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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.



性格は変わらぬ
[せいかくはかわらぬ, seikaku wa kawaranu] personality (character) does not change (n.b.: although this is an ancient adage, modern psychologicla and pyschiatric research confirms this idea: basic personality traits are stable through life)

晴耕雨読
[せいこうどく, seiko udoku] do what you should under the circumstances (lit.: farm when the weather is clear, read when it is raining)

聖人夢なし
[せいじんゆめなし, seijin yume nashi] holy men sleep without dreaming

晴天の霹靂
[せいてんのへきれき, seiten no hekireki] a bolt from the blue; a sudden shock; a complete surprise (lit.: a thunderclap from a clear blue sky)

積悪の家に余殃あり
[せきあくのいえによおうあり, sekiaku no iue ni yoou ari] a wicked family has many misfortunes

世間は世間さ
[せけんはせけんさ, seken wa seken sa] let the world go as it may; let people talk and dogs bark (lit.: the world is the world)

千里の道も一歩よりす
[せんりのみちもいっぽよりす, zenri no michi mo ippo yorisu] a journey of a thousand “ri” starts with one step (a "ri" is roughly 2.44 miles)

銭金は沸きもの
[ぜにかねはわきもの, zeni kane wa wakimono] money quicky flows away

善なるものかならず美ならず
[ぜんなるものかならずびならず, zen naru mono kanarazu bi narazu] what is good is not necessarily beautiful (i.e.: there is no inherent connection between goodness and beauty; one should be careful not to be tempted by something or someone beautiful)

善は急げ
[ぜんはいそげ, zen wa isoge] hasten to do good


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