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10 Fun Japanese Proverbs and Sayings

Every culture has some popular sayings that can paint an interesting picture when translated literally.

Here we have proverbs and sayings from Japan which sound humorous when translated into English. 



1)  鴨が葱をしょって来る- kamo ga negi o shotte kuru

Translation: “a duck comes by carrying a leek on its back”

Meaning: A lucky occurrence, a convenient event






2)  ほっぺたが落ちる- hoppeta ga ochiru

Translation: “my cheeks are falling off”

Meaning: This is tasty





3)  頭隠して尻隠さず- atama kakushite siri kakusazu

Translation: “hiding your head but not your butt”

Meaning: Failing to completely cover up something you did wrong





4)  李下に冠を正さず – rika ni kanmuri o tad asazu

Translation: “don’t straighten your crown

while under a plum tree”

Meaning: Avoid looking suspicious




5)  猫の首に鈴を付ける – neko no kubi ni suzu o tsukeru

Translation: “put a bell around the cat’s neck”

Meaning: Describing something that is nearly impossible to do




6)  毒食わば皿まで – doku kuwaba sara made

Translation: “if you eat poison, you should swallow the plate”

Meaning: If you’re going to do something you shouldn’t, you should enjoy it to its fullest extent





7)  亀の甲より年の功 – kame no kou yori toshi no kou

Translation: “the wisdom of age is better than the shell of a tortoise”

Meaning: Experience is better than education




8)  蓼食う虫も好き好き- tade kuu mushi mo sukizuki

Translation: “there are bugs that would eat that”

Meaning: Tastes differ/ to each their own



9)  知らぬが仏- shiranu ga hotoke

Translation: “not knowing is of Buddha”

Meaning: It is better not to know





10)  秋茄子は嫁に食わすな- akinasu wa yome ni kuwasuna

Translation: “don’t let your daughter-in-law

eat all the autumn eggplants”

Meaning: Don’t let people take advantage of you