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My sensei in class told us about 火の車 that means someone in a difficult financial strait . I was wondering what does it have to do with fire 火 and a car 車?

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To understand what 火車 means I recommend you to read "All she was worth" (/"火車") from Miyuki Miyabe. The whole story develops from the idea of 火車. In chapter 10 Buddhist mythology is explicitly discussed in form of a dialogue. – Horst Seirer Feb 21 '14 at 15:51
up vote 8 down vote accepted

As written on gogen allguide:

Apparently it's from the Buddhist 火車{かしゃ} piece of mythology. The story goes that those who were rotten in their lifetimes would be carried into the flames of hell on a cart driven by a petty demon. This suffering was then later metaphorically applied to financial difficulties.

A possible alternate explanation is that it's connected to another Buddhist idea, 火宅{かたく}, which compares the pains of the world with a house on fire. Supposedly this may have been applied to 車 to represent financial difficulties specifically.

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