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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.



昔のことは水に流せ
[むかしのことはみずにながせ, mukashi no koto wa mizu ni nagase] let bygones be bygones (lit.: let old things drift away on the water)

百足は死んでも倒れぬ
[むかでがしんでもたおれぬ, mukade wa shindemo taorenu] a centipede will not topple over even when dead (i.e.: it has the support of many legs, and so by extension, a person with many friends and relatives will not fail utterly)

無芸大食
[むげいたいしょく, mugei taishoku] a lazy glutton; good-for-nothing glutton (lit.: no ability, great appetite)

虫一匹殺したことがない
[むしいっぴきころしたことがない, mushi ippiki koroshita koto ga nai] he has never harmed a bug; a guileless and kindly person

虫がつく
[むしがつく, mushi ga tsuku] describes a girl whose character has been damaged by having a secret lover

狢の穴で狐をとる
[むじなのあなできつねをとる, mujina no ana de kitsune o toru] catch a fox in the hole of a badger; birds of a feather flock together (i.e.: people of similar character associate)

娘見るより母を見よ
[むすめみるよりははをみよ, musume miru yori haha o miyo] like mother, like daughter (look at the mother rather than the daughter)

無駄なければ、不足なし
[むだなければ、ふそくなし, muda nakereba, fusoku nashi] waste not, want not

無用の長物
[むようのちょうぶつ, muyou no choubutsu] a useless thing, a white elephant (lit.: a useless long object)


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