わたる せけん に おに は ない
wataru seken ni oni wa nai
Today, a Japanese expression that would have Thomas Hobbes rolling in his grave. Whereas he assumed that life in the state of nature would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" due to the fundamental selfishness and evil of individual human beings, the Japanese came up with a more positive outlook.
Literal - There are no demons in this world
1. Not everyone is bad at heart.
2. People are basically good natured.
3. There is kindness to be found everywhere.
Of course, not all Japanese people think this way, as might be evidenced by the popular "ime-ji" of foreign countries as places of extreme danger. In fact, there is a long running Japanese TV drama that named itself after an alternate version of this phrase: 渡る世間には鬼ばかり.
And in case you ever get into a conversation about it, let's arm you with one of this phrase's opposites as well:
tera no tonari ni mo oni ga sumu
Demons can live anywhere, even next to the temple.
Don't be surprised if Japanese people are MORE familiar with the revised version that came from the drama... 渡る世間に鬼はない is an old expression, and young folks today are less inclined to assume the best of people.
Let's have some fun with today's example conversation、and revisit some old examples to see some alternate (better) uses.
When that guy talks, doesn't it seem like he's just blowing smoke in our faces? He says a lot of pretty things, but there's never any substance.
Yeah, right? Quite the bullshitter, that SOB. He's the epitome of a sly, old fox. If I were you, I'd be extra-cautious.
But, there's good in everybody, you know? What if he's sincere in what he's saying?
Yeah, well wearing a robe doesn't make him a priest. And on top of that, demons lurk everywhere, even next to temples. What if he's a devil in priest's clothing?
Clay-san: つまり「鬼と和尚は 表裏一体」とよく言われることだ。
After all, they say "Devils and priest are two sides of the same coin..."
What are you talking about? Stop making up your own expressions!