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Garyō Tensei wo Kaku (画竜点睛を欠く – Lacking the Finishing Touch)

  • Garyō Tensei wo Kaku


    When the most important part of completing something is missing, you can express the situation with the idiom garyō tensei wo kaku (画竜点睛を欠く).

    Garyō (画竜) means “painted dragon,” tensei (点睛) means “to draw eyes,” and kaku (欠く) means “to miss.” Therefore, the literal meaning of garyō tensei wo kaku (画竜点睛を欠く) is “to miss drawing the dragon’s eyes.”
    「画竜」は「絵に描いた竜」、「点睛」は「瞳を描き入れること」、「欠く」は “to miss” を意味するので、「画竜点睛を欠く」の文字どおりの意味は “to miss drawing the dragon’s eyes” となります。

    This idiom originates from the story of the Chinese painter “Zhang Sengyou.”

    Zhang was commissioned to paint four dragons on the temple wall, and he completed a great painting in three days. However, he did not draw the dragons’ eyes, reasoning that the dragons would fly out of the wall.

    When people called Zhang a liar, he reluctantly drew the eyes of the two dragons. Then the dragons became real and flew away into the sky.

    Original sentence