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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.



来年のことをいうと鬼が笑う
[らいねんのことをいうとおにがわらう, rainen no koto o iu to oni ga warau] if you talk of next year, demons will laugh (i.e.: prediction is difficult, especially about the future, as Niels Bohr said)

楽あれば苦あり
[らくあればくあり, raku areaba ku ari] after pleasure comes pain; with pleasure comes pain (lit.: where there is pleasure, there is pain)

落書きに名筆なし
[らくがきにめいひつなし, rakugaki ni meihitsu nashi] a white wall is fool's paper (lit.: for scribbling or graffiti handwriting does not matter)

楽は苦の種、苦は楽の種
[らくはくのたね、くはらくのたね, raku ha ku no tane, ku wa raku no tane] pleasure is the seed of pain, pain is the seed of pleasure; rest comes from unrest, unrest from rest

落花枝にかえらず、破鏡再び照らさず
[らっかえだにかえらず、はっきょうふたたびてらさず, rakka eda ni kaerazu, hakkyou futatabi terasazu] fallen flowers do not return to their branches, a shattered mirror does not reflect again; things done cannot be undone (note that the second half of his proverb is often used after a wife has filed for a divorce)

落花狼藉
[らっかろうぜき, rakka rouzeki] utter disorder; a shambles (lit.; fallen flowers)

らっきょうを食って口を拭う
[らっきょうをくってくちをぬぐう, rakkyou o kutte kuchi o nuguu] feigning innocence (lit.: after eating leeks, wiping one's mouth)


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