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紙一重 (kami hito-e)

Posted: November 16th, 2008 7:08 pm
by Bob1
Today on a popular Sunday morning classical music program on NHK, they had amateurs conduct an orchestra for short pieces, and afterwards a professional conductor made comments. After a comedian conducted, the conductor complimented him on how effectively he used his eyes to conduct. The comedian replied 「紙一重」(kami hito-e), which my wife explained to me was a self-deprecating idiom suggesting that on the flip side of his eyes lurked only craziness. Although it is not a yojijukugo, it seems to be a very interesting Japanese idiom, derived from the counter for layers of clothing one might wear with a kimono. I still don't have a good handle on it, but perhaps this could be thrown into a yojijukugo-type culture/language lesson.