Japanese Proverbs


water on burning rock
yake ishi ni mizu

Pour some water on the lava, it would do nothing.
This is what we call in Japanese

“yake ishi ni mizu” = water on burning rock/s,

which means something useless or futile, fruitless.

From country to country, language to language, we often focus on different aspects of things to describe them. Knowing them might help you learn more about the country and its people.

Here are some examples of famous remarks we have in Japanese.

目次 (Mokuji) Table of contents

Should you ever have any trouble translating JP ⇔ EN, our dictionary might help.

How to read this page
あOriginal Japanese expression
EEnglish translation
吹き出しのアイコン15 (2)Pronunciation
クエスチョンマーク (2)Notes

Also, if ever you have trouble understanding Japanese expressions or words in this content, kindly visit our site: weblio dictionary.

Now lets begin!

An unsung hero
someone who does not get credit for doing something important
en no shita no chikara mochi
“en” = floor, “shita” = below, “chikara mochi” = someone strong.
So it means that we describe someone who does something important is like holding a house/building underneath the floor without being seen.

A story of Japanese society
A nail that sticks out gets hammered in
deru kui ha utareru
“deru” = sticks out, “kui” = nail or pile
Well, I believe many Japanese don’t really want to stick out of their groups and some people use this expression in a good sense. They want to stay together, look and behave in the same way, so they won’t get kicked out of their community.

They say this everywhere in the world
Time is money.
toki ha kane nari
“toki” = time, “kane” = money or gold
Trains and buses that don’t get late for 1 min, you are supposed to be in a meeting or party at least 5 mins before.

Most girls are like…
play the hypocrite, pretend to be someone nicer
neko wo kaburu
“kaburu” = to wear
When directly translated, this one would be like “wearing cat’s hide.” If you are a girl and pretending to be cuter in front of a man you like than usual, then you are wearing cat’s hide.

Because they are not usually very helpful
(A man) wants to borrow a cat’s hand
neko no temo karitai
Imagine that you are extremely busy and you definitely need someone’s help. Perhaps you are already availing someone’s help but you are still busy. If you are in that situation, you may want to borrow a cat’s hand knowing the cat might end up messing with your work.

They don’t see why
Gold for a cat
Buddhism prayer to a horse
Pearl for a pig
neko ni koban
uma no mimi ni nenbutsu
buta ni shinju
They all stand for “something useless” while those animals don’t understand how and why those items are important or precious.

I wish
Two blessings at once.
ryoute ni hana
“ryoute” = both hands, “hana” = flower
Often this expression is used to mean a guy who has two or more girlfriends at the same time. Me? I have myself ;(

They are alcoholic
Dumplings rather than flowers
hana yori danngo
“dango” = dumplings “hana” = flower
During spring season, they often enjoy “hanami,” a form of party that takes place under trees of cherry blossoms. While the parties literally means “flower seeing,” but they have something better to do; drinking.

Well, how did you like the contents this time?

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