Japanese proverbs

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For the meaning and classification of kotowaza (諺, Japanese proverbs), see: Japanese proverbs.

SayingsEdit

  • 角を矯めて牛を殺す
    • Tsuno o tamete ushi o korosu.
    • Translation: To kill a bull by straightening its horns.
    • Meaning: The remedy is often worse than the disease.
    • "Action taken to put something right is often more unpleasant or damaging than the original problem."
    • Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. 
    • 池田彌三郎; Donald Keene; 常名鉾二郎 (1982). 日英故事ことわざ辞典. 北星堂書店. p. 56. 
  • 継続は力なり
    • Keizoku wa chikara nari.
    • Translation: To continue is power.
    • English equivalent: Persevere and never fear.
    • ポケット図解ドラッカー経営のツボがよーくわかる本:. 秀和システム. 2008. p. 37. ISBN 4798020680. 
  • 早い者勝ち
    • hayai mono gachi
    • Translation: The early one wins.
    • English equivalent: First come, first served.
    • "Those who arrive or apply earliest are most likely to get what they want from a limited supply of things, such as tickets, discounted goods or refreshments."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. 
    • ジェフリー・E・F・フリードル (April 2008). 詳説正規表現. O'Reilly Japan. p. 170. ISBN 978-4-87311-359-3. 
  • 井戸の中の独言も三年たてば知れる
  • 乗りかかった船
    • nori-kakatta fune
    • Translation: A ship that you are already partially in.
    • English equivalent: In for a penny, in for a pound.
    • 中地正行 (November 2001). 遥かなる大地. 文芸社. p. 145. ISBN 978-4-8355-2160-2. 
  • 一盲衆を引く
    • ichi mou shuu o hiku
    • Translation: One blind man leads the crowd.
    • English equivalent: If the blind leads the blind, they both fall into the ditch.
    • Meaning: A person ignorant/inexperienced in something cannot assist someone similar.
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "35". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 203. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Kokugakuin zasshi. 國學院大學. 1978. p. 4. 
  • 出る杭は打たれる
    • deru kui wa utareru
    • Translation: The stake that sticks out gets hammered down.
    • Note: While kui (stake) is sometimes used in place of kugi (nail) some purists point to the incongruity of using "kui" since, in traditional Japanese post and beam house construction, it is physically impossible to hammer a stake flush with the wood, and a stake in the ground would have no structural function.
    • Meaning: "Standing out goes hand in hand with criticism."
    • English equivalent: The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
    • Roku Okada, Japanese Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, Japan Travel Bureau, Tokyo 1955, page 28
  • 艱難にあって初めて真友を知る
    • kannan ni atte hajimete shinyū o shiru
    • Translation: Friends are known first in hardships.
    • English equivalent: A friend is known in adversity, like gold is known in fire; A friend in need is a friend indeed.
    • Chinese equivalent: 患难见真情。
    • "Beware of false friends. – If one is in good circumstances many people pose as friends to have the benefits of friendship but only the true ones remain in adversity."
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 159. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • 虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ず
    • koketsu ni irazunba koji o ezu
    • Translation: If you do not enter the tiger's cave, you will not catch its cub.
    • English equivalent: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    • Chinese equivalent: 不入虎穴,焉得虎子。
    • Meaning: "Nothing can be achieved without effort, suffering or hardship."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. 
    • 茂田滄海 (2002). サラリーマンの父から息子への、67通の手紙: 中国の名言をちりばめて. 文芸社. p. 81. ISBN 4835539524. 
  • 木の実は元へ落つる
    • Kinomi wa moto e otsuru
    • Translation: A berry falls to (its tree's) roots.
    • English equivalent: The apple does not fall far from the tree.
    • "Children observe daily and — in their behaviour — often follow the example of their parents."
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 259. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • 七転び八起き
    • nana korobi ya oki
    • Translation: Fall down seven times, get up eight
    • English equivalent: If at first you don't succeed try, try again.
    • McDermott, Patrick (2007). Mind Body Spirit: The Triangle of Life. iUniverse. p. 84. ISBN 0595420761. 
  • 能ある鷹は爪を隠す
    • nou aru taka wa tsume o kakusu
    • Translation: The talented hawk hides its claws.
    • Meaning: One should hide his best abilities until time comes to show them.
    • Closest English equivalent: "Still water runs deep."
    • 関洸念 (1999). 諺にみる運・根・鈍: 日本人の魂の故郷を温ねて. 文芸社. p. 399. ISBN 4887376863. 
  • 小打も積もれば大木を倒す
    • shouda mo tsumoreba taiboku o taosu
    • Translation: With many little strokes a large tree is felled.
    • English equivalent: Little strokes fell great oaks.
    • Meaning: "A difficult task, e. g. removing a person/group from a strong position, or changing established ideas cannot be done quickly. It can be achieved gradually, by small steps, a little at a time."
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 252. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • 立つ鳥跡を濁さず
    • tatsu tori ato o nigosazu
    • Translation: A leaving bird does not leave a mess.
    • English equivalent: It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest; Don't wash your dirty linen in public.
    • Meaning: "Why wantonly proclaim one's own disgrace, or expose the faults or weaknesses of one's kindred or people?"
    • Meaning 2: "It is considered contemptible to defy the rule of solidarity by revealing facts harmful to the group one belongs to."
    • Proverbs of All Nations. W. Kent & Company (late D. Bogue). 1859. p. 109. 
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "106". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 466. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • この父にしてこの子あり
    • kono chichi ni shite kono ko ari
    • Translation: With such father there is such a child.
    • English equivalent: Like father, like son.
    • Chinese equivalent: 有其父,必有其子。
    • Meaning: "Sons may look and behave like their fathers. This is due to inheritance and the example observed closely and daily."
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 170. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • 酒は本心を表す
    • Sake-wa honshin-wo arawasu..
    • Translation: Sake [in other words alcohol], reveals the true heart.
    • English equivalent: In wine there is truth; In vino veritas.
    • Chinese equivalent: 酒后吐真言。
    • Meaning: "Alcohol consumed removes the inhibition against telling the truth that occasionally one would like to keep secret."
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 272. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 

Idiomatic phrasesEdit

  • 水に流す
    • mizu ni nagasu
    • Translation: let flow in the water
    • English equivalent: Forgive and forget; water under the bridge
    • 真面目なのに生きるのが辛い人. PHP研究所. 2011. p. 25. ISBN 456979551X. 


  • 石の上にも三年

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