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.
[ねこがかおをあらうとあめがふる, neko ga kao o arau to ame ga furu] when a cat washes its face, it will rain
[ねこにかつおぶしをあずけるよう, neko ni katsuobushi o azukeru you] like having a cat guard dried bonito; like letting the fox guard the henhouse
[ねこにかんぶくろをかぶせたよう, neko ni kanbukuro o kabuseta you] be suspicious and afraid, to (lit:. like a cat with its head covered in a paper bag)
[ねこにこばん, neko ni koban] pearls before swine (lit.: gold coins [koban] before cats; n.b.: cats were not much appreciated in pre-modern Japan).
[ねこにねんぶつ、うまにぜに, neko ni nenbutsu, uma ni zeni] Buddhist prayers to a cat, money to a horse (useless, wasted effort)
[ねこのてもかりたい, neko no te mo karitai] be very busy
[ねこよりましだ, neko yori mashi da] it’s better than nothing (lit.: it’s better than a cat)
[ねこをかぶる, neko o kaburu] put on a show, to; to fake
[ねこをころせばしちだいたたる, neko o koroseba, shichidai tataru] kill a cat and it will haunt you and your family for seven generations
[ねじりがまにねじりぶた, nejirigama ni nejiributa] like goes with like (lit.: a crooked top on a crooked kettle)
[ねっしやすいものはへいやすい, nesshi yasui mono wa heiyasui] soon hot, soon cold (lit.: what is easily heated is easily chilled; n.b.: this applies to people, including romance, and things)
[ねてまはごくらく, nete ma wa gokuraku] the time of sleep is paradise (i.e.: the time when we are awake is difficult, even hellish)
[ねんにはねんをいれ, nen niwa nen o ire] one cannot be too careful