ことわざ(諺)= Kotowaza : Japanese Proverbs



= Sonna yarikata jaa “Nikai kara megusuri” dayo.


= The way you’re doing that is not effective at all.


無断転載・複写を禁じます.(All rights reserved)


Hi everyone! Today’s guest teacher is Kacchan Sensei.

By request, today’s lesson is about Japanese proverbs. (Not idiomatic expressions but proverbs.) 

You may have seen a few of my past lessons where I introduced quite a few proverbs.

Related Lesson: 


Animal Related Japanese



Japanese Expressions with numbers 



Of course, there are countless of proverbs so I chose some of the most common ones.

Some proverbs have exactly the same meaning in English. But some of them are completely different, so study them carefully.

I’ll give you the literal translation and the more useful meaning in English.

Since they are old sayings, you may see some of the verb forms are different from what you’ve learned in the past. 


1) verb negative form Vない = Vnai →Old Japanese  V = V zu


* 来ない = こない = konai = don’t/doesn’t come来ず = こず = kozu


* しない = shinai = don’t/doesn’t doせず = sezu


* わからない = wakaranai  = don’t/doesn’t understandわからず = wakarazu 




→V = V nu


知らない= しらない = shiranai = not know知らぬ = しらぬ = shiranu

You can modify a noun with V ( = nu) but you can’t modify a noun with ( = zu)


知らぬ顔 = しらぬかお = shiranu kao = pretending not to know (literally face that does not know)

X 知らず顔 = しらずかお = shirazu kao (wrong)


2) Negative imperative form: 


Vてはいけない = te wa ikenai = Don’t do ~ / You must not do ~ 

→Verb dictionary form + べからず = bekarazu


Ex. してはいけない = shitewa ikenai = Don’t do/You must not do

するべからず = suru bekarazu


3) ない ( = nai) There is no ~old Japanese なし ( = nashi) 

ある ( =aru) There is no ~old Japanese あり ( ari) 


4) When you state である ( = dearu) →old Japanese ~なり ( = nari)


And many proverbs use the imperative form. 


Ex. 回りなさい = まわりなさい = mawarinasai / 回って = まわって = mawatte 

→old Japanese 回れ = まわれ = maware = Make a detour


5) i-adjective ~い ( = i) →old Japanese ( = shi)


Ex. 苦い = にがい = nigai = bitter →old Japanese 苦し = にがし = nigashi


★How to use these proverbs in conversation.:

Unlike my regular lessons, I won’t give you example sentences, but I will show you how to use the proverbs in conversation. 

Use these proverbs when you encourage people, give advice, warn someone, describe a situation, describe a relationship, express your feelings, and more. 





= 「いしのうえにもさんねん」といいますからがんばってください。

= “Ishi no ue ni mo sannen” to iimasu kara ganbatte kudasai.

= As they say “Perseverance pays off.”, so please hang in there. 





= 「いしのうえにもさんねん」っていうじゃない。がんばって!

= “Ishi no ue ni mo sannen” tte iu janai. Ganbatte!

= Hang in there! Like they say, “Perseverance pays dividends”


Ex. 「郷に入れば郷に従え」という諺がありますが、この国のいい習慣は取り入れたいと思います。

= 「ごうにいればごうにしたがえ」ということわざがありますが、このくにのいいしゅうかんはとりいれたいとおもいます。

= “Gou ni ireba goi ni shitagae” toiu kotowaza ga arimasu ga, kono kuni no ii shuukan wa toriiretai to omoimasu.

= As the proverb, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”, says, I would like for this country to adapt some good habits.


Sometimes you don’t quote the whole proverb. You just say the beginning just like in English.


Ex. あっ、噂をすれば…

= あっ、うわさをすれば…

= Ah, uwasa wo sureba…

= Oh, speak of the devil…


Ex. 雨降ってなんとかっていうからね。

= あめふってなんとかっていうからね。

= Amefutte nantoka tte iu karane.

= As they say, something always comes after the rain, right?


Ex. 彼は歌手と作家の二足の草鞋を履いている。

= かれはかしゅとさっかのにそくのわらじをはいている。

= Kare wa kashu to sakka no ni soku no waraji wo haite iru.
= He wears two hats, as a singer and a writer. 


Ex. それは、寝耳に水です。

= それは、ねみみにみずです。

= Sore wa, nemimi ni mizu desu.

= That’s a bolt from the blue. 


In casual conversation, you use the shortened version.


Ex. 棚から牡丹餅 = たなからぼたもち = tana kara botamochi 

(The literal meaning) Botamochi (rice cake covered with azuki bean paste) falls down from a shelf (into an open mouth) = pennies from heaven

棚ぼた = tanabota


Now, the following list are all categorized and in あいうえお順 ( = a i u e o jun), the order of the Japanese syllabary. 





生き方 = いきかた = ikikata / 人生 = じんせい = jinsei = Life in general 


* 明日は明日の風が吹く

= あしたはあしたのかぜがふく

= Ashita wa ashita no kaze ga fuku
(The literal meaning) Tomorrow’s wind blows differently

= Tomorrow is another day.


* 雨降って地固まる 

= あめふってじかたまる

= ame futte ji katamaru 

= After rain comes fair weather/adversity strengthens the foundations


* 案ずるより生むが易し 

= あんずるよりうむがやすし 

= anzuru yori umu ga yasushi 

= It is easier to do something than worry about it.


Note: 易し ( =やすし = yasushi) is an old expression of 易しい ( =やさしいeasy 


* 石橋を叩いて渡る

= いしばしをたたいてわたる

= Ishibashi wo tataite wataru

= (The literal meaning) Strike a stone bridge before crossing it (to make sure if it is safe to cross)

= be excessively cautious


* 石の上にも三年

= いしのうえにもさんねん

= Ishi no ue ni mo sannen
(The literal meaning) Three years on a stone
= Perseverance pays off. 


* 急がば回れ 

= いそがばまわれ

= isogaba maware 

= Make haste slowly


Note:  急がば ( = isogaba) ⇦Old conditional form 急いでいれば ( = isoide ireba) when you are in a hurry


* 井の中の蛙大海を知らず 

= いのなかのかわずたいかいをしらず 

= ino naka no kawazu taikai wo shirazu
= The frog in the well knows nothing of the great ocean.


Note: V ( = zu) is an old negative form

知らない ( = shiranai) not to know →知らず ( =shirazu)


* 思い立ったが吉日 

= おもいたったがきちじつ 

= omoitatta ga kichijitsu  

= The day you decide to do it is your lucky day

/ Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.



= かほうはねてまて

= Kahou wa nete mate
(The literal meaning) Wait for the good news sleeping.

= Good things come to those who wait. 


* 君子危うきに近寄らず

= くんしあやうきにちかよらず 

= kunshi awauki ni chikayorazu 

= A wise man keeps away from danger


* 継続は力なり
= けいぞくはちからなり

= Keizoku wa chikara nari

= Practice makes perfect.


Note: なり ( = nari) is an old way to say ~である ( = de aru)


* 郷に入れば郷に従え


= Gou ni ireba gou ni shitagae

(The literal meaning) When you are in that place, follow the way people there do things.
= When in Rome, do as the Romans do.


* 転ばぬ先の杖

= ころばぬさきのつえ

= Korobanu saki no tsue
(The literal meaning) Use a cane before you fall. 

= Look before you leap./ Prevention is better than the cure


Note: V ( = nu) is another negative form of Vない

転ばぬ ( = ころばぬ  = korobanu)⇦転ばない ( = ころばない = korobanai)


* 猿も木から落ちる 

= さるもきからおちる 

= saru mo ki kara ochiru 

(The literal meaning) Even monkeys fall from trees.

= Anyone can make a mistake/pride comes before the fall.


* 三度目の正直

= さんどめのしょうじき
= Sandome no shoujiki
= Third time lucky./The third time’s the charm.


* 失敗は成功のもと 

= しっぱいはせいこうのもと 

= shippai wa seikou no moto 

= Every failure is a stepping stone to success./Failure teaches success.


* 初心忘れるべからず

= しょしんわすれるべからず

= Shoshin wasureru bekarazu

= Don’t forget your first resolution.


Note: べからず ( = bekarazu) is an old way to say ~てはいけない ( = te wa ikenai) ~ Don’t/ You mustn’t ~ .


* 蛇の道は蛇 

= じゃのみちはへび 

= ja no michi wa hebi  

= Set a thief to catch a thief. / Leave it to the professionals.


* 知らぬが仏 

= しらぬがほとけ 

= shiranu ga hotoke 

(The literal meaning) The one who doesn’t know is Buddha. 

= Ignorance is bliss.


Note: V ( = nu) is an old negative form Vない ( = nai) 知らない = shiranai →知らぬ ( = shiranu) not to know.



= じんせいやまありたにあり

= Jinsei yama ari tani ari
(The literal meaning) There are mountains and valleys in life.
= Life has its ups and downs.


* 捨てる神あれば拾う神あり

= すてるかみあればひろうかみあり

= Suteru kami areba hirou kami ari

(The literal meaning) If there is a God to throw away, there is a God to pick up
= When one door shuts another opens.


Note: あり ( = ari) is an old end form  ( ~が)ある ( = ( ~ ga)  aru) →あり ( = ari) 



* 住めば都

= すめばみやこ

= Sumeba miyako 

= Home is where you make it.



* 千里の道も一歩から

= せんりのみちもいっぽから

= Senri no michi mo ippo kara

= A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Note: 千里 = せんり = senri = 4,000 km


* 備えあれば憂いなし

= そなえあればうれいなし

= Sonae areba urei nashi
(The literal meaning) If you are well prepared, you don’t need to worry about anything.

= Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. 


Note: なし ( = nashi) is an old end form  ( ~が)ない ( = ( ~ ga)  nai) 

なし ( = nashi)


* 立つ鳥跡を濁さず
= たつとりあとをにごさず

= Tatsutori ato wo nigosazu
= A leaving bird does not leave dirt.

= It is important to know when to quit or leave and when you leave a place, resign from a job or end a relationship, do not leave a mess behind you.



= てんはにぶつをあたえず

= Ten wa nibutsu wo ataezu

(The literal meaning) God does not give two gifts./Heaven does not grant people more than one talent

= God doesn’t give with both hands.

Nobody is perfect.


* 塵も積もれば山となる

= ちりもつもればやまとなる

= Chiri mo tsumore ba yama to naru
(The literal meaning) Even dust becomes a mountain if piled together.

= Many small amounts accumulate to make a large amount. 


* 鉄は熱い内に打て

= てつはあついうちにうて

= Tetsu wa atsui uchi ni ute

= Strike while the iron is hot.


* 逃げるが勝ち 

= にげるがかち

= nigeru ga kachi 

= He that fights and runs away may live to fight another day


* 七転び八起き 

= ななころびやおき 

= nanakorobi yaoki 

= (Literal meaning) Fall down seven times, get up eight. 

= to rise after repeated failures / to have ups and downs in life.


* 二兎を追う者は一兎をも得ず 

= にとをおうものはいっとをもえず

= Nito wo ou mono wa itto wo mo ezu

= He who runs after two hares will catch neither.


* 二度あることは三度ある
= にどあることはさんどある

= nido aru koto wa sando aru

= What happens twice will happen three times.


* 喉元過ぎれば熱さを忘れる
= のどもとすぎればあつさをわすれる

= Nodomoto sugireba atsusa wo wasureru

(The literal meaning) If it passes your throat, you forget about how hot it was.

= Danger past and God forgotten. /When pain is gone, it’s soon forgotten.」→ Even if you are going through difficult times, once it passes, you will forget how hard it was.  


* 花より団子      🌸 < 🍡

= はなよりだんご

= Hana yori dango
= Dumplings rather than cherry blossoms. 

(to prefer actual profits/benefits rather than refinement/elegance )

= Bread is better than the songs of birds. (In other words, People prefer practical things.)


* 人は見かけによらない

= ひとはみかけによらない

= Hito wa mikake ni yoranai

= You can’t judge a book by its cover. / Appearances are deceptive. 


* 火のない所に煙は立たず

= ひのないところにけむりはたたず

= Hi no nai tokoro ni kemuri wa tatazu

= Where there’s smoke there’s fire.


* 百聞は一見に如かず

= ひゃくぶんはいっけんにしかず

= Hyakubun wa ikken ni shikazu

= Seeing is believing. / A picture is worth a thousand words.


* 覆水盆に返らず 

= ふくすいぼんにかえらず 

= fukusui bon ni kaerazu 

(The literal meaning) spilt water won’t go back into its tray.

= It is no use crying over spilt milk. / What’s done is done.


* 負けるが勝ち 

= まけるがかち 

= makeru ga kachi 

= Losing is winning. 


Note: 負けるが ( = makeru ga) is an old way to say 負ける方が勝ち ( = まけるほうがかち = makeru hou ga kachi )


* 三つ子の魂百迄

= みつごのたましい、ひゃくまで

= Mitsugo no tamashii hyaku made

(The literal meaning) The soul of 3 years old children will remain until they turn 100 years old.

= What is learned in the cradle is carried to the grave.


* 目から鱗が落ちる

= めからうろこがおちる

 = Me kara uroko ga ochiru

= The scales fall from somebody’s eyes. / To suddenly to be awakened to the truth.



= わざわいてんじてふくとなす

= Wazawai tenjite fuku to nasu

or 禍を転じて福と為す

= わざわいをてんじてふくとなす

= Wazawai wo tenjite fuku to nasu
= Out of evil comes good.


Note: 為す = なす ( = nasu) is an old way to say なる ( = naru) to become/to turn 


* 笑う門には福来る

= わらうかどにはふくきたる 

= Warau kado ni wa fuku kitaru 

= Good fortune and happiness will come to the home of those who smile. / Laughter will bring in luck.


Note: 来たる ( = きたる = kitaru) is an old way to say 来る ( = くる = kuru) to come




* 以心伝心 

= いしんでんしん 

= ishin denshin 

= To understand each other without words. / Reading each other’s minds.



= うまのみみにねんぶつ

= Uma no mimi ni nenbutsu

(The literal meaning) Buddhist chant into horse ears

= Like water off a duck’s back. /  Not willing to listen to others’ advice or suggestions.


* 聞くは一時の恥、聞かぬは一生の恥 

= きくはいっときのはじ、きかぬはいっしょうのはじ 

= kiku wa ittoki no haji, kikanu wa isshou no haji 

= He who asks a question is a fool for a minute.  He who does not remains a fool forever. / Better to ask the way than go astray.




* 口は災いの元 

= くちはわざわいのもと 

(The literal meaning) The mouth is the source of all disaster.

= Out of the mouth comes evil.


* 便りのないのはよい便り

= たよりのないのはよいたより

= Tayori no nai no wa yoi tayori

= No news is good news.


* 沈黙は金

= ちんもくはきん 

= Chinmoku wa kin

= Silence is gold.


* 負け犬の遠吠え

= まけいぬのとおぼえ

= Makeinu no tooboe
(The literal meaning) The howl of the losing dog.

= a bad loser/ sour grapes


* 見ざる言わざる聞かざる 🙈🙊🙉
= みざるいわざるきかざる

= Mizaru Iwazaru Kikazaru

= See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.

(Also you say 見ざる聞かざる言わざる = みざるきかざるいわざる = mizaru kikazaru iwazaru 🙈 🙉🙈



* 目は口ほどに物を言う 

= めはくちほどにものをいう

= Me wa kuchihodo ni mono wo iu 

(The literal meaning) The eyes say more than the mouth.

= The eyes are the windows to the soul. / Eyes are as eloquent as the tongue.


* 良薬は口に苦し 💊

= りょうやくはくちににがし 

= Ryouyaku wa kuchi ni nigashi 

(The literal meaning) Good medicine tastes bitter to the mouse.

= The best advice is the hardest to take.




人間関係 = にんげんかんけい = ningenkankei = Human relationship


= Abata mo ekubo
(The literal meaning) (If you love someone) even a pockmark looks like a dimple.

= Love is blind.


(The English proverb “Love is blind” is translated as “恋は盲目 = こいはもうもく = koi wa moumoku / 愛は盲目 = あいはもうもく = ai wa moumoku)


* 会うは別れの始め 

= あうはわかれのはじめ 

= au wa wakare no hajime 

= We meet only to part. 


* 犬猿の仲 

= けんえんのなか 

= kenen no naka
(The literal meaning) to have a relationship of dog and monkey 

= to fight like cats and dogs.


* 親しき仲にも礼儀あり

= したしきなかにもれいぎあり

= Shitashiki naka nimo reigi ari
(The literal meaning) No matter how close you are to that person, you still have to be polite to each other.
= Good fences make good neighbors.


* 朱に交われば赤くなる 

= しゅにまじわればあかくなる 

= shu ni majiwareba akaku naru
(The literal meaning) If something is mixed in red coloring, it will become red

= people are formed by their surroundings

If you get involved with bad people, you will be corrupted yourself. / If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.


* 出る杭は打たれる

= でるくいはうたれる

= Deru kui wa utareru

= The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.


* 焼け木杭に火が付く 

= やけぼっくいにひがつく 

= yakebokkui ni hi ga tsuku

= Wood half-burned is easily kindled. (expressing rekindled romance) 


* 類は友を呼ぶ 

= るいはともをよぶ 

= rui wa tomo wo yobu 

= Birds of a feather flock together.

People who have similar characteristics or interests tend to gather.


* あちらを立てればこちらが立たず 

= あちらたてればこちらがたたず

= achira wo tatereba kochira ga tatazu 

(The literal meaning) If you please one, you can’t please the other. 

= It is hard to satisfy everybody. 


* 後足で砂をかける 

= あとあしですなをかける 

= atoashi de suna wo kakeru 

(The literal meaning) to kick sand with one’s hind legs

= to do something spiteful as one leaves


* 一期一会 

= いちごいちえ 

= ichigo ichie 

= Treasure every encounter, for it will never recur.


* 飼い犬に手を噛まれる 

= かいいぬにてをかまれる 

= kaiinu ni te wo kamareru 

(The literal meaning) to have one’s hand bitten by one’s own dog.

= to be betrayed by a trusted follower.


* 顔に泥を塗る 

= かおにどろをぬる 

= kao ni doro wo nuru

(The literal meaning) to apply mud on someone’s face

make somebody lose face/to disgrace someone 


* 昨日の敵は今日の友

= きのうのてきはきょうのとも

= Kinou no teki wa kyou no tomo

= Today’s enemies can be your friends tomorrow.


* 触らぬ神に崇りなし

= さわらぬかみにたたりなし

= Sawaranu kami ni tatari nashi
(The literal meaning) If you don’t touch God, you won’t be cursed.
= Let sleeping dogs lie./Far from Jupiter, far from thunder./Don’t ask for trouble.



* 隣の芝生は青い

= となりのしばふはあおい

= Tonari no shibafu wa aoi
= The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


* 魚心あれば水心

= うおごこころあればみずごころ

= Uogokoro areba mizu gokoro

(The literal translation) Having a fish heart, having a water heart. 

If fish shows kindness to water, water will treat them nicely.

= If you are kind to others, others will treat you nicely as well.

/ You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.


* 親しき仲にも礼儀あり

= したしきなかにもれいぎあり 

= shitashiki naka ni mo reigi ari 

=(The literal meaning) Even close friends must be courteous to one another. 

= Good fences make good neighbors. / Good manners even between good friends.


* 三人寄れば文殊の知恵 

= さんにんよればもんじゅのちえ 

= sannin yore ba monju no chie

(The literal meaning) If three people gather, they get wisdom. 

= Two heads are better than one.


* 人の振り見て我が振り直せ 

= ひとのふりみてわがふりなおせ 

= hito no furimite wagafuri naose 

= One man’s fault is another’s lesson.


* 仏の顔も三度まで

= ほとけのかおもさんどまで

= Hotoke no kao mo sando made.

= Even the patience of a saint has limits.


* 濡れ衣を着せる 

= ぬれぎぬをきせる 

= nureginu wo kiseru 

(The literal meaning) to put wet garment on someone

= to falsely accuse someone 


* 噂をすれば影

= うわさをすればかげ

= Uwasa wo sureba kage
(The literal meaning) When you talk about someone, you’ll see that person’s shadow. 

= Speaking of the devil


* 両手に花

= りょうてにはな

= ryoute ni hana
(The literal meaning) To have flowers in both hands

= to have a double advantage/to be between two pretty women.


* 十人十色 

= じゅうにんといろ 

= juunin toiro

(The literal meaning) Ten people, ten colors

= Every person is different. / So many men, so many minds./ Different strokes for different folks.


親子関係 = おやこかんけい = oyakokankei = a parent‐child relationship.


* 蛙の子は蛙 

= かえるのこはかえる 

= kaeru no ko wa kaeru

(The literal meaning) The child of a frog is a frog

= Like father, like son. / The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


* 老いては子に従え 

= おいてはこにしたがえ

= Oite wa ko ni shitagae 

= When you get old, you had better take your children’s advice.


* 親の七光り

= おやのななひかり 

= oya no nanahikari 

= benefiting from the fame of a parent/capitalizing on the fame of a parent


* 親の心子知らず 

= おやのこころこしらず 

= oya no kokoro ko shirazu 

= A child does not know how deeply concerned his parents are about him.


* 立ってる者は親でも使え 

= たってるものはおやでもつかえ 

=Tatteru mono wa oya demo tsukae 

(The literal meaning) Make use of anybody who is standing there even your parents. 

= Make use of anybody who is at hand. / Whoever comes in handy will be ordered about.


* 孝行したいときに親はなし 

= こうこうしたいときにおやはなし 

= koukou shitai toki ni oyawa nashi 

= When you wish to be a good son/daughter, your parents are long gone and it is too late. 

By the time you’d like to be a good son, your parents are already gone. So be nice to your parents while you can.


* 子はかすがい 

= こはかすがい 

= ko wa kasugai 

= A child binds a married couple together.


* 可愛い子には旅をさせよ 

= かわいいこにはたびをさせよ 

= kawaiiko niwa tabi wo saseyo 

(The literal meaning) If you love/care about your child, let him/her travel. 

= Spare the rod and spoil the child.


* 可愛さ余って憎さ百倍 

= かわいさあまってにくさひゃくばい 

= kawaisa amatte nikusa hyakubai 

= The bigger your love is, the stronger your hatred will be.


仕事 = しごと = shigoto = work, business


* 風が吹けば桶屋が儲かる

= かぜがふけばおけやがもうかる 

= kaze ga fukeba okeya ga moukaru

(The literal meaning) When the wind blows, the cooper (the shop which sells tubs, pails, washbasins) makes money.

Wind blows →It raises a cloud of dust and the dust hurt people’s eyes→Many people become blind →The blind people buy 三味線 (shamisen = traditional Japanese musical instrument)  In old days, blind people used to play shamisen to make living→Many cats disappeared because shamisen were made out of cat skin 🙀→The number of rats increase →The rats chew up and hurt the wood tub/pails/washbasins.The cooper makes money. 

= Any event can bring about an effect in an unexpected way.



* 二足の草鞋を履く

= にそくのわらじをはく 

= nisoku no waraji wo haku

(Literal meaning) to wear two pairs of straw sandals*. (*traditional footwear).

= to wear two hats / to play two (or more) roles/ to have one’s fingers in two pies /to hold two different positions


健康 = けんこう = kenkou = health / 日常生活 = にちじょうせいかつ = nichijou seikatsu = daily life


* 年寄りの冷や水 

= としよりのひやみず 

= toshiyori no hiyamizu

= an old man’s indiscretions


* 酒は百薬の長

= さけはひゃくやくのちょう

= Sake wa hyakuyaku no chou

= The moderate amount of alcohol is the best medicine of all.

* 早起きは三文の徳

= はやおきはさんもんのとく

= Hayaoki wa sanmon no toku
(The literal meaning) Waking up early brings benefits
= The early bird catches the worm.


お金 = おかね = okane = money / 商売 = しょうばい = shoubai = business/ 取引 = とりひき = torihiki = dealing 


* 悪銭身につかず 

= あくせんみにつかず 

= akusen mini tsukazu 

= Easy come, easy go! 




= Issen wo warau mono wa issen ni naku. 

Those who laugh at 1 sen (unit of length) cry over 1 sen (unit of length).


* 一攫千金 

= いっかくせんきん 

= ikkakusenkin 

= getting rich quickly/ making a fortune at one stroke



* 金の切れ目が縁の切れ目

= かねのきれめがえんのきれめ

= Kane no kireme ga en no kireme
(The literal meaning) Running out of money is the time to finish your relationship. 

= Love lasts as long as money endures.


* 損して得取れ
= そんしてとくとれ

= Sonshite toku tore

= You must lose a fly to catch a trout. / You have to sacrifice something in order to get what you want.


* 大は小を兼ねる

= だいはしょうをかねる

= Dai wa shou wo kaneru
= Better too big than too small.


* 安物買いの銭失い 

= やすものがいのぜにうしない 

= yasumonogai no zeni ushinai

(Literal meaning) to buy cheap things (to save money) and end up losing money

= Penny wise and pound foolish.


* 猫に小判 

= ねこにこばん 

= neko ni koban 

(The literal meaning) To give a gold coin to a cat

= to waste something good on someone who doesn’t appreciate/care about.


* 豚に真珠

= ぶたにしんじゅ

= buta ni shinju

(The literal meaning) To give a pearl to a pig.

= to cast pearls before swine


* 取らぬ狸の皮算用

= とらぬたぬきのかわざんよう

= Toranu tanuki no kawazanyou

(The literal meaning) Counting raccoon dog skins before they have been caught.
= Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. 


* 海老で鯛を釣る
= えびでたいをつる

= Ebi de tai wo tsuru
(The literal meaning) to fish sea bream with shrimp 

= Throw a sprat to catch a mackerel. / Throw a sprat to catch a whale. / 

to get big returns/benefits on a small investment/effort 


時間 = じかん = jikan = time 


* 時は金なり 

= ときはかねなり 

= toki wa kane nari 

= Time is money.


* 光陰矢の如し 

= こういんやのごとし 

= kouin ya no gotoshi 

= (Literal meaning) time flies like an arrow.

= Time flies 

Note: 如し ( = ごとし = gotoshi) means ~のようだ = ~ no you da ~ = like ~



= うん = un = luck


* 棚からぼた餅

= たなからぼたもち

= tana kara botamochi

(The literal meaning) Botamochi (rice cake covered with azuki bean paste) falls down from a shelf (into an open mouth)

 = having unexpected luck without making any effort /something valuable is given to sb without it having been requested/pennies from heaven


* 運を天に任せる

= うんをてんにまかせる

= Un wo ten ni makaseru

(The literal meaning) Leave one’s luck to heaven

= to leave something to chance 


好み = このみ = konomi = one’s tastes, preference / 趣味 = しゅみ = shumi= hobby, interests 


* 好きこそ物の上手なれ 

= すきこそもののじょうずなれ 

= suki koso mono no jouzu nare 

= What one likes, one will do well.


* 下手の横好き 

= へたのよこずき 

= heta no yokozuki
= Though you are not good at something but you love doing it.


* 花より団子 

= はなよりだんご 

= hana yori dango 

(The literal meaning) Dumplings rather than flowers.

= Bread is better than the songs of birds.


* 蓼食う虫も好き好き 

= だてくうむしもすきずき 

= date kuu mushi mo sukizuki 

(The literal meaning) some bugs prefer nettles.

= There’s no accounting for taste (some people like something while other people do not) 



= おに = oni = demon/ogre related proverbs: 


* 鬼に金棒 

= おににかなぼう 

= oni ni kanabou 

(The literal meaning) Demon with a metal rod/iron bar

(Demon is already strong but he even get a metal rod/iron bar) 

= to have a decisive advantage

* 鬼のいぬ間に洗濯 

= おにのいぬまにせんたく 

= oni no inu ma ni sentaku 

(The literal meaning) to do laundry while the demon is away

= When the cat’s away, the mice will play.


* 渡る世間に鬼はなし

= わたるせけんにおにはなし

= Wataru seken ni oni wa nashi

(The literal meaning) There are no demons in the world.

=There’s kindness to be found everywhere.

/ Not everyone is evil. There are always nice people out there.


* 鬼の目にも涙

= おにのめにもなみだ

= Oni no me ni mo namida

(The literal meaning) Even demons cry.

= Even the hardest heart can be moved to tears. 


* 鬼の首をとったよう

= おにのくびをとったよう

= Oni no kubi wo totta you

(The literal meaning) as if one grabbed a demon by the neck

= triumphantly/as happy as a king


* 来年のことを言うと鬼が笑う

= らいねんのことをいうとおにがわらう

= Rainen no koto wo iu to oni ga warau 

(The literal meaning) Talk about next year and the devil will laugh

= Nobody knows what may happen next year.


* 鬼が出るか蛇が出るか

= おにがでるかじゃがでるか

= Oni ga deru ka ja a ga deru ka

(The literal meaning) Whether a demon or a snake appears

= You never know what might happen.




* 飴と鞭  

= あめとうち 

= ame to uchi 

(The literal meaning) a candy and a whip 

= carrot and stick (reward and the threat of punishment)


* 一石二鳥 

= いっせきにちょう 

= isseki nichou

= Kill two birds with one stone.


* 絵に描いた餅

= えにかいたもち

= e ni kaita mochi

(The literal meaning) Mochi (rice cake) drawn in a picture

= pie in the sky (something unlikely to happen)


* 月とスッポン

= つきとスッポン

= Tsuki to suppon

(The literal meaning) The moon and a soft-shelled turtle

= to be as different as day and night. / There’s no comparison. / It’s apples and oranges.


* 灯台下暗し

= とうだいもとくらし

= Toudai motokurashi
(The literal meaning) It’s dark under the lighthouse. 

= It’s darkest under the lamp post. / It’s hard to see what is under your nose.


* どんぐりの背比べ
= どんぐりのせいくらべ

= Donguri no seikurabe
(The literal meaning) Height comparison among acorns.
= more or less the same/having very little difference
(You use it when you compare something where the difference is insignificant.) 


* 泣きっ面に蜂

= なきっつらにはち

= Nakittsura ni hachi

(The literal meaning) A bee-sting on a crying face

= It never rains but it pours. / Misfortunes seldom come singly. 


⭐️From the picture above:

= Sonna yarikata jaa “Nikai kara megusuri” dayo.

= The way you’re doing that is not effective at all.


= にかいからめぐすり

= Nikai kara megusuri

(The literal meaning) Applying eye drops from the second floor.

= ineffective (expressing one’s frustrating feelings when things don’t work effectively)


* 寝耳に水

= ねみみにみず

= nemimi ni mizu

(The literal meaning) Pouring water into one’s ear while one is sleeping

= a bolt from the blue・a complete surprise


* 瓢箪から駒が出る

= ひょうたんからこまがでる

= Hyoutan kara koma ga deru

(The literal meaning) A horse is emerging from a gourd.

= Sometimes things happen when you least expect.



マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

かっちゃん先生、ありがとう = Kacchan Sensei, Arigatou.


= Nikai kara megusuri wo sasu no wa taihen na koto da to omou kedo naa.

= I think dropping eye drops from the second floor is a big deal. 


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  1. •many proverbs don’t use の between verb and subject particle. Maybe it’s a short form of 方が?
    •然 しか 如かず しかず
    •あばた痘痕 えくぼ 笑窪 靨
    •老いる オイル 🛢️🫖🤖
    蓼 たで
    鞭 むち, 鞭毛 べんもう

    1. Hi アウベロン

      1) 方が→It depends on the sentence but you are right. You often see skipping particle in proverbs.
      2) 鬼 and 蛇 are both considered to be something scary.

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