CultureEssayEtymologyIdiomJapanese traditionLanguageProverbUncorrected

Oni no Inu Ma ni Sentaku (鬼の居ぬ間に洗濯 – When the Cat Is Away, the Mice Will Play)

  • Oni no Inu Ma ni Sentaku


    While there are no scary or annoying people around, you can forget about daily hardships and relax.

    Such a situation can be described as the Japanese proverb oni no inu ma ni sentaku (鬼の居ぬ間に洗濯).

    Oni (鬼) means “ogre.”
    I/iru (居/居る) means “to exist.”
    Nu (ぬ) is a negative suffix.
    Ma (間) means “while.”
    Sentaku (洗濯) means “washing.”
    「居/居る」・・・”to exist”

    Therefore, the literal meaning of this proverb is “washing while ogres are away.”
    したがって「鬼の居ぬ間に洗濯」の文字どおりの意味は、”washing while ogres are away” となります。

    In this context, oni is used as a metaphor for “scary person,” and sentaku implies “cleansing one’s life.”

    In English, there is a similar phrase, “When the cat is away, the mice will play.”
    英語にも、「猫がいないとき、ネズミは遊ぶ (“When the cat is away, the mice will play.”)」という似た表現があります。

    Original sentence