Juubako no Sumi o [Yooji de] Tsutsuku

[Japanese Idioms by Flashcards]


to pick at the corners of a food-serving box [with a toothpick]

(to be obsessively oriented toward inconsequential details, to dwell on minutiae, to split hairs)

Juubako is a box-shaped container for serving food. After the meal, one or two small pieces of food may remain stuck in the corners. Only an obsessive person would try to remove the left-over particles with a toothpick.

Sample text:
(Style: spoken/formal)

A: Tashiro-san no hanashi wa zenzen susumanai n desu yo ne. Juubako no sumi o tsutsuku yoona doo demo ii youna hanashi bakari de, juudaina koto wa minna atomawashi. Kore ja itsu ni nattara saishuu kettei made motte ikeru mono yara…
B: Soo na n desu ka. Sore wa taihen desu ne.

A: 田代さんとの話はぜんぜん進まないんですよね。重箱の隅をつつくようなどうでもいいような話ばかりで、重大なことはみんなあとまわし。これじゃいつになったら最終決定までもっていけるものやら。
B: そうなんですか。それは大変ですね。

A: Talking with Mr. Tashiro never goes anywhere. He only dwells on minutiae, and important issues are left behind. I have no idea when the final decision will be made.
B: Is that so? Too bad.

Japanese Idioms


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