I found the set phrase "四里四方{しりしほう}" used on several sites (e.g. here with a pun) but I can't find it in wwwjdic. Is it somehow a superlative of 四方{しほう}, something like "(from) all over (the world) ?"

1 Answer 1


As I answered in other user’s question (What is the meaning of 幾里? in 幾里の路を共に往かむ), 里 is a unit of distance, and 1里 is equal to 4 kilometers (2.5 miles).

四方 means four directions of north, south, east and west. So 四里四方 literally means 16 square kilometer (10 square miles).

Actually 四里四方 means “a wide area.” Though old way of saying, when someone says 四里四方に近寄るな to his prodigal son, it means “Don’t linger around my neighborhood.” “昔、この辺り四里四方は私の家の土地でした” means “the vast area around here used to be owned by my family longtime ago.”

By the same token, we have a phrase, 五里霧中(ごりむちゅう), of which literal translation is “amidst of deep fog spreading five lis.” It means you are “groping around unclear terrain without any bright prospect” just like thrown into a boundless thick fog.

  • 1里 is 2.5 km? That's as bad as miles! Mar 3, 2016 at 0:47
  • Hi! Janus Bahs Jacquet. 1里 is 4 km. I saw your name in EL&U not a few times. Did you join Japanese site? I joined this site last December. Mar 3, 2016 at 5:39

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