I once heard someone say that the problem with learning by immersion is misapplication. It's easy to pick up a new word, but a lot of times, since you've only noticed the word in one context, you haven't really understood the nuance of it. I learned the phrase 「はっきり言って」 by hearing it repeatedly from other English teachers, and was told that it meant "speak clearly." But when I tried to use it as "Speak up" or "Don't garble your words," I found out that it actually means more like "Say what you mean; Express yourself plainly."
Brett learned 衣替え as "change of clothing," which is technically accurate, but if you were to ask someone to bring a 衣替え、in case we decide to go swimming or stay the night, they'd be pretty confused.
So, I had today's trivia applied to me when I asked someone to pass me a piece of pizza, despite the fact that there was another plate of pizza right next to me. The out-of-reach pizza, however, was from Costco in Fukuoka, while the pizza at my side looked like this.
ii toko dori
ii toko dori
I got all kinds of confused at first, because I thought they said itoko-douri, which translates as "cousin road." And that's just weird. But the way it actually breaks down is "Good place picker-upper."
This happened last year, and I've spent all of my time, until today, believing that the full purpose of いいとこどり was to refer to those who swipe the best bits, in a very concrete, food related way. Not so.
いいとこどり is more of a general philosophical outlook, describing someone who looks for the good in things and ignores the bad. An optimist. A silver-lining seeker.
Check out this book about how to live an いいとこどり life (Step 1: Get a hybrid car).
So in the spirit of this bit of trivia, I choose not to reflect on the fact that I haven't really understood this phrase and have probably been using it awkwardly for a long time, but I'll focus on the fact that today's 表現 and trivia are perfect complements. Anyone who says "渡る世間に鬼はない" is definetly いいとこどりしている.
Feel free to use it in the food sense as well, but don't be surprised if the Japanese people you use it with are impressed at your ability to craft high concept jokes.
Also, enjoy Colin, who comments on The Yoji sometimes and has a funny song related to optimism, as well as this one anthemic song about his time in Japan: tell me you don't hear an desperate attempt at いいとこどり reasoning in the chorus.