10 “Shiro” useful expressions for any situations

 

10 Shiro useful expressions for any situations

I was born in Japan, but have lived and travelled all around the world. As I learn different languages, I notice that there are many expressions that are hard to understand for non-native speakers. Today, I want to explain how to use the word “Shiro,” which means the white color in Japanese. In English, the word “white” can be used in an expression such as “a white lie.” The word “Shiro” can also be used in expressions and has different meanings other than just simply describing a color. Here are 10 expressions with the word “Shiro.” I will explain their meaning and how to use them in everyday conversation.



 

10 “Shiro” useful expressions for any situations

 

1. Shiro kuro tsukeru (Draw the distinction between white and black)

This expression literally means “draw the distinction between white and black.” You might be able to see the metaphor. It actually means “determine whether something is right or wrong, or good or bad.” Basically, we use this expression to tell someone that we need to come up with a conclusion or determining who is right. Sometimes we also say “shiro kuro hakkiri saseru” which means the same thing. In a meeting, it’s very common to have diverging opinions on a topic. That’s when you can say, “sorosoro shiro kuro hakkiri sasemashou.” It expresses your wish to come up with a decision and finish the meeting soon. We also use this expression before a game or a match. When a match is about to start, we tell our opponent, “shiro kuro tsukeyou” in order to express our determination to win this match. Here it means “we will know who is stronger after this match.”

 

2. Atamano naka ga shiroku naru (It becomes white inside my head)

Literally, this expression means “it becomes white inside my head.” The closest translation of this expression in English would be “my mind goes blank.” When we are stressed or in a state of panic, we are often unable to think. We describe this state as “atamano naka ga shiroku naru.” You can easily use this expression in everyday conversation. When a friend of yours asks you how the exam went, for example, you can say “ kintyou shite, atamano nakaga shiroku natta.” (I was nervous and my mind went blank) It’s a great way to explain to your friend why you didn’t perform as well as you wished. You can also tell your Japanese friends that sometimes it’s hard for you to speak in Japanese because “atamano naka ga shiroku naru.” It often happens to me when I feel nervous speaking in foreign languages.

 

3. Iki ga shiroi (my breath is white)

You might be able to guess what this expression means in Japanese if you can picture it. It describes a situation when we can see our breath in the cold weather. When it’s cold, it looks like smoke is coming out from our mouth when we breath. We call it “white breath” in Japanese. When it gets cold, you can use this expression to tell your friend “Iki ga shiroku naruhodo samui.” That means “it’s so cold that we can see our breath.”

 

4. Shiroi me de miru (Watch someone with white eyes)

This expression is a hard one to guess. It means “see someone coldly” in English. Have you ever experienced doing something in public, that isn’t socially approved? When you do, you can notice other people around you is watching you coldly with disapproval. This expression describes a situation like this. In Japan, for example, it is commonly understood that we shouldn’t make a lot of noise on a train. If someone is talking loudly on a mobile phone on a train, people will look at you with disapproval, “shiroi me de miru.” We usually use this expression in passive form in everyday life: “Shiroi me de mirareru” which means people look at me coldly. I am sure you should have at least one embarrassing episode that happened in a public place in Japan. It’s always hard to know every social rules when you are in a foreign country. When you tell your friends how people were looking coldly in those situations, you can say, “shiroi me de mirareta.”

 

5. Shiroi ha wo miseru (Show my white teeth)

This one isn’t so hard to picture. It simply means “smile.” When we are relaxed and happy, we smile and show our teeth. How can you use it in everyday situation? You can use it to describe someone having fun. When you went out with a new friend, he/she is having a great time if “shiroi ha wo misete warau.” That means “he/she had a big smile on one’s face.” We sometimes use this expression negatively. When students in a classroom are smiling and not being serious, we say “shiroi ha wo miseruna.” That means “Stop smiling and be serious.”

 

6. Shira wo kiru (Cut the white)

This expression sounds very strange when we translate it literally. It actually means “pretend to know nothing about.” Imagine a misbehaving child. When he accidentally broke an expensive glass, he knows that his mom would be very angry. When his mother asks him about the broken glass, he would say, “I have no idea why it’s broken. It wasn’t me,” in other words “shira wo kiru.” This expression can be very useful when you are dealing with someone dishonest. If you know for sure that your boyfriend or girlfriend was flirting with someone else and he/she keep denying it when you ask, you can say “shira wo kiruna!” That means “don’t play innocent.”

 

7. Hakushi ni modosu (Return to a white paper)

You might be able to see a metaphor of this expression. It means “go back to a clean slate” in English. In fact, recently the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, used this expression in a speech concerning the reconstruction of the new National stadium. He said, “Konkai no keikaku wo hakushi ni modosu.” That means “he will reconsider the (reconstruction) plan from the starting point.” What he wants to say is, since the plan wasn’t very satisfying, he will cancel it and come up with a new one. This expression is very useful in business. In Japanese language, it’s actually considered impolite to say “no.” If you want to refuse a business proposition, you can politely answer using this expression. You can say, “konkai no ken wa hakushi ni modoshite itadakemasen desyouka.” It means you are no longer interesting in pursuing this proposition, in a very polite way.

 

8. Me wo shiro kuro saseru (My eyes go black and white)

This is a very strange expression if you literally translate it in English. It actually describes a state of surprise and panic. When you are surprised or in panic, your eyes would open up widely and your pupils would start to move around to watch out for a danger. Because most Japanese people have black eyes, we call this state “our eyes go black and white.” This expression wouldn’t be the same if there are people with blue or green eyes in Japan. In everyday life, you can simply use this expression to describe someone who is in a state of surprise or panic. If your friend has lost an important paper that she needs on the next day, you can describe her as “me wo shiro kuro sasete sagashiteiru.” That means she is in a state of panic as she is looking for that paper.

 

9. Shirakeru (Become whiter)

This expression might be very hard to understand for Western people, because there is no equivalent expression in English. It describes a state when everyone is supposed to be having fun, yet no one is. When someone tells a joke, for example, but no one is laughing because it wasn’t very funny. In English, you would say, “his joke isn’t funny.” In Japanese, on the other hand, we say “shirakeru,” meaning that a room is all quiet. It can also use it to describe a really bad party. This is a very popular expression that we use all the time. Many Japanese are worried that when they talk in front of a crowd, no one would enjoy listening to what they say. They often say, “watashi ga hanasu to, ba ga shirakeru.” That means, “when I talk, the room becomes all quiet and bored.” I believe that this expression says something about the Japanese society. People are very sensitive to what others would think in Japan. When you see a Japanese person who seems very shy, he/she might be worrying that you won’t enjoy it when they talk. If you want to get closer to a shy person, you can simple show that you are having fun by reacting with a big smile.

 

10. Iro no shiroi nowa shichinan wo kakusu (White skin hides many flaws)

This last expression is a Japanese proverb which means that people (especially women) with white skin looks better even if they don’t have pretty features or good personality. You might have noticed that many Japanese women are obsessed of keeping their skin as white as possible. There are many whitening cosmetic products in stores. We also try very hard to avoid getting tan in summer. Some women even take a parasol when they walk outside on the street. It’s because we believe that there are many advantages of keeping our skin white, just as this proverb says. It might be hard to understand for Western people who, on the contrary, believe that tanned skin looks better than pale one. Beauty is culturally relative.

 

Conclusion

These are 10 expressions using the work “Shiro.” I hope you understand how a simple concept of “white” is used in Japanese and how to use those expressions in everyday life. I also hope that you understand the Japanese culture a bit better now.

 

10 “Shiro” useful expressions for any situations

1. Shiro kuro tsukeru (Draw the distinction between white and black)
2. Atamano naka ga shiroku naru (It becomes white inside my head)
3. Iki ga shiroi (my breath is white)
4. Shiroi me de miru (Watch someone with white eyes)
5. Shiroi ha wo miseru (Show my white teeth)
6. Shira wo kiru (Cut the white)
7. Hakushi ni modosu (Return to a white paper)
8. Me wo shiro kuro saseru (My eyes go black and white)
9. Shirakeru (Become whiter)
10. Iro no shiroi nowa shichinan wo kakusu (White skin hides many flaws)