We all know the classic English proverbs, “When in Rome,” “The pen is mightier than the sword,” “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” These are all things our mums and dads used to preach to us as kids. Proverbs hold infinite wisdom that can transcend the boundaries of location and can translate into many different languages, Japanese is certainly no exception.
Wouldn’t it be cool to know a few of these in Japanese? Sure it would! So let’s dive right in.
Kotowaza, in Japanese
Kotowaza, in Japanese, means proverb. So which Kotowaza ことわざ shall we take a look at first?
Are you a morning person like me? If so, this is the proverb for you.
“The early bird catchers the worm”
Haya oki wa san mon to toku
Here is a great proverb for when you mess up! I use this all the time.
“Even monkeys fall from trees”
Saru mo ki kara ochiru
If you are someone who enjoys the more practical way of life then this Kotowaza is for you. You certainly wouldn’t find Kim Kardashian using this proverb as it is for people who enjoy things that have substance over show.
In other words, you would prefer a book to learn from over a new expensive watch to show off.
Dumplings over roses
Hana yori dango
Usually Japanese people are quite surprised when foreigners use kotowaza, so it’s always fun to see their reactions. Get out there and start impressing your Japanese friends with your profound wisdom.