第335課: 故 & 由

This short lesson will be about two additional words used in Japanese that meaning "reason." Unlike phrases we've seen in the past, these two words are infrequently used. This means we will need to see to what extent they are used and take each context/condition into consideration. In this light, set phrases will be very important to consider.

故 means "reason". When placed after a nominal phrase or the 連体形, it is just like ~ために. However, it is very rare and seen in 古語的な書き言葉. It's used in situations to show a plus-minus out of the ordinary effect brought on by a negative,  out of the ordinary cause. If you compare it with similar phrases in the spoken language, it far more objective, which at times can make it sound cold.

This, though, is an oversimplification of the emotional state of the sentences that it can appear in. In a broader and perhaps more accurate assessment of 故, it has some contextual connection to regret, lament, sadness, loneliness, etc., but whether the event itself is in the end a good thing or bad thing is decided by the given situation.          


1. 急いでおりました故失礼しました。
    Please excuse me for my rush.

2. 経験不足故の失敗だ。
    It's a failure due to a lack of experience.

3. 若さ故の冒険
     An adventure for youth.

4. {若さ(の)ゆえに・若い(が)ゆえに}、思慮分別を欠き、思わぬ失敗をすることがよくある。
      Due to one's youth, one lacks discretion and often commits unexpected blunders.   

5. 何ゆえ?   (書き言葉)
    For what reason?

6. いつも山峡さんきょうの大きい自然を、自らは知らぬながら相手として孤独に稽古けいこするのが、彼女の習わしであったゆえ、ばちの強くなるは自然である。その孤独は哀愁あいしゅうやぶって、野生の意力を宿していた。幾分下地いくぶんしたじがあるとは言え、複雑な曲を音譜おんぷで独習し、譜を離れてきこなせるまでには、強い意志の努力が重なっているにちがいない。
Since it was her custom to, while knowing not herself, lonely practice with the grand nature of the valley as her partner, the strengthening of her pick was natural. The loneliness stamped through sorrow and housed a wild willpower. Although she had quite a bit of aptitude, it is without a doubt that studying complicated songs alone with only music notes and getting to the point of being able to play well without them involved the piled efforts of her strong will.
From 雪国 by 川端康成.

Grammar Note: In なるは, the function of the 連体形 is to act like a nominalized phrase that would be marked in completely modern Japanese with の or もの. 

7. 咲子のスカートが裾からちろちろ燃えていた。彼女が身動きせぬゆえか、その焔は童話じみた静けさに見えた。だらりと垂れた手の袖も燃えていた。
The hem of Sakiko's skirt wavered and burned; perhaps because she did not move, but the flames appeared to be in a fairy-tale like serenity. Her loosely hanging sleeves were also burning.  
From イタリアの歌 by 川端康成. 

8. 瀧野は暗くなってから、急に秋じみたあしの葉の音のなかで、郷愁きょうしゅうのようなさびしさに沈んでいたところだったゆえ、若い士官と半玉との合唱隊がっしょうたいの姿が、ぐに心にうかび、その歌声も聞こえて、三人のうちただ一人残っていた小蝶こちょうも、とうとう失われるかと、遠い悲しみを覚えたが、気を取り直してみれば、午後の颱風一過たいふういっかには、確かに惨虐ざんぎゃく後味あとあじがあった。
After getting dark, because Takino had been sinking into a nostalgia-like sadness in the sounds of the reed leaves that suddenly become fall-like, the figure of the chorus with the young officer and young geisha immediately came to his mind, and hearing their singing voices, he had thought that Kocho, the single person left out of the three, was to be lost in the end and felt a distant sorrow, but when he tried to rally his spirits, there was certainly a cruel aftertaste to the clear weather after the typhoon in the afternoon.    
From 童謡 by 川端康成. 

9. 「被告ひこくの精神状態には、そのために殺人を犯すほどの病的なものが認められないゆえに、かえって私は、病的犯罪として無罪を宣告された多くの殺人者よりも、この山辺三郎の方が、罪が軽いと思う。刑法とはまた別の目で見れば」
Because no disease could be verified to commit murder because of it in the defendant's mental state, I the more thing that this Yamabe Saburo's crime is light, way more than the many murders that have been sentenced not guilty on insanity. That's if you look at it apart from criminal law". 
From 散りぬるを by 川端康成. 

Grammar Note: ~のほう is one of the only instances where the choice of が is so strong that the particle happens to be appear twice in the same clause.  

10. お前はこの殺人事件を無意味なゆえに美しいと見たがりながら、いろんなしたりげな意味をつけた。
On meaningless reasons, while wanted to view this murder cause as something beautiful, you attached various prideful meanings to it. 
From 散りぬるを by 川端康成.  

Grammar Note: In this sentence, 故 clearly acts as a noun. Even in the other previous sentences, it functions as a noun. At times, it is more modal like other words such as ため. 

由 is a noun that means "reason/cause", "method", or "information" and minor nuances from these definitions. It is used often in very formal sentences. They are typically set expressions and those found in very complex 敬語, of which is aimed for the written language. So, this is not necessarily something that you should venture out and use creatively. 

11. 知る由もない。(Set phrase)
      There is no way of knowing.

12a. ご無事の由、安心しました。
12b. ご無事と聞いて安心しました。(More natural)
        I am relieved to hear that you are alright. 

13. この由をお伝え下さい。(Very old-fashioned)
      Please report this information.

14a. お元気の由何よりです。(Very old-fashioned)
14b. お元気で何よりです。(More natural)
        It's all above anything else that you are well.