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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.



能ある鷹爪を隠す
[のうあるたかつめをかくす, nou aru taka tsume o kakusu] the capable hawk hides his claws; a talented person is modest

能書筆を選ばず
[のうしょふでをえらばず, nousho fude o erabazu] a good calligrapher is not picky about his brush (i.e.: skill and talent are more important than tools)

脳なき犬の高吠え
[のうなきいぬのたかぼえ, nou naki inu no takaboe] the loud barking of a brainless dog (i.e.: people who don't know what they're doing talk a lot, and those that do know say little)

望むならまず備えよ
[のぞむならまずそなえよ, nozomu nara mazu sonaeyo] if you desire something, first prepare for it (n.b.: this is close to the idea in English of "be careful of what you ask for because you just might get it")

後の千金
[のちのせんきん, nochi no senkin] belated relief (lit.: a thousand gold pieces later)

咽喉元すぐれば熱さを忘れる
[のどもとすぐればあつさをわすれる, nodomoto sugureba atsusa o wasureru] vows made in storms are forgotten in calms (lit.: after the heat [of an arguent] has passed the throat, it is forgotten)

飲まぬ酒には酔わぬ
[のまぬさけにはよわぬ, nomanu sake niwa yowanu] you can’t get drunk on wine you don’t drink

呪いは我が身にかえる
[のろいはわがみにかえる, noroi wa wagami ni kaeru] curses come back to haunt you


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