Heart residue

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Stuart Luppescu writes:

I recently ate at a yakiniku 焼肉 ("grilled meat") place in Kyoto that serves only chicken and pork — rather atypical. One menu item was kokoronokori 心残り. I asked the server what that was, and was told it was the flesh, blood vessels, and fat around the heart that is left over when they prepare the heart to be served. Since I am a gaijin 外人 ("foreigner"), they gave me a menu that had the entries with English glosses. For this one they wrote "regret" — they had obviously relied on Google Translate for their rendering. After I left I realized I should have taken a picture and sent it to you, but this message will have to do.

We can't really blame Google Translate or any other translation service for rendering kokoronokori 心残り as "regret, reluctance" (i.e., your heart remaining behind, still preoccupied with the matter in question), since that's the only definition I can find in online dictionaries and machine translation services.

I suspect that even most Japanese people, if they were not in a special environment like a yakiniku 焼肉 ("grilled meat") shop, would not even think of remains from the physical heart when they saw the term "kokoronokori 心残り", but "lingering thoughts and feelings" only.

Incidentally, the same two characters reversed constitute the word zanshin 残心:


1. continued alertness; unrelaxed alertness; remaining on one's guard; being prepared for a counterstroke

follow-through (e.g. in archery)

lingering affection; attachment; regret; regrets; reluctance (orig. meaning)

Wikipedia definition
4. Zanshin is a term used in the Japanese martial arts. It r… Read more

[from jisho]

Unlike kokoronokori 心残り, where nokori 残り ("remnant; residue; left-over") is the main element of the construction and kokoro 心 ("heart") modifies it, zanshin 残心 could not be used to refer to the parts that are left over from preparing a heart for cooking, since shin 心 ("heart") is the main element in the construction and zan 残 ("remaining; residual") modifies it.  Hence, kokoronokori 心残り ("heart residue") vs. zanshin 残心 ("residual heart").

So far as I know, cánxīn 残心 (lit. "residual heart") is not a lexical item in Chinese.

In "Chinese words and characters for 'gizzard'" (1/7/15), I mentioned that one of the primary reasons I married my wife was because of the incredibly delicious chicken hearts she made for me once when we were dating.  Later it became difficult for her to make this dish, since it was very hard to find enough chicken hearts in meat departments of grocery stores.  Most butchers simply threw them away, which to me was a crying shame.

What we're talking about here with kokoronokori 心残り are the flesh, blood vessels, and fat around the heart that are left over after the heart is prepared for cooking.  Even my wife threw those parts away, so it's not surprising that there's not an established word for them in English, at least not so far as I know.  It seems, however, that these parts are enough in demand in yakiniku 焼肉 ("grilled meat") shops that the Japanese use the word kokoronokori 心残り, which usually means "regret, reluctance", in its more literal sense of "heart-residue / remnants" to signify the parts of the heart that are left over after it is prepared for cooking.

I can't think of a regular word for these leftover parts of the heart in Chinese, though I suppose that you could say xīncán 心残 ("heart residues / remnants"), but that strikes me as rather ad hoc, not as an established term.


  1. leoboiko said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 1:51 pm

    I was once taught that kokoro is the metaphorical “heart” (mind/emotions/spirit), and the physical organ is called shinzō 心臓. EDICT has 183 entries including kokoro, and, from a cursory reading, I think all of them are in the psychological sense. The same seems to be true of the numerous examples in Kenkyūsha’s Japanese–English dictionary; and both of them list kokoro-nokori exclusively as "regrets". I only found kokoro = the physical organ in the Kōjien, and even then, their example is Classical and somewhat ambiguous: 心まで来る憂き涙 Kokoro-made kuru uki-Namida “sad tears reaching down to the heart/chest".

    Perhaps the culinary kokoro-nokori is a deliberate pun?

    Incidentally, I love organ meat. Chicken hearts are popular in Brazil, and my 9-year-old daughter is hugely into them. Many people (including my family back in the country) also eat such delicacies as the liver, neck, feet, tail, and gizzard (a personal fav). But we still don't reach the level of yakitori stands – in Japan I had a lot of fun trying out about every single vaguely edible part of a chicken, including cartilage. No kokoro-nokori, though. Will very much hunt for them next time.

  2. Michael Greenberg said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 2:53 pm

    I ate at a yakiniku in Kiyamachi-dori that had an untranslated item on their "5 most popular dishes"—I was rather proud to suss it the Hiragana as saying "kori kori". It was just the main artery from a cow: a thick white square with a bit of fat on it, lightly grilled and heavily salted. I enjoyed it; my partner, not so much.

  3. Victor Mair said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 4:10 pm

    Jiajia Wang (a native Beijinger) told me about a very colloquial Pekingese term, jīntóu bānǎo de (dōngxī) 筋头巴脑的(东西), which she says refers to vessels, fat, or other things left out from the desired meat (or organs).

  4. Rubrick said,

    August 20, 2016 @ 6:21 pm

    I suspect the translated name might be quite apt for many a less-adventurous eater.

  5. Vilinthril said,

    August 21, 2016 @ 4:06 am

    I'm willing to bet we in Austria have some term for that, too, but sadly, I'm not well versed in culinary vocabulary.

  6. Victor Mair said,

    August 21, 2016 @ 10:47 pm

    Lexicographical notes for specialists from Nathan Hopson:

    日本国語大辞典 gives the following, single definition:

    デジタル大辞泉 is nearly identical:

    未練 (miren) = regret

  7. Jim Breen said,

    August 22, 2016 @ 5:45 am

    About 5 years ago a contributor to the JMdict/EDICT dictionary proposed adding this extra sense to the 心残り dictionary. After a bit of discussion we decoded not to include it because the evidence was too slight. Following this LLog posting I think it's time to revisit the entry. I'm quoting this posting in the submission.
    See: http://www.edrdg.org/jmdictdb/cgi-bin/entr.py?svc=jmdict&sid=&q=1360690

  8. Jacob said,

    August 23, 2016 @ 3:07 pm

    @Victor Mair: I was a frequent patron of 刘一锅筋头巴脑 when I lived in Shenyang. It was a delicious (and warming) Dongbei hotpot that was filled with potato slices, beef tripe, beef tendons, and whatever else you cared to order.

  9. エリック・ビニール said,

    August 26, 2016 @ 2:11 pm

    Neal Stephenson on zanshin:

    Translating this concept into English is like translating “fuckface” into Nipponese, but it might translate into “emotional intensity” in football lingo.

    Snow Crash (1992)

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