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Haisui no Jin (背水の陣 – Burning One’s Boats)

  • Haisui no Jin


    When one is in a critical situation where they cannot step back and face challenges with a do-or-die resolve, it is described as haisui no jin (背水の陣).

    Since hai (背) means “back,” sui (水) means “water,” and jin (陣) means “formation,” the literal meaning of haisui no jin is “formation with one’s back to the water.”
    「背」は “back”、「水」は “water”、「陣」は “formation” を意味するので、「背水の陣」の文字どおりの意味は “formation with one’s back to the water” となります。

    This idiom originates from a biography contained in Shiki (史記 – “Records of the Grand Historian”).

    When the warlord Han Xin battled the army of Zhao, he positioned his soldiers with their backs to the river.

    By placing them in such a situation where they could not step back, the soldiers fought with determination and won.

    Original sentence