Yoji-jukugo are idiomatic expressions made up of four kanji characters. Japanese is normally written with three types of scripts: kanji, hiragana and katakana, but these idiomatic words are written in kanji only and with no kana between them.
Yoji-jukugo contain classical wisdom or morals in short phrases. In English there are words that people use which make them sound intelligent or denote higher education. Japanese also has words that educated people are more likely to know. Yoji-jukugo are such words. There are hundreds of yoji-jukugo. Some of them are not even familiar to the Japanese, therefore they are often asked at a school's entrance examination to test one's knowledge.
Here are some yoji-jukugo commonly used. There are sound files to help your pronunciation. Learn them and impress your Japanese friends!
Click the link to hear the pronunciation.
Literally means, "one stone, two birds." English has the same expression, "killing two birds with one stone." Click here to learn the kanji character for "bird."
Literally means, "one day, a thousand autumns." A wider translation is, "to look forward to something eagerly." When you are waiting for something, one day seems to be as long as a thousand years. Click here to learn the kanji character for "autumn."
Literally means, "danger, one hair." It is similar to English expressions "by the skin of one's teeth" or "a close call" etc. This word came from the situation that one is pulling something heavy with one hair, and it is nearly broken.
Literally means, "self-deed, self-gain." A wider translation is, "to suffer for doing wrong." It is similar to English expressions "you deserve what you get" or "you asked for it" etc.
Literally means, "before time, never heard." A wider translation is, "unheard of" or "unusual." Click here to learn the kanji character for "to hear".
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