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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.



空中楼閣
[くうちゅうろうかく, kuuchuu roukaku] castles in Spain (lit.: castles in the air)

臭い者見知らず
[くさいものみしらず, kusai mono mishirazu] a smelly person does not know he stinks

腐れ縄に馬をつなぐよう
[くされなわにうまをつなぐよう, kusare-nawa ni uma o tsunagu you] like hitching a horse with a rotten rope

腐れ縄も役に立つ
[くされなわもやくにたつ, kusarenawa mo yaku ni tatsu] everything has its use (lit.: even a rotten rope can be useful)

薬より養生
[くすりよりようじょう, kusuri yori youjou] prevention is better than cure (lit.: better than medicine is caring for one’s health)

口に甘きもの必ずしも腹を養わず
[くちにあまきものかならずしもはらをやしなわず, kuchi ni amaki mono kanarazu shimo hara o yashinawazu] sweet-tasting things do not necessarily nourish the body

口に税はかからぬ
[くちにぜいはかからぬ, kuchi ni zei ha kakaranu] be free to speak; talking pays no toll

口に蜜あり、腹に剣あり
[くちにみつあり、はらにけんあり, kuchi ni mitsu ari, hara ni ken ari] mouth of honey, heart of gall (lit.: honey in the mouth, a sword at the belly)

口は閉じ、目を開け
[くちはとじ、めをあけ, kuchi wa toji, me o ake] mouth shut and eyes open

唇の薄い者はよくしゃべる
[くちびるのうすいものはよくしゃべる, kuchibiru no usui mono wa yoku shaberu] a thin-lipped person talks a lot

国に盗人、家に鼠
[くににぬすびと、いえにねずみ, kuni ni nusubito, ie ni nezumi] no country or home is perfect (lit.: robbers in every country, rats in every home)

苦は楽しみの種
[くはたのしみのたね, ku wa tanoshimi no tane] pain is the seed of pleasure; no cross, no crown

苦は楽の種
[くはらくのたね, ku wa raku no tane] cares are the seeds of ease; no pain, no gain

苦労は身の毒
[くろうはみのどく, kurou wa mi no doku] anxieties are poison to a person; care will kill a cat

愚者も一得
[ぐしゃもいっとく, gusha mo ittoku] even an idiot has one merit, a fool may give a wise man counsel


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