230 - Messed Up Mistakes & Failures

A few lessons ago, I talked a lot about benefiting from something, not benefiting from something, and failing to do something:

[NDL #225] - Kanji Closeup: 得
[NDL #226] - Another Kanji Closeup: 得 → 損
[NDL #227] - Failing to Make Connections

But I didn't talk about the most common word for "failure:"

failure; mistake; blunder

失敗 is a bit more versatile than just "failure" or "mistake," though.

Let's look at how...

Making a Mistake

くるま で きた の しっぱい だった ね。
Coming here by car was a mistake, wasn't it? // We shouldn't have driven, huh?
Literally: "car + で + came + の + mistake + was + ね."
Note: For example, if you drove somewhere and then couldn't find parking. If this sentence were being said in Tokyo, the nuance is, "We should have come by train."

じんせい で いちばん の しっぱい は、 だいがく に いった こと だ。
The biggest mistake of my life was going to college.
Literally: "life + で + number one + の + mistake + は, + university + に + went + thing + だ."
Note: For example, if someone thinks that they just wasted time and money getting a college degree they never wanted or used, then they could say this.

I know I feel a little ambivalent about my own college education.

Pros: Having a bachelor's degree allowed me to get a work visa in Japan back in 2013. Yay!
Cons: I'm still paying student loans... T_T

Messing Up

We can also use 失敗 to mean "mess up" or "make a mistake."

In this case, we'll add the verb する to the end of it.

しっぱい しても いい から やって。
It's OK if you mess it up, so just do it.
Literally: "mistake + even if (you) do + good + because + do."
Note: For example, I might say this to Rei if I'm trying to convince her to cut my hair for me.

チャーハン しっぱい した。
My fried rice didn't turn out. // I messed up the fried rice.
Literally: "fried rice + failure + did."

By the way, fried rice is delicious.

It's quite common to see the word チャーハン written in katakana, but it's not too rare to see the kanji, either:

fried rice

I like the kanji, because it's so easy to understand.

means something like "cook; stir-fry." You might see it used in this word:

炒める(いためる // to stir fry; to saute

The other kanji is just "rice:"

(cooked) rice; meal

Every time I hear the word ご飯, I think of a line at the end of the first episode ofToby in Tokyo. If you've seen it, you'll know what I'm talking about.

💀 Kanji Note! 💀

Be careful not to mix up these two kanji:


The first one is the word used for cooking rice. You'll see it in words like:

炊飯器(すいはんき // rice cooker
炊く(たく // to cook [rice]
自炊(じすい // cooking for oneself

The second one is what we just saw above.

Once you build up your kanji recognition skills, you'll probably notice which one is which simply by the kanji and kana that are surrounding them.

Uh, where was I?


Oh yeah, 失敗 can also have the serious, heavy meaning of "failure," much like how we use it in English.

アベノミクス は しっぱい に おわった。
Abenomics ended in failure.
Literally: "Abenomics + は + failure + に + ended."
Note: Abenomics refers to an economic policy established by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2012 (Wikipedia).

Proverb City

Last but not least, a proverb. In my opinion, a good one:

しっぱい は せいこう の もと。
Failure is the root of success.
Literally: "failure + は + success + の + origin / source."

Speaking of 成功, let's look at that word in the next lesson!

Complete and Continue