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Japanese Proverbs

The Japanese language is filled with proverbs of all sorts, many from classical references from ancient Chinese to modern versions of English proverbs, all used in every aspect of the language. Whether you are traveling to Japan for fun or on business, or are living there, you'll find proverbs 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.

[えいゆうあいしる, eiyuu aishiru] like knows like (lit.: heroes know each other)

[えいゆういろをこのむ, eiyuu iro o konomu] heroes and great men are fond of sensual pleasures

[えいゆうならびたたず, eiyuu narabitatazu] a great man (or a hero) cannot brook a rival (lit.: heroes cannot side by side)

[えいゆうのまつろはときにあわれむべし, eiyuu no matsuro wa toki ni awaremubeshi] the last days of a hero are often to be pitied (i.e.: the final days of a hero are often miserable because they have lost their status and standing, and have been deserted by friends)

[えいゆうをしるものはえいゆうなり, eiyuu o shiro mono wa eiyuu nari] he who understands a hero is himself a hero

[えじきにどくなし, ejiki ni doku nashi] contant works all ambrosia (lit.: there is no poison in the food one eats with relish; i.e.: a man with a good appetite has nothing to fear)

[えせびしのかたないじり, esebishi no katana ijiri] an empty threat (lit.: a fake warrior or samurai playing with his sword)

[えだをためんとしてねをころす, eda o tamen to shite ne o korosu] burn not your house to frighten away the mice, to (lit.: as you try to straighten the branches you destroy the roots; i.e.: you may fail to fix a problem if you give too much attention to small matters or details)

[えてのほをあげ, ete no ho o age] give sail to dexterity, to; give scope to one's skill, to (lit.: hoist the sail of one's own forte)

[えどのかたきをながさきでうつ, Edo no kataki o Nagasaki de utsu] take revenge by an indirect method upon someone who wronged you (lit.: to strike in Nagasaki an enemy from Edo [now Tokyo])

[えにかいたぼたもちのよう, e ni kaita motamochi no you] a useless item or thing (lit.: like a sweet rice cake drawn in a picture; i.e.: you cannot eat it or give it to someone who needs food)

[えにかいたもちはくわれん, e ni kaita mochi wa kuwaren] you cannot eat a rice cake in a picture

[えびおどれどもかわをいでず, ebi odoredomo kawa o idezu] let the cobbler stick to his last; do what you know; do not exceed your level of competence (lit.: although shrimp may dance, they do not leave their river)

[えやすくものはうしないやすし, eyasuku mono wa ushinaiyasushi] easy come, easy go (lit.: things easily gotten are easily lost)

[えらんでかすをつかむ, erande kamo o tsumamu] go farther and fare worse (lit.: grasp the refuse after choosing [too] carefully; i.e.: take care, but not too much care, when trying to decide which option is best)

[えんこうすいげつをとろう, enkousuigetsu o torou] do something foolish and dangerous, to (lit.: a monkey trying to catch the [reflection of the] moon in the water)

[えんじゃのしょうこ, enha no shouko] relatives and friends cannot be trusted as witnesses (lit.: the evidence of relatives or people with ties to you)

[えんすいきんかをすくわず, ensui kinka o sukuwazu] water afar does not quench a fire at hand (i.e.: what is not right at hand is not useful in an emergency)

[えんとつきひはすえをまて, en to tsukihi wa sue o mate] marry in haste, repent at leisure (lit.: wait for the last moment when it comes to marriage and time; that is to say, be cautious and careful in matters of the heart, and wait for the righ time to marry)

[えんのしたのそいじ, en no shita no souji] a vain effort (lit.: cleaning under the veranda)

[えんのしたのたけのこ, en no shita no take no ko] a mediocre person who cannot become famous despite considerable effort (lit.: a bamboo shoot under a veranda)

[えんのしたのちからもち, en no shita no chikara-mochi] wasted effort; thankless labor (lit.: a poweful man [sitting] under a veranda; i.e.: someone who tries to help but whose effort is unappreciated)

[えんのしたのまい, en no shita no mai] a thankless task (lit.: a dance under a veranda; i.e. to do something in vain, or without being recognized or appreciated)

[えんりょひだるい、だてさむし, enryou hidaruishi, date samushi] a bashful dog never gets fats (lit.: being reserved makes one hungry, and being a showoff makes one cold)

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