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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.



適材適所
[てきざいてきしょ, dekizai tekisho)] the right person in the right place

鉄は熱い時に打て
[てつはあついときにうて, tetsu wa atsui toki ni ute] strike while the iron is hot (from the English expression)

寺の隣に鬼が住む
[てらのとなりにおにがすむ, tera no tonari ni oni ga sumu] next door to the temple live demons, the devil lurks behind the cross (i.e.: good and evil live nearby)

寺の門前に鬼が住む
[てらのもんぜんにおにがすむ, tera no monzen ni oni ga sumu] demons live in front of temple gats (i.e.: evil and good are nearby)

天下は天下の天下
[てんかはてんかのてんか, tenka wa tenka no tenka] the world is the world for the world (i.e.: the world does not exist for us, nor does it serve our needs or desires, and we have far less control over the world than we think we do)

転石苔をしょうせず
[てんせきこけをしょうせず, tenseki koke shousezu] a rolling stone gathers no moss

天に向かってつばをはく
[てんにむかってつばをはく, ten ni mukatte tsuba o haku] spit up at the heavens, to; who spits against heaven spits in his own face

泥中の蓮
[でいちゅうのはす, deichuu no hasu] a rose amid nettles (refers to a young woman who keeps her chastity despite moral turpitude around her)

できたことは仕方がない
[できたことはしかたがない, dekita koto wa shikata ga nai] what is done is done; what is done cannot be undone

出る杭が打たれる
[でるくいがうたれる, deru kui ga utareru] don't make waves; don't rock the boat, (lit.: the protruding peg gets pounded down) Used to indicate that being distinct, different, or obvious is not a good thing.

伝聞は実験にしかず
[でんぶんはじっけんにしかず, denbun wa jikken ni shikazu] sight goes before hearsay


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