Some years ago, I read that Japanese has a word (or idiomatic expression) that means roughly:

The action of voluntary interposing a pause between the
moment you desire something and the moment you start 
to do something to acquire it.

I was never able to find it again. Does it really exist? If yes, what is it? Is it some jargon word (e.g. religion, philosophy)?

As @Sawa suggested, I'll try to better define my request. Imagine this sequence:

  1. I see a beautiful thing in a shop window.
  2. I desire it.
  3. I decide to sit down and wait.
  4. After some minute, I get up and, in case, I go inside the shop to buy the thing.

I am searching for a word that describe the 3rd step of this sequence.

  • It is too abstract, and is difficult to even think of what area to consider. Do you have more solid explanations or examples of what you are mentioning?
    – user458
    Feb 10 '12 at 21:44
  • @Sawa, You are right. The expression the moment in which P is strange and redundant. I removed it.
    – andcoz
    Feb 10 '12 at 23:24
  • 2
    I cannot come up with any words matching your description. 間 (as in Dave M G’s answer) means “pause” without any connotation to desire or acquisition as far as I know, so I doubt that that is the word you are looking for. Feb 11 '12 at 12:34
  • It seems that no-one knows a word that fits my description. :-/ Do I have to think that my memory is defective and that @Dave-M-G word is the best approximation I can find? My last chance is a "bounty".
    – andcoz
    Feb 22 '12 at 13:12
  • Did the text you read say why you would want to wait before taking action? For example, for being polite, or just because you're unsure?
    – ento
    Feb 24 '12 at 3:21

In this case, I would suggest the idea of 「立ち止まる」(tachidomaru - coming to a stand still.)

I've seen this used by people when they are describing someone who is stopping to think about something; not yet acting (other than stopping whatever action they had been doing beforehand.) It conveys a sense of stopping everything to ponder about the next action one is to take. Potentially for the sake of making a life changing decision.

Here is an example of this phrase in one type of context.


I'm taking a risk here in that I'm not 100% sure, but, we're trying to do answers not comments...

Anyway, a long time ago I used to work in animation at a Japanese company. One of my directors stressed to me the importance of 間{ま}, which he described as the pause a character takes just before a motion. Having just a fraction of a second of pause just before doing something, made characters appear much more natural than just bursting into action.

So I think 間{ま} might be the word you're looking for.

Note that the kanji is usually read あいだ when on it's own, and かん when part of a compound (for example, 時間{じかん}). is a rarer reading.

  • That sounds like what he's describing :) Kudos for answering in an answer Feb 11 '12 at 8:03
  • Yes, it is very similar to what I am searching for. It lacks of the concept of voluntary interposing but probably it is the right answer. I'll wait a couple of days to select the accepted answer, just in case ...
    – andcoz
    Feb 11 '12 at 14:10
  • 間 is an interesting choice. Also, have you considered 立ち止まる? (see answer below...)
    – summea
    Feb 25 '12 at 7:22
  • I think it's 間をおいて here. It means a pause, but I don't think it's quite appropriate here because it seems to me to mean 'make a pause for effect' as much as anything else.
    – Bathrobe
    Mar 1 '12 at 3:29

Maybe one of these?

'take one breath'

'take one step behind'

'stop and think'

'think intensively'

Or maybe you meant these proverbs?

'Stay three years on a rock (until it becomes warm enough to be comfortable).'

'Hit a bridge made of rock before crossing it (to make sure it does not collapse).'

'It takes as much as three years for a plum tree or a chestnut tree to blossom, and eight years for a persimmon tree.'


Couldn't this just be

躊躇{ちゅうちょ}する、躊躇{ためら}う to hesitate

? Or would that be too simple? I think it matches the description pretty well... or was this supposed to be some concept very specific to Japan(ese)?

  • Mumble, I do not think it was something like "to hesitate". Why would the author of the book have used a Japanese word to describe the concept instead of using a simple native word? It should be a word that does not have a direct equivalent in English.
    – andcoz
    Feb 27 '12 at 17:44

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