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Lair in Chinese / Japanese...

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How can you catch tiger cubs without entering the lair of the tiger?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained
bú rù hǔ xué yān dé hǔ zǐ
How can you catch tiger cubs without entering the lair of the tiger? Scroll

While perhaps no longer politically correct, this Chinese proverb is a reminder that you must take risks if you want reward.

This is similar to the English proverb, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained".

The literal word order of the Chinese is, "If (you) don't enter the tiger's lair/cave, how can (you) get/obtain tiger cubs?".

How can you catch tiger cubs without entering the lair of the tiger?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained
koketsu ni haira zun ba tora ko o e zu
How can you catch tiger cubs without entering the lair of the tiger? Scroll

This is the Japanese version of an ancient Chinese proverb. This is a reminder that you must take risks if you want reward.

This is similar to the English proverb, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained".


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

A sly rabbit has three openings to its den

-or- The crafty rabbit has three different entrances to its lair
jiǎo tù sān kū
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den Scroll

This speaks to the cunning character of a sly rabbit. Such a rabbit will not have just one hole but rather a few entrances and exits from his liar.

About 2,250 years ago a very rich man told his assistant to go and buy something wonderful that he did not yet posses. He was a man that already had everything, so the assistant went to a local village that owed a great deal of money to the rich man. The assistant told the village elders that all debts were forgiven. All the villagers rejoiced and praised the rich man's name. The assistant returned to the rich man and told him he had purchased "benevolence" for him. The rich man was mildly amused but perhaps a bit confused by the action.

Some time later, the rich man fell from the favor of the Emperor, and was wiped out without a penny to his name. One day he was walking aimlessly and stumbled into the village in which the debts had been forgiven. The villagers recognized the man and welcomed him with open arms, clothed, fed, and gave him a place to live.

Without trying, the man had become like the sly and cunning rabbit. When his exit was blocked, he had another hole to emerge from - and was reborn. This story and idiom comes from a book titled "The Amendment" - it's unclear whether this man actually existed or not. But the book did propel this idiom into common use in China.

Still today this idiom about the rabbit is used in China when suggesting "backup plans" alternate methods, and anyone with a good escape plan.


The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
How can you catch tiger cubs without entering the lair of the tiger?不入虎穴焉得虎子bú rù hǔ xué yān dé hǔ zǐ
bu2 ru4 hu3 xue2 yan1 de2 hu3 zi3
bu ru hu xue yan de hu zi
buruhuxueyandehuzi
pu ju hu hsüeh yen te hu tzu
pujuhuhsüehyentehutzu
How can you catch tiger cubs without entering the lair of the tiger?虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ずkoketsu ni haira zun ba tora ko o e zu
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den狡兔三窟jiǎo tù sān kū
jiao3 tu4 san1 ku1
jiao tu san ku
jiaotusanku
chiao t`u san k`u
chiaotusanku
chiao tu san ku



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A sly rabbit has three openings to its den Scroll
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den Scroll
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den Scroll
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den Scroll


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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

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A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.


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Some people may refer to this entry as Lair Kanji, Lair Characters, Lair in Mandarin Chinese, Lair Characters, Lair in Chinese Writing, Lair in Japanese Writing, Lair in Asian Writing, Lair Ideograms, Chinese Lair symbols, Lair Hieroglyphics, Lair Glyphs, Lair in Chinese Letters, Lair Hanzi, Lair in Japanese Kanji, Lair Pictograms, Lair in the Chinese Written-Language, or Lair in the Japanese Written-Language.

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