Sometimes you need to know every single aspect of an incident to get the full picture. In that case, you should ask for the ichibushiju — the whole story, from the beginning until the end.

Ichibushiju (一部始終)

Meaning: The whole story, from beginning to end, all the details, everything about something, chapter and verse, the whole shebang

Literal translation and kanji breakdown: First, let’s split it into two sections. The first half, ichibu (一部), literally translates to “one part” but this doesn’t encompass its true meaning. It’s better to interpret it as one copy of something — an item that is a complete entity on its own — like a newspaper, magazine or book. (More details on why below.) As for shiju (始終), the two characters mean “start” and “finish”, making it pretty self-explanatory. Together we get the whole entity of something, from start to finish.

Ichibushiju: The Origins

Originally, ichibushiju meant from the beginning to the end of a book — as in one block or piece of literature. This eventually evolved into including the whole story of a thing or event. There aren’t many sources explaining the exact origin or first appearance, but it’s likely this is an expression created in Japan.

Ichibushiju: Related Expressions

一から十まで Ichi kara jyu made From A to Z, without exception

顛末 Tenmatsu Details of an incident, course of events

何でもかんでも Nandemo kandemo Anything and all things, all sorts of things

一切合切 Issai-gassai Altogether, lock stock and barrel, without reserve

徹頭徹尾 Tettou-tetsubi Thoroughly, through and through

根掘り葉掘り Nehori hahori Inquisitively and persistently, thoroughly

一伍一什 Ichigoichiju From beginning to end, all the particulars

終始一貫 Shushi-ikkan Consistently, throughout

Using “ichibushiju” in a sentence

Commonly used in both spoken and written conversations, this handy phrase will get you all the info you need.

私たちは、このサスペンスドラマの一部始終を見ていたので、犯人が誰だかすぐにわかった。Watashitachi wa, kono sasupensu dorama no ichibushiju wo miteita no de, hannin ga dare da ka sugu ni wakatta. Because we watched the entire thriller series, we immediately figured out who the culprit was. 

最初からプロジェクトチームに参加をしたので、この企画の一部始終を知っている。 Saisho kara purojekuto chi-mu ni sanka shita no de, kono kikaku no ichibushiju wo shitteiru. Since we joined the team at the very start, we know everything there is to know about this project.

この映画のシリーズは長く続いているので、物語の一部始終を覚えている。Kono eiga no shiri-zu wa nagaku tsuzuiteiru no de, monogatari no ichibushiju wo oboeteiru. This movie series has been going on for a long time, so I remember every part of the story.

Want more? Follow our weekly Yojijukugo Japanese Idiom series, published every Friday. Learn the meaning of “nisoku-sanmon” here, “ryutodabi” here and “kokki-fukurei” here.