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Japanese Idioms





The Japanese language is filled with idioms of all sorts, from classical references from ancient Chinese to modern colloquialisms used by college students and young salaryman. Whether you are traveling to Japan for fun or on business, or are living there, you'll find idioms indispensible to understanding and using the daily language. Browse below to find the ones you want or simply explore the many possible ways to express yourself in Japanese.



ザーザー降る
[ざーざーふる, zaa zaa furu] rain cats and dogs; rain violently

最後っ屁
[さいごっぺ, itachi no saigoppe] a final defense when one is cornered (lit.: the last fart)

才子短命
[さいしたんめい, saishi tanmei] talented people don’t live long; whom the gods love die young; bright stars burn fast

魚にする
[さかなにする, sakana ni suru] make fun of; make a fool of

盛りのついた猫
[さかりのついたねこ, sakari no tsuita neko] noisy lovers; promiscuous woman (lit.: a cat in heat)

猿真似
[さるまね, saru-mane] imitator; blind follower (lit.: monkey imitator)

猿真似人間
[さるまねにんげん, saru-mane ningen] imitator; blind follower (lit.: monkey imitator)

三猿主義
[さんえんしゅぎ, san-en shugi] person who wants nothing to do with anything unpleasant or difficult (from mizaru, iwazaru, kikazaru)

3K
[さんけー, san kee] kiken, kitsui, kitanai

三高
[さんこう, san-kou] three highs

三途の川の渡り金
[さんずのかわのわたりきん, sanzu no kawa no watari-kin] fee for crossing the River Styx

山川草木
[さんせんそうもく, sansen soumoku] mountains, rivers, grass, and trees

残念ながら
ざんねんながら, zannen nagara] unfortunately

三枚目
[さんまいめ, sanmaime] fun-loving (based on the Kabuki system of ranking characters)


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