giri to fundoshi kakasarenu
Never fail to do your duty or wear your fundoshi
The 大辞泉 (daijisen) Japanese-Japanese dictionary has this definition:
Just as a man must always fasten his fundoshi, so should you never fail in your social obligations.
And the Kodansha J-E translates it as: “Social obligation and underpants–two things you can’t do without”
‘Twonce in a while, you come across an expression that captivates the imagination. This morning when discussing what to get for my mother for Mother’s Day, Yumi said this to me. Upon seeing the glee in my eye and my hand reach for the dictionary, she immediately regretted opening her mouth.
Let’s break this gem down!
義理 giri – duty; obligation
Giri is most often used when describing social obligations–things one ought to do to stay in good standing with society. Usually it carries a somewhat negative connotation for the one with the giri.
“I have to buy my boss a souvenir (but I don’t want to).” This is giri.
“I have to go to his party, because he went to mine.” This is giri.
“I have to buy a big screen TV and eat pizza all day Sunday for the big game.” This isn’t technically giri.
義理チョコ giri choko is a great word for Valentine’s Day. Bosses get a lot of girichoko, I imagine.
と to – and
褌 fundoshi – a fundoshi; a loincloth; a piece of cloth wrapped around a guy’s waist
Fundoshi is, well, go here and see for yourself.
欠かされぬ kakasarenu – not to be lacked
This is the negative of 欠かす kakasu – to fail; to miss (doing something).
ぬ is a negative ender often used in proverbs or moral statements. I’m not sure why it takes a passive form here. Grammar isn’t my strong point, but my guess is it is for poetic purposes–to give it more of an authoritative feel.