Nisoku Sanmon (二束三文 – Dirt Cheap)

  • Nisoku Sanmon


    Previously, I went to a secondhand bookstore to sell my books, but they became nisoku sanmon (二束三文).

    Nisoku sanmon is a four-character idiom meaning that a selling price is very low even if it is large in number.

    Ni (二) means “two,” soku (束) means “bundle,” san (三) means “three,” and mon (文) is an old Japanese currency unit, the value today of which is about 30 yen (about $0.28), so the literal meaning of nisoku sanmon is “30 yen for two bundles.”
    「二」は “two”、「束」は “bundle”、「三」は “three”、「文」は通貨単位で現在の約30円(約0.28ドル)であるため、「二束三文」の文字どおりの意味は “30 yen for two bundles” となります。

    Here, soku (束) can be written as 足, which represents a unit of footwear, and sanmon is also used to represent a cheap thing.

    Because of this, some people think that this idiom comes from the fact that two pair of Japanese sandals were sold very cheaply in the Edo period.

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