These Japanese proverbs may sound funny, but in every language there are certain sayings that just don’t translate quite right! Here we have collected 22 of the funniest Japanese proverbs, but they each have very real lessons to teach! At the bottom of this post we have collected some familiar English sayings…can you match up the English to the Japanese? Remember, not every Japanese saying has an English equivalent!
“There is no use scrunching up your buttocks after a fart.”
“When eating poison, you may as well lick the plate.”
ばか は しな なきゃ なおら ない。
“Unless an idiot dies, he can never be cured.”
“A man in love mistakes a pimple for a dimple.”
じんせい は たのしい こと ばかり で は ない。
“Life’s not all beer and skittles.”
“A padded jacket is an acceptable gift, even in summer.”
あたま かくし て しり かくさす ゙
“Hide your head but not the buttocks.”
さる も き から おちる
“Even monkeys fall from trees”
“Too many boatmen will bring a boat up a mountain.”
“The bean paste that smells like bean paste is not the best quality.”
けぶかい もの は いろ ふかい
“A hairy person is sexy.”
**We couldn’t confirm that this was a real saying in Japanese…has anyone heard this before???
つめ の あか を せんじ て のむ
“Boil and drink another’s fingernail dirt.”
“It’s no good trying to bite your navel.”
あさ つめ を きれ ば ひ に はじ を か
“If you trim your nails in the morning, you will be put to shame that day.”
**This is not a saying, but rather a very old superstition.
“A bean-jam cake [falling] into an open mouth”
あき なすび は よめ に くわす な
“Do not let your daughter-in-law eat autumn eggplants”
あした の こと を いう と てんじょう の ねずみ が わらう
“If you speak of tomorrow, the rats in the ceiling will laugh”
まご に も いしょう
“Even a packhorse driver looks fine in proper dress.”
ひざ とも だんごう
“Consult anyone, even your knees.”
“Relations between a dog and a monkey.”
“Roast bean paste on wooden clogs.”
a. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
b. Too many cooks spoil the broth.
c. All that glitters is not gold.
d. Two heads are better than one.
e. Follow in someone’s footsteps.
f. No use shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.
g. Cut off your nose to spite your face.
h. Clothes make the man.
i. Love is blind.
j. Bury your head in the sand.
k. In for a penny, in for a pound.
l. No one knows what tomorrow will bring.
m. A fool’s errand.
n. Once a fool, always a fool.
o. Anyone can make a mistake.
Can you think of an English equivalent we missed? Let us know what you think each saying means in the comments!!