Here is some of popular proverbs people in Japan still use in daily conversations. If you know these proverbs, not only you can enjoy conversation but also you will be getting respect immediately. So, let’s learn Japanese Proverbs.
Atarazu to iedomo tokarazu.
It was not wide of the mark, though it did not hit it.
This expression from a passage in one of the Chinese classics is often used as a comment on a remark which comes very near the truth.
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A to no matsuri.
After the festival.
This is a Japanese equivalent of such English proverbs as “A day after the fair,” “After meat, mustard” and “After death, the doctor.” Another proverb says: “Sorei sunde no isha-banashi” (After the funeral, the talk of a doctor). Yet another synonymous saying is: Muika no ayame, toka no kiku” which literally means “Irises on the sixth day; chrysanthemums on the tenth day.” Yet another proverb has: “A fire-engine after the fire.”
Atsui samui mo higan made.
Neither heat nor cold will last after the equinox.
From their age-long experience the Japanese people know for a fact that in this part of the northern hem¬isphere the spring equinox pretty well marks the end of biting wind and cold; and the autumnal equinox, that of heat and humidity. When the equinox is just around the corner, this proverb often finds itself on the lips of Japanese who thereby express a feeling of relief that the severity of heat or cold, as the case may be, will soon be over.
Atsumono ni korite namasu o fuku.
He who has found broth too hot will blow vinegared food to cool it.
The English equivalents of this proverb of Chinese origin are, of course, “A burnt child dreads the fire,” “Once bit, twice shy,” “A scalded cat (dog) dreads cold water,” and “He that has been bitten by a serpent is afraid of a rope.” “Atsumono” (literally “hot thing”) is hot soup and “namasu” (lit. “raw and vinegar”) is raw fish and vegetables seasoned in vinegar and is always served cold—both are typical dishes in a Japanese meal.
Au wa wakare no hajimari.
Meeting is the beginning of parting.
This is a saying of Buddhist origin. When we meet, we must part. “To meet, to know, to love—and then to part, is the sad tale of many a human heart.” —Coleridge.
Baka ni tsukeru kusuri nashi.
There is no medicine for a fool.
In the East, as in the West, fools are considered past cure. “He who is born a fool is never cured.” Of a person who, lacking initiative, does not go further than harping on the same string, Japanese say his is a case of “A fool remembering one thing, and one thing only” (Baka no hitotsu oboe).
Baka to hasami wa tsukaiyd.
Fools, like scissors, will work; only it depends on how they are used.
Just as most scissors will cut well when handled properly, so even fools may be turned to account if you know how to handle them. A Japanese often uses this proverb not only by way of a derisive comment on a person who is so clumsy with his hands that he can not handle scissors properly, but also in reference to the adroitness with which an apparently useless person may be employed profitably. “A fool may give a wise man counsel/ “Praise a fool and you water his folly/’
Bimbonin no kodakusan.
The poor (bimbonin) have many children.
This truism applies especially to the lower class people of an over-populated country. Poor people often have a large family. Compare this with the iroha-card proverb: Richigi mono no kodakusan (An honest and hard-working man has many children). “Nature, very oddly, when the horn of plenty is quite empty, fills it with babies.” —Walter Besant.
Bon to shogatsu ga issho ni kitayo.
As if the Bon Festival and New Year’s Day were come together.
The Bon Festival, known also as the Feast of Lanterns, is a Buddhist fete celebrated in midsummer. On the face of it, the expression may give the impression of being synonymous with “to the Greek Calends,” but its original meaning is “as busy as busy can be.” One would be extremely busy if one were to prepare for the two great annual celebrations at the same time. But this expression is also used, and not infrequently, to denote the coming of one happy thing on the heels of another, making a person feel as delighted, we might say, as if Christmas and one’s birthday were rolled into one.
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[More Japanese Proverbs]
“Abata mo ekubo” “Aita kuchi ga fusagaranai” “Akete kuyashii tamate bako”
“Atarazu to iedomo tokarazu” “A to no matsuri” “Atsui samui mo higan made”
TOURIST LIBRARY 20 Japanese Proverbs And Proverbial Phrases
Written by Rokuo Okada
Published by JAPAN TRAVEL BUREAU 1955