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How to say "open Pandora's box" in Japanese?

Ex.:

When I asked Jane about her problems, I didn't know I had opened Pandora's box.

What kind of Pandora's box do we open if we decide not arrest people who have committed a crime?

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  • You might also try looking in dictionaries for different expressions that convey similar sentiments: "to open a can of worms", "to let the genie out of the bottle". Apr 25, 2014 at 4:44

2 Answers 2

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パンドラの箱を開ける

Sorry if you expected something cooler. You can say this in Japanese and be understood, however the norm might be to phrase it in a more direct way.

http://eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=Pandora%27s+box&ref=sa

If you want a more Japanese equivalent, this entry from the link above has a few alternatives:

open a Pandora's box

パンドラの箱を開ける、厄介な問題を引き起こす、災いを呼ぶ、収拾のつかない事態を引き起こす

It's possible that there are other Japanese idioms that capture this same meaning that I don't know about. You'll also be totally fine avoiding the idiomatic use and just saying it directly (so for example talk about how you made Jane upset or whatever problem happened as a result of asking about her problems).

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  • Indeed, that's a little bit more literal than I expected :D Thanks though! Feb 28, 2013 at 0:37
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    good answer, but that's totally not what was asked lolz. it's an idiom, no one cares what the literal meaning is. it's the idiomatic meaning which needs translation, something along the lines, I guess, of "initiating something which we will imminently regret".
    – taylor
    Feb 28, 2013 at 1:46
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    The idiom is used as-is the same way in Japanese so I figured that would be enough to be understood. If your problem is with a lack of an explanation then I'll go ahead and add one (lolz)
    – ssb
    Feb 28, 2013 at 2:01
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In case anyone (1 yr later) should reference this, one good idiomatic expression is "yabuhebi", not quite Pandora's box, but a dangerous snake that lies in the grass and should not be stirred up -- because once stirred it will not ignore you. This expression is used very commonly in Japanese, e.g. "それを言い出したらやぶへびだよ。やめたほうがいい。”

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    Is that really equivalent, though? The idea is that Pandora's Box is something that you'd want to open, and having made a naive choice, the consequences are dire and eternal. "Yabuhebi" strikes me more like "let sleeping dogs lie" or "waking a sleeping dragon," etc...
    – Khakionion
    Apr 25, 2014 at 3:28
  • Agree, they are not exactly the same.
    – user5222
    Apr 25, 2014 at 19:43

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