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!


japanese proverbs farts

1. 屁を放って尻つぼめ

“There is no use scrunching up your buttocks after a fart.”


japanese proverb poison

2. 毒を食わらば皿まで

“When eating poison, you may as well lick the plate.”

japanese proverb idiot

3. 馬鹿は死ななきゃ治らない。

ばか は しな なきゃ なおら ない。
“Unless an idiot dies, he can never be cured.”

japanese proverb pimple

4. あばたもえくぼ

“A man in love mistakes a pimple for a dimple.”

japanese saying beer skittles

5. 人生は楽しいことばかりではない。

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.”

Japanese saying gift horse

6. 戴くものは夏も小袖

“A padded jacket is an acceptable gift, even in summer.”

japanese proverbs

7. 頭隠して尻隠さず

あたま かくし て しり かくさす ゙
“Hide your head but not the buttocks.”

japanese proverb monkeys

8. 猿も木から落ちる

さる も き から おちる
“Even monkeys fall from trees”

japanese saying too many cooks

9. 船頭多くして船山に登る

“Too many boatmen will bring a boat up a mountain.”

japanese proverbs

10. 味噌の味噌臭いは上味噌にあらず

“The bean paste that smells like bean paste is not the best quality.”

japanese saying hairy is sexy

11. 毛深い者は色深い

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???

japanese proverb

12. 爪の垢を煎じて飲む

つめ の あか を せんじ て のむ
“Boil and drink another’s fingernail dirt.”

japanese saying bite belly button

13. 臍を噛む

“It’s no good trying to bite your navel.”


14. 朝爪を切れば日に恥をかく

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.

japanese proverbs bean cake

15. 空いた口に牡丹餅

“A bean-jam cake [falling] into an open mouth”

japanese saying autumn eggplants

16. 秋茄子は嫁に食わすな

あき なすび は よめ に くわす な
“Do not let your daughter-in-law eat autumn eggplants”

japanese proverb rats

17. 明日のことをいうと天井の鼠が笑う

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”

japanaese packhorse proverb

18. 馬子にも衣裳

まご に も いしょう
“Even a packhorse driver looks fine in proper dress.”

japanese proverb consult your knees

19. 膝とも談合

ひざ とも だんごう
“Consult anyone, even your knees.”

japanese proverb monkey and dog

20. 犬猿の仲

“Relations between a dog and a monkey.”

japanese proverb clogs

21. 下駄に焼き味噌

“Roast bean paste on wooden clogs.”


English Sayings

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!!