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Japanese Proverb List and English Translation 日本のことわざ・格言 1 of 2

Let 's learn Japanese proverbs that frequently come up in conversation or presentations. An English equivalent proverb is listed when identified, otherwise a translation.


Japanese proverbsTranslation/EquivalentLiteral translation/remarks
宝(たから)の持(も)ち腐(ぐさ)れA book that remains shut is but a block. Rotting treasure.
まさかの時(とき)の友(とも)こそ真(しん)の友A friend in need is a friend indeed.
八方美人(はっぽうびじん)A friend to all is a friend to none.Beauty eight directions.
良薬(りょうやく)は口(くち)に苦(にが)しA good medicine tastes bitter.
始(はじ)めが肝心(かんじん) A good start makes a good ending.
千里(せんり)の道(みち)も一歩(いっぽ)から A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Rome was not built in a day.
エビで鯛(たい)を釣(つ)る A little bait catches a large fish. Catching a sea bream with a shrimp.
終(お)わりよければすべてよし。All is well that ends well.
三度目(さんどめ)の正直(しょうじき)All things thrive at thrice. Honesty at the third time.
無(な)い袖(そで)は振(ふ)れぬA man cannot give what he hasn't got.Can't swing a sleeve of sleeveless.
蛇(じゃ)の道(みち)は蛇(へび)An old poacher makes the best keeper. Snake road is for snake.
案(あん)ずるより、生(う)むが易(やす)しAn ear is often greater than the danger. Bearing is easier than worrying.
枯(か)れ木(き)も山(やま)のにぎわいAnything is better than nothing.Dead trees also decorate a mountain.
一を聞(き)いて、十を知(し)るA word is enough to a wise man.Know ten by hearing one.
衣(ころも)の下に鎧(よろい)。Bait hides the hook.armour under clothing
美貌(びぼう)はただ皮一重(かわひとえ)。Beauty is but only skin deep.
類(るい)は友(とも)を呼(よ)ぶBirds of a feather flock together.A kind invites friends.
血(ち)は水(みず)よりも濃(こ)い。Blood is thicker than water.
歯(は)に衣着(きぬき)せぬ Call a spade a spade.Not clothed teeth.
病(やまい)は気(き)から Care killed a cat. ki, life energy, causes an illness.
背(せ)に腹(はら)は代(か)えられないClose is my shirt, but closer is my skin.A back can't substitutes a belly.
苦(くる)しいときの神頼(かみだの)みDanger past, God forgotten.
一番暗(いちばんくら)いのは夜明(よあ)け前(まえ)。Darkest hour is that before the dawn.
死人(しにん)に口なし。Dead men tell no tales.A dead man has no mouth.
不言実行(ふげんじっこう)。Deeds, not words.
窮鼠(きゅうそ)猫(ねこ)を噛(か)むDespair gives courage to a coward. A stag at bay is a dangerous foeThe cornered mouse attachs a cat.
言われているほど悪(わる)くない。Devil is not so black as he is painted.It is not so bad as said.
賽(さい)はすでに投(な)げられた。Die is cast.
猫(ねこ)に小判(こばん)Do not cast pearls before swine.A gold coin for a cat.
獲(と)らぬ狸(たぬき)の皮算用(かわざんにょう)。Do not count your chikens before they are hatched.Counting the hides of raccoon dogs not caught.
盗人(ぬすっと)にも仁義(じんぎ)。Dog does not eat dog.Thief with a code of conduct
溺(おぼ)れる者(もの)は藁(わら)をもつかむ。Drowning man will catch at a straw.
早起(はやお)き三文(さんもん)の得(とく)Early bird catches the worm.Early raiser gains three more cents.
言うは易(やす)く行(おこな)うは難(がた)し。Easier said than done.
悪銭身(あくせんみ)につかず。Easy come, easy go.Bad money does not stay.
嘘(うそ)も方便(ほうべん)End justifies the means.A lying is an expedient.
一寸(いっすん)の虫(むし)にも五分(ごぶ)の魂(たましい)Even a worm will turn.
餅(もち)は餅屋(もちや) Every man does his own business best. Rice cake maker's rice cake.
親(した)しき中(なか)に礼儀(れいぎ)あり。Familiarity breeds contempt.courtesy exists among friends.
馬子(まご)にも衣装(いしょう)。Fine feathers make fine birds.Horse driver with costume
飛(と)んで火(ひ)に入る夏(なつ)の虫(むし) Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Summer bugs flying into fire.
災(わざわ)い転(てん)じて福(ふく)となる Good comes out of evil.
大器晩成(たいきばんせい) Great oaks from little acorns grow.A big thing matures in the last stage.
せいては事(こと)を仕損(しそん)じる。Haste makes waste.Haste makes you fail.
若(わか)いときの苦労(くろう)は買(か)ってでもせよ Heavy work in youth is quiet rest in old age. Toil in youth even if you have to buy it.

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