji is SHA/kuruma, vehicle, cart, wagon, or car. It kind of reminds me of a wheeled vehicle.
The second half of the proverb starts with the character for eight—HATSU/HACHI/ya.
The final kanji is KI/o(kiru), meaning get up, rise, awake.
Its root (radical) is SO/hashi(ru)—run.
 Note: The capitalized reading is the Onyomi; the miniscule reading the Kunyomi.

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