683 - をかわきりに(して)

JLPT N1: を皮切りに(して)

I'll be honest, I never see this grammar being used.

But then again, I'm not a native Japanese speaker...

を皮切りに (をかわきりに) is used when you are pointing out the first thing that was then followed by a lot of other, similar things.

For example:


ウィリアムさんは、広島の原爆ドームを皮切りに、日本の世界遺産をすべて見に行ったそうです。
ウィリアム さん は、 ひろしま の げんばくドーム をかわきりに、 にほん の せかいいさん を すべて みに いった そうです。
William-san said that he visited all of Japan’s World Heritage sites after seeing the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
Literally: “William-san + は, + Hiroshima + の + atomic bomb + dome + を皮切りに, + Japan + の + (UNESCO) World Heritage (sites) + を + all + went to see + そうです (=[hearsay marker]).”
Note: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Why does "skin/pelt" (皮) "cutting" (切り) mean "starting with ~" or "~ marked the beginning of..." ...?

Don't ask me.

What I was particularly confused about is whether or not the action coming before を皮切りに is supposed to be the cause of the action following it, as none of the grammar books I looked through made mention of this.

Sometimes our English translations will indeed make it seem that they're connected:


ある一人の生徒の行動を皮切りに、多くの生徒がボランティア活動を行うようになった。
ある ひとり の せいと の こうどう を かわきりに、 おおく の せいと が ボランティア かつどう を おこなう ように なった。
The actions of one student were the catalyst for many other students to volunteer.
Literally: “a certain + one person + の + student + の + actions + を皮切りに, + many + の + student + が + volunteering + activity + を + perform / carry out + ように + became.”

I suppose we can just say that maybe the action before を皮切りに is causing the action after it. But this is not necessarily the case.


👷 Construction 👷

This, at least, is straightforward. Just put a NOUN before を皮切りに:

NOUNを皮切りに

Oh, and don't be alarmed if you see を皮切りにして or を皮切りとして.

They mean more or less the same thing.

Examples...



その選手は2010年の大会を皮切りにして、8年連続で優勝している。
その せんしゅ は にせんじゅうねん の たいかい をかわきりにして、 はちねん れんぞく で ゆうしょう している。
Starting with the tournament in 2010, that player has won eight years in a row.
Literally: “that + player + は + the year 2010 + の + tournament + を皮切りにして, + eight years + consecutive + で + winning + is doing.”




作曲家である彼は、自叙伝の出版を皮切りとして、作家としても多くの作品を生み出した。
さっきょくか である かれ は、 じじょでん の しゅっぱん をかわきりとして、 さっか として も おおく の さくひん を うみだした。
Beginning with the publication of his autobiography, the composer went on to write many books as an author.
Literally: “composer + is (=である) + he + は, + autobiography + の + publishing + を皮切りとして, + author + as (=として) + も + many + の + works + を + produced / created.”



As with most N1 topics, the main issue is not so much the grammar in question but rather the fact that the sentences are lengthy and they contain a lot of vocabulary.

So you might want to take extra time really going over the word-by-word breakdowns of each sentence. In fact, when I write those word-by-word breakdowns, I often notice mistakes in my translations that I have to fix. This helps in accomplishing the most difficult part of NDL's: Getting Rei's stamp of approval for a given translation. She's a tough proofreader. ^_^