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Proverbs. Here are a few Japanese proverbs[1]:—

Proof rather than argument.

Dumplings rather than blossoms.

Breeding rather than birth.

A mended lid to a cracked pot. (An assemblage of incapables for instance, a drunken husband and a silly wife.)

A cheap purchase is money lost.

A bee stinging a weeping face. (One misfortune on the top of another.)

Cows herd with cows, horses with horses. (Birds of a feather flock together?)

Not to know is to be a Buddha. (Ignorance is bliss.)

A man's heart and an autumn sky (are alike fickle). The exact converse of the famous "Souvent femme varie."

Hate the priest, and you will hate his very hood.

Never trust a woman, even if she has borne you seven children.

The acolyte at the gate reads scriptures which he has never learnt.

Excessive tenderness turns to hundred-fold hatred.

To lose is to win.

Ten men, ten minds. (Literally, "ten men, ten bellies" the mental faculties being, according to popular belief, located in the abdomen.)

When folly passes by, reason draws back.

The drunkard belies not his true character. (In vino veritas.)

A physician breaking the rules of health. (To preach and not to practise.)

Amateur tactics cause grave wounds. (A little learning is a dangerous thing.)

Lazy boots working on a holiday. (Useless show in lieu of quiet perseverance in good.)

Book Recommended. Japanische Sprichwörter, by P. Ehmann, Supplement to the "German Asiatic Transactions" for 1897-8.


  1. Some persons may like to see the Japanese originals of these proverbs, which are given in the same order as that of the English renderings above:

    Ron yori shōko.
    Hana yori dango.
    Uji yori sodachi.
    Ware-nabe ni toji-buta.
    Yasu-mono-kai no zeni ushinai.
    Naki-tsura wo hachi ga sasu.
    Ushi wa ushi-zure, uma wa, uma-zure.
    Shiranu ga Hotoke.
    Otoko no kokoro to aki no sora.
    Bōzu go, nikukereba, kesa made nikui.
    Shichi-nin no ko wo nasu to mo, onna ni kokoro wo yurusa-na.
    Monzen no kozō narawanu kyō wo yomu.
    Kawaisa amatte, nikusa ga hyaku-bai.
    Makeru ga kachi.
    Jū-nin to-hara.
    Muri ga tōreba, dōri hikkomu.
    Nama-yoi honshō tagawazu.
    Isha, no fu-yōjō.
    Nama-byōhō ōkizu no moto.
    Namake-mono no sekku-bataraki.