Japanese Idiom: To Crack a Star

Photo by Skiwalker on Flickr

Photo by Skiwalker on Flickr

This is one of the more unusual idioms that I’ve found and we don’t really have a comparable English one. The idiom is around cracking a star and the meaning is not what you think.

hoshi ga wareru – 星が割れる (ほしがわれる)

Meaning: a star cracks

In the West a star is often thought of as a positive label. For example you’ll talk about a big movie star or that person is a real star. The use of the idiom “a star cracks” in Japanese is a little different. In this example it’s actually talking about a criminal.

Here’s an example sentence from the book 2001 Japanese and English Idioms:

Sengetsu no ginko goto no hishi ga waremashita.


The police found out who the culprit was (cracked the star) in last month’s bank robbery.

In this usage it’s almost similar to the English idiom of the police “cracked the case”. However, I also see it used in the idiom hoshi o ageru which means to catch a star or to catch a criminal. So maybe the usage of “star” is not always positive in Japanese?

I’d like to hear more about these idioms if you have any further insights :)

2 Responses to “Japanese Idiom: To Crack a Star”

  1. Ashley  on April 10th, 2013

    I’m a huge fan of quotes and idioms, one of my favorites is “Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
    Also the advices from the creed of the samurai, Bushido, are great. Also the little riddles masters ask their students in order to see if they made progress. “Is the water the wave or the wave the water?” I think they are called Koan, but please correct me if I’m wrong.
    At the moment I’m looking for hotels in Japan and browse sites like http://www.trivago.ca .However, do you have any recommendations?

  2. Travis  on April 10th, 2013

    Hello Ashley. So glad you like the idioms. There’s lots more to come :) I used the site http://www.agoda.com/ when I was looking for places in Tokyo. It worked well. Not sure how extensive the listing are outside the major centres, but it’s a good starting point.

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