How to use 筋 ( = すじ) = suji



= Boku, piano no suji  aru desho♪

= Don’t you think I have a natural talent for playing the piano?

無断転載禁止(All rights reserved)

Hi everyone! I am Cookie.

We received a request from one of my dear Patrons to make a lesson on because there are many different ways to use and it seems to be confusing.


= Jaa, ganbatte setsumei shimasune.

= OK, I’ll do my best to explain the usage.

Here we go! 


How to read the kanji

As I’m sure you all remember, there are 2 ways to read kanji, a “kun” reading and an “on” reading. 

訓読み = くんよみ = kunyomi = kun-reading 

すじ  ( = suji)

音読み = おんよみ = onyomi = on-reading 

きん ( = kin)

= きん = kin 

1) Talking about construction ― like constructing buildings. 

* 鉄筋  = tekkin = a reinforcing bar / rebar

Ex. 鉄筋コンクリート = tekkin konkuriito = reinforced concrete

2) muscles

= きん = kin: muscles. 

* 筋肉 = kinniku= muscle 

Ex. 筋肉がつく = kinniku ga tsuku = to get muscle 

Ex. 筋肉をつける = kinniku wo tsukeru = to build muscle 

Ex. 筋肉モリモリ = kinniku morimori = (conversational) muscular
 (Note: You also just say むきむき/ムキムキ = mukimuki) 💪


* 筋力 = kinryoku = muscle strength

Ex. 筋力トレーニング = kinryoku toreeningu = muscle training/weight training

We often shorten the word like this:

筋トレ = kintore 

Ex. 筋トレ(を) する = kintore (wo) suru = to do muscle/weight training 

* 大胸筋 = daikyoukin = greater pectorals muscle 

* 二頭筋 = nitoukin = biceps

* 表情筋 = hyoujoukin = mimetic muscle

* 背筋 = haikin = the muscles along the spine

* 腹筋 = fukkin = abdominal muscle

Ex. 腹筋運動をする = fukkinn undou wo suru = to do sit-ups


: すじ = suij 

1) tendon, sinew, line (body parts)

Ex. 足の筋を痛めた。

= Ashi no suji wo itameta.

= I sprained my leg.

* 首筋 = kubisuji = the back of the neck, nape

Ex. 首筋が凝っている。

= Kubisuji ga kotte iru.

= to have a stiff neck.

* 背筋 = sesuji = spine/back

(Note:  Be careful! If you read it 背筋 = はいきん = haikin, it changes the meaning. 背筋 = はいきん = haikin = muscles along the spine) 

Ex. 背筋を伸ばす = sesuji wo nobasu = to stretch one’s back

Ex. 背筋をまっすぐ伸ばして座る。

= Sesuji wo massugu nobashite suwaru.

= sitting with one’s back straight

Ex. ずっと運転をしていたから少し背筋を伸ばしたい。

= Zutto unten wo shite itakara sukoshi sesuji wo nobashitai.

= I have been driving for a long time, so I want to stretch my back a little.


* 背筋が凍る = sesuji ga kooru / 背筋が寒くなる = sesuji ga samuku naru 

= spine-chilling/a chill runs down one’s spine (because of fear or anticipation)/ to be appalled / used to refer to something that makes you cringe

Ex. その事故の話を聞いただけで背筋が凍る。

= Sono jiko no hanashi wo kiita dake de sesuji ga kooru.

= By just hearing about the accident/makes a chill run down my spine (makes me cringe) . 

* 鼻筋 = hanasuji = bridge of the nose

Ex. 鼻筋が通っている (positive meaning) 

= Hanasuji ga tooteiru

= to have a shapely nose

Talking about meat

* すじ肉 / スジ肉 = sujiniku  = sinewy meat

* 牛すじ / 牛スジ = gyuusuji = beef tendon

Note: You usually write in hiragana or katakana.

Ex. この肉はすじが多い

= Kono niku wa suji ga ooi

= This meat is stringy/chewy.

2) vein(s)

* 青筋 = aosuji = blue veins

Ex. 青筋を立てる 

= aosuji wo tateru

= (literal meaning) blue veins stand

= to get really angry 

Ex. 彼は青筋を立てて怒った。

= Kare wa aosuji wo tatete okotta.

= He was so angry that you could see the veins standing out on his temples. / He turned purple from anger.

* 血筋 =  chisuji = bloodline/ ancestry, lineage 

Ex. 父親同様、彼は頭がいい。きっと血筋なのだろう。

= Chichioya douyou, kare wa atama ga ii. Kitto chisuji nano darou. 

= He is smart just like his father. It must run in the family. 

3) story/plot line

There used to be a TV show called “スジナシ ( = sujinashi)” which is from  * 筋なし = sujinashi = “without script”→an improvised play

* 粗筋/あらすじ = arasuji = summary 

* 筋書き =  sujigaki = story line, plot 

Ex. 物事は筋書き通りには進まない

= Monogoto wa sujigakidoori niwa susumanai.

= Things aren’t going according to plan. 

* 大筋 = oosuji = outline

大筋で = oosujide = broadly, basically, in principal 

Ex. A国とB国は大筋で協力することに合意した。

= A-koku to B-koku wa oosuji de kyouryoku suru koto ni goui shita.

= The country A and the country B  agreed to cooperate each other in principal. 

4) line(s)/streak(s)

Ex. 光の筋

= hikari no suji

= a streak of light

Ex. 一筋の光

= hitosuji no hikari

= a ray of light

Ex. 一筋の希望の光が見えてきた。

= hitosuji no kibou ga mietekita.

= I’ve started to see a ray of hope.

Ex. 一筋の涙

= hitosuji no namida

= a trickle of tears

Ex. 一筋の道

= hitosuji no michi

= a straight road

* Idiomatic expressions:

(something) + 一筋 = ひとすじ = hitosuji = devote oneself to (something)

Ex. 今まで、仕事一筋の人生だったが、これからはいろいろなことを楽しみたい。

= Imamade, shigoto hitosuji no jinsei datta ga, kore kara wa iroirona koto wo tanoshimitai.

= I have been living only for my work, but from now on I want to enjoy other things.

Ex. 僕は、彼女一筋だ。

= Boku wa, kanojo hitsosuji da.

= I only love her (my girlfriend). 

* 一筋縄 = hitosujinawa

Ex.  一筋縄ではいかない。

= hitosujinawa de wa ikanai.

= Something that can’t be done easily. /something that is tough/tricky

Note: The literal meaning of 一筋縄 ( = hitosujinawa)  is 一本の縄 = いっぽんのなわ ( = ippon no nawa ) “a piece of rope” which meant “ordinary method” in old days. 

So 一筋縄ではいかない ( = hitosujinawa de wa ikanai) means you can’t deal with some issue by ordinary means.

Ex. 感染防止対策は一筋縄ではいかない。

= Kansenboushi taisaku wa hitosujinawa dewa ikanai.

= Preventing the spread of infection is not easy. 

5) source of information 

Ex. ある筋から聞いた話ですが、… 

= Aru suji kara kiita hanashi desu ga..

= This is something that I heard from…

Ex. 確かな筋からの情報だから信用していい。

= Tashika na suji kara no jouhou dakara shinyou shiteii.

= You can trust the information because it is from someone reliable.

6) reason /logic / proper 

Ex. この件は、まず上司の許可を得るのが筋だ。

= Konoken wa, mazu joushi no kyoka wo eru no ga suji da.

= As for this matter, it would be proper to get the permission from your boss first. 

* 筋が違う/筋違い

= Suji ga chigau. / sujichigai

= unreasonable / illogical / ~ doesn’t make sense / wrong way to do

Ex. 私に決めさせておいて、文句を言うのは筋が違う。/ 筋違いだ。

= Watashi ni kimesasete oite, monku wo iu no wa suji ga chigau. / Suji chigai da.

= It is unreasonable for you to complain after making me make a decision.

* 筋が立つ = suij ga tatsu / 筋が通っている = suji ga tootteiru 

 = to be consistent / to make sense / to stand to reason 

*筋が通っている = sujiga tootte iru = consistent, reasonable, logical

Ex. もっと筋の通った説明をしてほしい。

= Motto suji no toota setsumei wo shite hoshii.

= I want a more logical explanation.

(When you modify a noun, you can use eother ( = ga) or ( = no)  筋( = suji) ( = ga) or ( = no)  + 通った  (= toota) + noun ) 

→Related lesson: How to modify a noun. 

The same meaning but it expresses more consistence.

→* 一本筋が通っている

= Ippon suji ga tootte iru 

= to have a consistent or strong belief and be dedicated to doing something

* 筋を通す= suji wo toosu = (transitive verb) to proceed in a logical manner 

Ex. 会社に筋を通して辞めたい。

= Kaisha ni suji wo tooshite yametai.

= I would like to quit my job.

* 筋が通らない = suji ga tooranai = illogical, inconsistent, unreasonable 

Ex. 上司の言うことは全く筋が通っていない。

= Joushi no iu koto wa mattaku suji ga tootte inai.

= What my boss says doesn’t make any sense. 

* 筋道を立てる = sujimichi wo tateru = to think logically

Ex. もっと筋道を立てて話してくれないとよく言っていることがわからないよ。

= Motto sujimichi wo tatete hanashite kurenai to yoku itte iru koto ga wakaranai yo.

= Talk more logically or I won’t be able to understand you are saying. 

* 筋合い = sujiai = right / reason

Ex. 彼にそんなことを言われる筋合いはない。

= Kare ni sonna koto wo iwareru sujiai wa nai.

= He has no right to say that to me.

7)  streets (in some cities)

In some cities in Japan, such as Osaka, Kobe, Okayama, the streets are laid out in a grid pattern.  

You call the streets running from north to south → = すじ = suji 

Ex. 御堂筋 = みどうすじ = Midousuji (The name of a street in Osaka)

The streets that run from east to west are called: 

通り = とおり = toori 

Ex. 本町通り = ほんまちどおり = Honmachidoori (The name of a street in Osaka).

* 筋向かい = sujimukai = diagonally opposite

* 一本筋 = ipponsuji = a straight street 

* 道筋 = michisuji = 1) road route/pass 2) means to achieve something

Ex. 道筋を示す = michisuji wo shimesu = to show the way

8) topics

* 本筋 = ほんすじ = honsuji = main topic / main line  

Ex. 本筋に入る = honsuji ni hairu = to move onto/get into the main topic

Ex. 本筋からそれる/外れる = honsuji kara soreru /hazureru

= to stray from the main topic

9) aptitude/talent

* 筋がある = suji ga aru = to have potential to excel・having an aptitude for something,

* 筋がいい = suji ga ii = to have a good aptitude for something

Ex. Cookie 🐶はピアノの筋がいい

= Cookie wa piano no suji ga ii.

= Cookie 🐶 has a natural talent for playing the piano./ Cookie has the potential to play the piano well.

10) Others: 

* 筋金入り = sujigane iri = staunch / strong as steel / hard-core / real /dyed-in-the-wool

(Note: The original meaning of 筋金 = sujigane is “a metal reinforcement”) 

Ex. 僕の彼女は、筋金入りの野球好きだ。

= Boku no kanojo wa, sujiganeiri no yakyuuzuki da.

= My girlfriend is a hard-core baseball lover.


マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

思った以上に筋 (きん/すじ) の使い方がありました。

= Omottaijou ni (kin/suji) no tsukaikata ga arimashita.

= Wow! There are more usages of 筋 (kin/suji) than I expected!


= Demo, minna wa nihongo no suji ga ii kara sugu shuutoku dekimasu ne.

= But you all have a natural talent for learning Japanese so I’m sure you will learn them quickly, right? 


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