Fun Link Friday: Japanese idioms and proverbs

One of the most fascinating parts of foreign languages is learning the intricacies of local sayings, since they help us really dig into the cultural context specific to that language, but also see the universal themes many places and peoples across the world hold dear. We look to ことわざ (kotowaza, proverbs) and 慣用句 (kanyōku, idioms) to see these fun additions to Japanese. Oftentimes these phrases are incredibly old, though the sentiments are timeless. Matador Network recently posted a list of 30 Japanese sayings (some I knew, others that were new to me!) that will likely spark your interest. Here’s a neat one that I’ve never come across, even in the English version:


“Sheep head, dog meat.”

Meaning false advertising, or “crying wine and selling vinegar,” the image this one paints is more graphic, and therefore more powerful.

What’s your favorite? Let us know!

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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2 Responses to Fun Link Friday: Japanese idioms and proverbs

  1. “Saru mo ki kara ochiru”
    Even a monkey can fall from a tree.

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