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Short proverbs

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Japanese proverbs or Kotowaza

Japanese proverbs or kotowaza are often expressed in short form within 4 Kanji characters (or yojijukugo) or 5 Kanji characters.

These can sometimes be further shortened to just two characters when the other person understands the meaning or context, thus making them a profound and succinct method of expression in spoken Japanese.

JOI teacher, Chiharu Takase introduces 3 of the more popular proverbs for your learning pleasure !

Short proverbs


By TAKASE Chiharu







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Short proverbs

Today I am going to introduce three Japanese language proverbs to you. They are 5 character and 6 character proverbs.

"Toki ni kane nari" (literal translation: Time is money)

It means that when time goes past, it cannot be brought back and is as important as money, so we shouldn't waste it and try to use time effectively. What do you think of this sentiment ? I guess a lot of people feel that, "That is exactly right !"

"Hana yori dango" (literal translation: dumplings are better than flowers)

This means when you go Cherry Blossom viewing, the delicious dumplings that you eat there make you feel better than looking at the flower blossoms, or in other words, reality is better than appearance. Young people often feel hungry, so I guess they feel "of course dumplings are the better choice!" I am also the type of person who chooses to take dumplings instead.

""Makeru ga kachi"(literal translation: to lose is to win)

By letting someone else win instead of fighting over something, when seen in the long term, means that it ends up giving you a advantageous result. So even though one hates to lose, "rather than causing trouble, let me just endure this loss", is the kind of sentiment that makes one an adult isn't it? What do you think of these short proverbs ? Which one makes you say, "I see" in agreement ?

無駄 waste

ぼうっと (on-mim) doing nothing; being stupefied

ためになる to be of benefit; to be useful

しいて by force

屈する to yield; to give in

Konnichi-wa, everybody. Hajimemashite. My name is Chiharu Takase.
I was born in the spring, that's why my parents decided to include the the Kanji for spring (haru) in my name. My hometown is in Yamaguchi prefecture on the western coast of Honshu, but now I live in Kyoto, one of Japan's early capital cities. I'm married with one son, and my hobby is the Japanese tea ceremony.

Learning a new language, including Japanese, can be tough at first, but once you start comprehending the patterns and rhythm, you'll find that there is nothing more interesting. Do what you can, when you can, and enjoy the challenge. I'm really looking forward to meeting you in our online Japanese classroom. Let's spend an enjoyable 50 minutes together. Dozo yoroshiku onegai-shimasu.

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  • Yomuzoku Monday, 18 July 2016

    Hello Takase,

    Thanks for updating us.
    These short Japanese proverbs and weekly vocabulary are useful. We have Japanese vocabulary in our online Japanese course - Yomuzoku.


  • マーク Friday, 22 July 2016

    好きなことわざは「負けるが勝ち」そのことわざは賢「かしこい」です。その通り! :p

  • Takase Friday, 29 July 2016

    「時は金なり」は どこの国にもあるんですね。

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