四字熟語データバンク has a cool feature that I just noticed: a list of the Yo-ji definitions that were accessed most often during the previous month. We've only hit one to our credit, 疑心暗鬼, but there are a few that struck me as pretty cool, so I figured we'd take care of a couple more.
獅子奮迅 functions as a noun. It means, literally, the lion's mad dash, but when you attach it to other nouns, using の, it works like an adjective, turning words like 働き, 勢い, or 挑戦 it makes those words more furious! I've even managed to find examples like 獅子奮迅の検索: furiously looking something up. Let's take a look at the Japanese definition to make sure we get the nuances right.
1. As ferocious as a lion.
2. Like mad.
3. Like crazy.
One of the reasons that I thought that this was a good one was because of the kanji: 獅子. I had never come across kanji for lion before, as most of my students would just say ライオン. But the thing that struck me most about those kanji was the alternate definition: left-handed guardian dog at a Shinto shrine.
I'd heard the word 狛犬 before, and had been told that THAT's what the guardian dogs were called. Maybe they were right-handed ones?
Bonus Shinto Trivia:
The 獅子 that you find at some Japanese 神社 are said to be a combination of the Chinese and Korean statues that serve the same purpose in their respective countries, and are thought to have made the crossover during the 7th and 8th centuries, at the same time as Buddhism was being introduced.... even though they're more often associated with Shintoism. They sometimes make appearances at お寺, but 仁王 are the more common guardians there. If you know or can find out any more about them, I'd love to hear it.
Both the 獅子 and the 仁王 are often posed in pairs, one with an open mouth and one with a closed mouth. To learn more about this, lets make Brett do research!
Breditt (Edit by Brett): The possible answers to that question are actually listed on the page you linked for 仁王. Since their explanation is concise despite its length, I'm going to go ahead and copy-paste it over here.
"Each is named after a particular cosmic sound. The open-mouthed figure is called "Agyo," who is uttering the sound "ah," meaning birth. His closed-mouth partner is called "Ungyo," who sounds "un" or "om," meaning death. Other explanations for the open/closed mouth include:
- Mouth open to scare off demons, closed to shelter/keep in the good spirits
"Ah" is the first sound in the Japanese alphabet, while "N" (pronounced "un" ) is the last, so the combination symbolically represents all possible outcomes (from alpha to omega) in the cosmic dance of existence. "
Thanks to Takada's fierce effort and example, the team's spirits rose and they were able to pull out a come-from-behind win.