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One of my Japanese classmates was having a hard time understanding the phrase "off the beaten track" and came to me for help. I told her that "beat" could also be used as "to make a path", as in "a well-beaten track". It got through to her eventually and she added that in Japanese they called it "a beast road".

I should have asked her more about this "beast road" but somehow I wrapped it up by simply saying "Ohh!Good to know!"

5

I guess what she wants to say is called 「けもの道{みち}」.

It implies a road through areas such as forests, bushes, hills, etc. only wild animals like boars, bears, mountain goats take.

In a metaphorical sense, 「けもの道」 is used to describe an unusual lifestyle such as a life taking a risk other people would not want to. Ex) being an entrepreneur, not choosing the career path your friends usually go, teachers recommend, or a firm prepares, etc. which is different from the road well-maintained.

"Bushwalking" in Australia or "Death Road" in Bolivia seems dangerous to me, but normally there are tour-guides or fellow travelers with you. Again, probably she wanted to describe the road which it seems no one has ever taken, not well-maintained, savage, and so on.

  • Thank you very much! Now I have a clear picture of the phrase! – Cassandra Sep 22 at 4:45
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As per the search results from JACK's comment, the extremely literal translation of "beaten path" is:

[踏]{ふ}みならされた[道]{みち}

where 踏みならす is "beat" in the sense of making a path, and means road or path. That said, this is not a saying in Japanese the same way it is in English. The metaphor may hold up, but it's not going to be immediately familiar to anyone who hears it.

The word that your friend was talking about was almost certainly [獣道]{けものみち}, which is just [獣]{けもの}+[道]{みち}. The literal construction here is pretty much "beast road", but that perhaps sounds more exciting than the natural English translation of "animal trail" or "game trail". This word just means "trail made by wild animals" in both English and Japanese though; it's pretty much the opposite of the "beaten path".

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