The title of the Oscar-nominated film “ドライブ・マイ・カー” (“Doraibu Mai Kā,” “Drive My Car”), directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and based on the short story by Haruki Murakami, is a metaphor. Or at least it was originally: the Beatles song of the same name is steeped in sexual innuendo.

Metaphors and similes — or 比喩 (hiyu) in Japanese — are an important part of the language, as they are in English. They demonstrate emphasis, function as a euphemism (like “Drive My Car” does in the song), and provide a vivid and expressive way to describe a feeling, action, object or state. They’re also a huge part of the Murakami story behind Japan’s most successful showing at the Academy Awards since the output of Akira Kurosawa. The film is nominated for best foreign film, best adapted screenplay, best director and, the ultimate, best picture.

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