“Getting Tied Up in Knots”
“I'm looking for a match!”
It seems normal to want a match made in heaven, and in Tokyo there is just the right place for that: Tokyo Daijingu, or the Tokyo Grand Shrine. It's one of those Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples that have developed their own reputation for being particularly good at answering prayers for a certain area of human hope: safe childbirth, road safety, success in exams, and so on. The speciality of Tokyo Daijingu is in granting success to those who come to pray for a match, to pray to have their hearts set on fire (if you'll pardon the pun again), to pray to be able to tie the knot.
To determine whether that special reputation can be borne out statistically, or is due to the plain historical factual record of the first modern-era Shinto-style wedding having been held here, would require much embarrassing research − embarrassing to those who visit frequently, and possibly embarrassing to the shrine itself. Whatever the case, the visitors certainly comprise very large numbers of hopeful-looking young women (and some young men), and many of the prayers written on the little wooden prayer plaques (or “votive horse tablets” according to our GG5 − another entry that needs updating and expanding) displayed in the precincts request enmusubi in general, or even name a specific prospective mate.
Rather neatly, the word “enmusubi” matches (if you'll pardon another pun) the English idiom of “tying the knot”, for a musubi is a knot tied in string, or indeed one tied in heaven. The Japanese word “en” in our dictionary has ten separate entries, each with a different kanji. The first of them is the one that is the name of the Japanese currency − and where the “y” of the English word “yen” came from is a whole other story − while the entry that concerns us here comes in at number 7, with such English definitions given as “a turn of fate”, “a relationship”, “a bond”. So it covers the idea, and indeed the actual materialization, of a match made in heaven.
That should tie up the issue (if you'll pardon yet another pun), except that there are young people who may be burning to tie the knot, but never seem to find the right match. No matter how often they light candles, inscribe votive plaques, and wait for heaven to answer them, they fail to find the en for which they yearn. It is hard to approach any of the earnest young people at Tokyo Daijingu and ask them directly how often they have already visited the shrine, or how long they expect to keep visiting it before they can find themselves a good find, or catch themselves a good catch, but one gets the impression that for many of them this is neither the first nor the last of their visits: heaven seems to require a lot of candles to be lit before the match they so desperately seek is made. Konkatsu − a modern colloquialism meaning “spouse-hunting”, by analogy with shūkatsu for “job-hunting” − is time-consuming. After all, it may include actual dating, too, as well as the old-fashioned omiai, or meeting arranged by someone acting as matchmaker.
Modern life is complicated, and maybe especially so for the shrine's frequent young visitors. They travel here from all over Japan, it seems, but there are many who look like workers from nearby offices, commuting daily on crowded trains, working long and late to avoid leaving before the boss, experiencing the frustration of having so little time left for dating, and suffering from the hirō, or exhaustion of toiling in the city.
In Japanese, as in English, medical science and psychology have begun to recognize conditions that used to be dismissed as simple ignorance or laziness but are now regarded as legitimate cases for study and treatment. They are often called “syndromes” in English, which connotes, if you know Greek, not a simple condition but a complex combination of disorders. The word in Japanese, with the same connotation, is shōkōgun.
Like city life and work, the search for a match may be both exhaustive and exhausting, and modern Japanese society recognizes that with the recently invented expression konkatsu-hirō-shōkōgun. Can we put that into English as “dating fatigue syndrome”, or “match-hunting exhaustion syndrome” and retain the nuances of the term, with its tongue-in-cheek allusions to something typical of modern Japanese society, expressed in vocabulary also typical of modern Japanese society?
That is a constant problem for a lexicographer: having the en to find good matches for words.
 whistle-blower の Edward Snowden 元 CIA 職員は日本で「スノーデン」として報道されたが，Paul Snowden 先生は「スノードン」と表記．
 a match made in heaven はイディオマティックに「この上ない良縁，理想的な縁組み」を指すが，ここでは made in heaven を字義どおり「天の配剤」の意味に受け取られたい．
 answer prayers 祈りにこたえる，願いをかなえる．
 イギリス英語．アメリカ英語では specialty.
 cf. Her specialty is in tropical diseases. 彼女の専門は熱帯病です(研究社『新編 英和活用大辞典』specialty 項)．
 grant success 成功 [幸運] を授ける．
 この set は過去分詞．先行する have は使役動詞．
 if you'll pardon the pun その地口を許してくださるなら(新編 英和活用大辞典1pun項)，“駄洒落御免”．
 bear の過去分詞．bear out で「裏書きする」(研究社『新英和大辞典』第六版 bear1 項)．
 the plain (明白な) historical factual record of 以下に関し，東京大神宮のホームページに次の記述がある．「明治33年，宮中の歴史において初めて皇居内の賢所(神前)で行われた当時の皇太子殿下 (後の大正天皇) と九条節子姫 (後の貞明皇后) のご成婚の慶事を記念して，東京大神宮では神前結婚式を創始し，以後その普及に力を注いでまいりました」(http://www.tokyodaijingu.or.jp/wedding/index.html に掲載の文章を再構成)．
 whatever (may be) the case いずれにせよ，ともかく(新英和大辞典 whatever 項)．
 visitors (参拝客)の総体が，非常に多くの若い人々から「成っている」の意味．comprise には，構成要素が主語になって，全体を「形作る」の意味となる用法もある．
 GG＝Green Goddess (緑色の女神). GG5 で研究社『新和英大辞典』第五版を指す．この辞典が代々，緑を基調に装丁されていることに掛けて，英語を母語とする和英翻訳者の間でこう呼ばれることがある．ちなみに『新英和大辞典』は BB＝Brown Behemoth (茶色のビヒモス) だとか．Behemoth は旧約聖書の「ヨブ記」に登場する巨獣．
 It seems to me that the current GG entry places excessive emphasis on the “horse” element. Although the word is indeed made up of the elements e (“picture”) and ma (“horse”), many modern ema bear no picture of a horse.
 ここまでの文の主語は many of the prayers. 続く written から precincts (境内) までは、この主語を修飾する句．動詞は request ならびに name. prospective mate は「将来の伴侶」．
 one＝a knot.
 comes in at number 7 (「えん」の見出しの) 7番目に登場する．
 such . . . as . . . のような英語の定義が与えられ．
 この of は idea そして直前の materialization (具現)にもかかる．
 ここまでが who に始まる関係節．
 東京大神宮の例祭で行われる「献燈」への allusion だが，本記事中の頻出語に掛けてもある．
 find . . . catch 動詞と同一の語を目的語に据えた修辞的表現．themselves は間接目的語 (与格)．
 they . . . seek the match の関係節．
 by analogy with . . . との類推による．
＊さて，最後まで読まれた諸賢なら，本記事のタイトルがそもそも “もじり” であったことにお気づきだろう．この英語自体は tie (up) in [into] knots という成句の受け身で「ひどく頭を悩ます，困り果てる」といった意味だが (研究社『新英和中辞典』第7版 knot1 項，『ルミナス英和辞典』第2版 knot 項)，本文に照らせば tie the knot との類推により「婚活がんじがらめ」のような意味合いにもなる．