In my last post, I talked about the Japanese phrase 一難去ってまた一難 (ichinan satte mata ichinan / “It’s just one problem after another”), and it got me thinking about other Japanese phrases that express this idea of “one after another.”
So, uh, yeah… that’s what I’m writing about in this article.
In particular, I want to talk about the following phrase:
tsugi kara tsugi e to
[It’s just] one (thing) after another.
This phrase is probably more common than 一難去ってまた一難. Although, to be fair, I don’t hear it very often.
Before reading on about 次から次へと, you might want to challenge yourself by reading this article in Japanese, which is about how to say 次から次へと in English.
Actually, I wrote that article, as I have another site called 英語 Boost!, which is for Japanese people trying to learn English.
The first time I ever heard it was on Naruto Shippuden. For those that don’t know what Naruto is, here’s a clip courtesy of Crunchyroll:
I think one of the characters was complaining that it was “Just one nuisance after another.” Or, something like that. I don’t really remember. But yeah, it’s a pretty common phrase. In fact, I can prove that it’s a common phrase by just how many examples it appears in on Weblio’s example sentence database: 95!
Speaking of Weblio’s example sentence database, it’s a super useful tool for looking natural phrasing of Japanese terms. I think it’s much better than using Jisho.org’s example sentences. With this example, Weblio’s database has 95 examples, but Jisho.org only has 16:
Anyways, let’s look at some of those examples.
sono koto wa tsugi kara tsugi e to kossori iitsutaerareta.
It was whispered from mouth to mouth. – 研究社 新和英中辞典
kesa wa tsugi kara tsugi e to kyaku ga atta.
This morning we have had one visitor after another. – 研究社 新和英中辞典
tsugi kara tsugi e to kimyou na jiken ga mochiagatta.
A series of strange incidents took place in quick [rapid] succession. – 研究社 新和英中辞典
I was talking to Rei about this phrase, and I wasn’t entirely clear on why Japanese people add と (to) to the end of this phrase. I mean, a literal translation is…
She then pointed it out that it’s probably the same と that gets tacked onto Japanese onomatopoeia, which is a much more complicated topic for another day (there’s a good article about it on Tofugu). For example:
anmari murei ni atsukawareta no de, kachin to kita.
They were treating me so rudely that I suddenly just lost it. – Tanaka Corpus
Another fun way to look up natural usage of Japanese words is to use the search function on the Japanese blogging site Ameba. A quick search of 次から次へと brings up 26,000+ examples!
Then, if you’re it’s not too much trouble for you to skim through some Japanese, you can often find a very clean, natural use of the phrase. For example:
Jounetsuteki de atatakaku, sono kankaku ga tsugi kara tsugi e to afuretekuru.
A warm sense of passion swells up inside of me again and again.
Okay, that’s probably a bad translation, but that blog post is talking about “feeling your soul” ( 魂の体感 / tamashii no taikan / literally: “[physically] feeling your soul”) so, uh, 勘弁してくれよ (kanben shite kure yo / “Give me a break.”)
Cool, Slightly Different Usage
Since I have that picture of the wine glasses for this post, I was asking my girlfriend if you can say something like:
Kare wa tsugi kara tsugi e to wain nondeiru ne.
He’s drinking one glass of wine after another.
She said that it’s probably okay to say, but also that’s she’s never heard someone say that. To me, that means that, no, people don’t say it that way. Then she told me a similar way to say that, which she has heard before:
Kare wa tsugi kara tsugi ni wain wo aketeru ne.
He’s downing one glass of wine after another.
Literally, this is something like, “He’s emptying (空けている / aketeiru / shortened to 空けてる / aketeru) one [glass of] wine after another.” I thought it was kind of a cool phrase.
She said it would also be okay to use the kanji 開ける, but in this case the sense is that he’s opening one bottle of wine after another. Which is, in a sense, the same thing.
Okay, I think I’m going to stop here. I’ve noticed that when I start writing about Japanese, I find myself wanting to bring up different topics 次から次へと.
Oh yeah, and if anyone want to try writing an example sentence in the comments, I’ll have a Japanese person check/correct it for you.