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Learning Japanese


格言・慣用句

Japanese Proverbs & Sayings




Last update January 5, 2020

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A proverb or saying is an epitome of our predecessors' wisdom analogized to culturally distinctive things such as animals, plants, foods, customs and so on, often laced with a bit of humor, irony, and love. Here, you can find many interesting Japanese proverbs and cliches, with their literal and practical meanings, phrasal anatomy and pronunciation.

Arranged by Meaning

Click the following titles to find the corresponding Japanese proverb.

  Each expression has a link to a text-to-speech sample. But please disregard the text shown on the linked page. The Japanese text is tweaked to produce more natural-sounding voice, and the corresponding translation may be wrong (since it's a machine translation). You can also use this site (You need to input the text).

Bad news runs 4 km.

Ill money soon leaves you.

(a quick job) before breakfast

Tomorrow's wind blows differently.

Take today's fifty instead of tomorrow's hundred.

Burnt the tongue with hot soup once, one will blow cold salad.

after the festival (it's too late)

calm (lull) before the storm

Easy said and hard done.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

Detour (Go around) when in a hurry.

When one trouble's gone, another comes.

kill two birds with one stone

Telling a lie can also be a useful method.

A crow pretends to be a cormorant (and dives).

sutra chanting for horse ears

Gossip brings the shadow of the person being gossiped.

a rice cake drawn in a painting

badgers of the same sett

Do laundry while the devil is away.

A drowning man will clutch at a straw.

A decision is always made on a lucky day.

If a child is like this, so is his/her parent.

shone by one's parent's seven lights

return evil for good