When Idioms Are Taken Literally

Today I learned that when you (or Little Kid You at least) wanna say “When did I ever say/do/etc that?!” You can say 「何月何日何曜日何時何分何秒、地球が何回まわった時?」which means (to translate gracefully) “In what second of what minute of what hour of what day on what date in what month [did I say/do/etc that] and how many times had the Earth turned at that point?”

So of course some smart aleck took the phrase literally and made an app that tells you how many times the Earth has turned at whatever given moment. Now you can instantly shut down any schoolyard punk who tries to deny you said/did/other verbed something by throwing actual (or at least close enough) astronomical data at them. Also Kumamon is apparently involved for some reason.

Similarly, I had learned a while ago that if you want to tell someone to take a long walk off a short pier in Japanese you can say “Go hit your head on the corner of a block of tofu and die” (「豆腐の角に頭をぶつけて死ね」). As if that weren’t awesome enough, someone with way too much time on their hands hypothesized that tofu could indeed be a lethal weapon if shot at a speed of 340 meters per second, and proceeded to build a Tofu Accelerator. Unfortunately the video of this experiment has been set to private, but you can still see screencaps of the experiment here.

Valentine’s Day Bonus!

While we’re on the topic of Japanese apps, there is an otome game where you romance Egyptian gods as high school students. It’s called “Eji Koi” (Egypt Love). I found out about it one day when “otome game” was trending on Twitter in Japan and wondered why. I don’t think it was primarily about this game but when I saw the pictures I thought it was a joke, until finally I saw a tweet that included the name and I was able to Google it and find out that no, it really is a game you can play.

Text: "One day, you meet...handsome Egyptian gods."

Text: “One day, you meet…handsome Egyptian gods.”

Text: “Have a thrilling school life with the Egyptian gods!” Medjed: “Sempai, hand me your bags. I’ll carry them for you.”



You can pursue these three gods, who are described as:

You can pursue these three gods, who are described as →


Anubis, your sempai who has his act together

Anubis: “What is it? Are you a new student?”




Medjed, your mysterious kouhai

Medjed: “Don’t you dare get close to Osiris-sama.”



Horus, the childhood friend you’ve crossed paths with again

Horus: “……’Horu-kun’ is way too embarrassing, so call me ‘Horus’.”



The fact that Horus is your childhood friend amuses me greatly. Though I must admit, at first I was like “Egyptian gods as Japanese high school students what kind of absurdity is this?” but then I remembered:

Tsk, tsk.

Tsk, tsk.


2 thoughts on “When Idioms Are Taken Literally

  1. Idioms are awesome! I especially like the tofu one.
    Compiling a list of these would be cool, although I’m sure someone somewhere has done that already. I should go look for that… I love these things! xD

    • There are a few lists online, but as there are hundreds (thousands?) of idioms, if you want a lot of them at once I’d recommend Kodansha’s Dictionary of Basic Japanese Idioms. It collects 880 idioms, giving definitions and sample sentences in Japanese and English for all of them. However neither of the phrases I introduced in this post are in that dictionary and I’d never ran across them in educational texts. Both of these I first saw in the scripts I translate.

      The tofu one is awesome! XDD

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