Japanese Idioms & Sayings 2

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Idioms can be hard to understand, but they will give you great insight into Japanese culture and thinking. Check out some these most common ことわざ (kotowaza), and take the quiz!

Japanese Idioms & Phrases 2 Quiz!

Before you take the test, lets study some new idioms




蛙の子は蛙
(kaeruno kowa kaeru)
A frog's child is a frog

frog's child is a frog

This implies like child, like parent; what else do you expect a frog's child to be?

雉も鳴かずば撃たれまい
(kijimo nakazuba utaremai)
The pheasant wouldn't have been shot if it didn't cry

pheasant wouldn't have been shot if it didn't cry

Perhaps if the pheasant didn't cry, the hunter wouldn't have shot it and avoided death. This phrase is used when something you say backfires.

猫に小判
(neko ni koban)
Gold coin to a cat

Implies someone with something they don't understand the value for.

豚に真珠
(butani shinju)
Pearl to a pig

Pearl to a pig

Also implies someone with something they don't understand the value for.

猫の手も借りたい
(nekono temo karitai)
Would borrow a cat’s hand

Would borrow a cat’s hand

If the next best help you can get is from a cat, you are probably very busy and need some help.

猿も木から落ちる
(saru mo kikara ochiru)
Even monkeys fall from trees

Even monkeys fall from trees

Even monkeys fall from trees is something along the lines of everyone makes mistakes

河童の川流れ
(kappa no kawanagare)
A drowning kappa

A drowning kappa

Even professionals can fail. 河童 (Kappa) is a mythological Japanese creature, known to live by rivers, and loves to eat cucumbers. You wouldn't expect both a monkey to fall from a tree, or the water creature to drown in its own river, but it happens.

石の上にも三年
(ishino uenimo sannen)
Three years on top of a rock

Three years on top of a rock

If you're sitting on top of a rock for three years, you will eventually learn patience. This phrase implies that patience and diligence will pay off.

急がば回れ
(isogaba maware)
Go around instead of hurrying

go around instead of hurrying

急がば回れ is telling us to take the long, yet more sure route, rather than the quicker, but riskier route.

江戸の敵を長崎で討つ
(edono katakiwo nagasakide utsu)
To avenge Edo in Nagasaki

To avenge Edo in Nagasaki

It is said that long time ago, a freak show in Osaka became popular through a freak show in Tokyo. But later, a freak show in Nagasaki became more popular through the expense of the freak show in Osaka. Therefore, you are getting revenge at an unexpected setting.