TODAY’S KOTOWAZA 句館

In Japanese, KOTOWAZA are proverbs, or common sayings. Like senryû poetry, kotowaza often figure into rakugo, not to mention everyday life in Japan.

「諺」は、英語でいうと proverb (プロバーブ)、または common saying (コモン・セイング) になります。川柳と同じく、諺は落語にも日本の日常生活にもよく折り込まれます。

JANUARY 一月  FEBRUARY 二月  MARCH 三月  APRIL 四月  MAY 五月  JUNE 六月  JULY 七月  AUGUST 七月  SEPTEMBER 九月  OCTOBER 十月  NOVEMBER 十一月  DECEMBER 十二月

JANUARY 一月

1.1 笑う門には福来る (Warau kado ni wa fuku kitaru). Fortune finds its way to gates merry with laughter.

1.2 千里の行も一歩より起こる (Sen ri no kô mo ippo yori okoru). Even thousand-mile journeys start with one step.

† One ri (in the original) equals 3.9 kilometers, or 2.42 miles, so a journey of sen ri is actually 2,423 miles.

1.3  一日の計は朝にあり (Ichinichi no kei wa asa ni ari). Planning for the day is best done in the morning.

1.4 志有る者は事竟に成る (Kokorozashi aru mono wa kototsui ni naru). With ambition one can accomplish anything (i.e., where there’s a will, there’s a way).

1.5 我思う、故に我あり (Ware omou, yue ni ware ari). I think, therefore I exist.

1.6 思い立ったが吉日 (Omoitatta ga kichijitsu). Auspicious is the day one makes up their mind (i.e., strike while the iron’s hot).

1.7 無病は一生の極楽 (Mubyô wa isshô no gokuraku). To be disease-free is life’s paradise.

1.8 頭が動かねば尾が動かぬ (Atama ga ugokaneba o ga ugokanu). If the head doesn’t move neither will the tail (i.e., people are only as good as their leaders).

1.9 知識は力なり (Chishiki wa chikara nari). Knowledge is power.

1.10 始めが肝心 (Hajime ga kanjin). Getting started is most crucial.

1.11 若いときの苦労は買ってでもせよ (Wakai toki no kurô wa katte demo se yo) The hardships one has in youth are worth even buying.

1.12 知者は惑わず勇者は懼れず (Chisha wa madowazu yûsha wa osorezu). Wise men grow not perplexed, the courageous not fainthearted.

1.13 論より証拠 (Ron yori shôko). Evidence trumps theory.

1.14 病は気から (Yamai wa ki kara). Sickness begins in the mind.

1.15 早寝早起き病知らず (Hayane hayaoki yamai shirazu). Keep early hours, keep good health.

1.16 今日は人の上、明日は我が身の上 (Kyô wa hito no ue, asu wa wa ga mi no ue). Today it happens to others, tomorrow it happens to me (i.e., always be prepared for the worst).

1.17 言うは易く行うは難し (Iu wa yasuku okonau wa katashi). Saying something is easy, Doing it is hard.

1.18 浅き川も深く渡れ (Asaki kawa mo fukaku watare). Cross even shallow rivers as though they were deep.

1.19 門に入らば笠を脱げ (Mon ni iraba kasa o nuge). Remove your hat when entering someone’s gate.

† Kasa is a bamboo or sedge hat. Like in the West, this has to do with respecting others and their customs.

1.20 予防は治療に勝る (Yobô wa chiryô ni masaru). Prevention is better than treatment.

1.21 日に三度我が身を省みる (Hi ni sando wa ga mi o kaerimiru). Reflect upon yourself three times a day.

1.22 子は産むも心は生まぬ (Ko wa umu mo kokoro wa umanu). [Parents] give birth to children, but not necassarily their hearts.

1.23 大事は小事より起こる (Daiji wa shôji yori okoru). Great things begin with small things.

1.24 小さくとも針は呑まれぬ (Chiisakutomo hari wa nomarenu). Although it is small, a needle cannot be swallowed.

1.25 笑う顔に矢立たず (Warau kao ni ya tatazu). An arrow is no competition for a smiling face.

1.26 富は一生の宝、知は万代の宝 (Tomi wa isshô no takara, chi wa bandai no takara). Wealth is the treasure of a lifetime, knowledge is the treasure of ten-thousand generations.

1.27 禍を転じて福となす (Wazawai o tenjite fuku to nasu). Turn misfortune into fortune.

1.28 二兎を追う者は一兎をも得ず (Nito o ou mono wa itto o mo ezu). One who chases two rabbits won’t even get one.

1.29 武士に二言は無い (Bushi ni nigon wa nai). Samurai never go back on their word.

1.30 学問に近道なし (Gakumon ni chikamichi nashi). There are no shortcuts to learning.

1.31 つまずく石も縁の端 (Tsumazuku ishi mo en no hashi). Even a stone stumbled on sits on the threshold of fate.

FEBRUARY 二月 TOP

2.1 継続は力なり (Keizoku wa chikara nari). Perseverance is power.

2.2 心の駒に手綱許すな (Kokoro no koma ni tazuna yurusuna). Let no one take the reigns to the horse of your heart.

2.3 鬼の目にも見残し (Oni no me ni mo minokoshi). Even ogres fail to see some things.

Oni are often depicted with three or more eyes in Japanese lore.

2.4 玉磨かざれば器を成さず (Tama migakazareba utsuwa o nasazu). If a gemstone is not polished it will never have any distinction.

2.5 好機逸すべからず (Kôki issu bekarazu). One should not waste good opportunities.

2.6 運は天にあり (Un wa ten ni ari). Fate is determined by Heaven.

2.7 為せば成る為さねば成らぬ何事も (Naseba naru nasaneba naranu nanigoto mo). If one tries things are possible; without an attempt nothing is possible.

2.8 七転び八起き (Nana korobi ya oki). Fall down seven times, get up eight.

2.9 教うるは学ぶの半ば (Oshiuru wa manabu no nakaba). Teaching is half learning.

2.10 勤勉は成功の母 (Kinben wa seikô no haha). Diligence is the mother of success.

2.11 ローマは一日にしてならず (Rôma wa ichinichi ni shite narazu). Rome wasn’t built in a day.

2.12 心は二つ身は一つ (Kokoro wa futatsu mi wa hitotsu). Two hearts one body (i.e., one cannot be into two places at once).

2.13 知らずば人に問え (Shirazuba hito ni toe). If you don’t know, ask somebody.

2.14 恋に上下の隔て無し (Koi ni jôge no hedate nashi). Love discriminates not between high and low.

2.15 心の矢は石にも立つ (Kokoro no ya wa ishi ni mo tatsu). Arrows of the heart stand even in stone.

2.16 知恵は小出しにせよ (Chie wa kodashi ni seyo). Administer wisdom in small doses.

2.17 果報は寝て待て (Kahô wa nete mate) Sleep and wait for good fortune (i.e., good things come to those who wait).

2.18 喜びあれば憂いあり (Yorokobi areba urei ari). With every joy comes a worry.

2.19 明日の百より今日の五十 (Asu no hyaku yori kyô no gojû). Rather than a hundred tomorrow, fifty today (i.e., be realistic when making goals).

2.20 善悪は友を見よ (Zen aku wa tomo o miyo). To determine [whether someone is] good or bad, look at one’s friends.

2.21 頭の上の蝿を追え (Atama no ue no hae o oe). Go after the fly on your head (i.e., worry about your own problems before others’).

2.22 猫の手も借りたい (Neko no te mo karitai). I would even take a set of cat paws.

† Figure of speech one uses when busy to the point of desperation.

2.23 名人は人に問う (Meijin wa hito ni tô). Experts ask others questions.

2.24 失敗は成功のもと (Shippai wa seikô no moto). Failure is the origin of success.

2.25 身を捨ててこそ浮かぶ瀬もあれ (Mi o sutete koso ukabu se mo are). It is those who sacrifice themselves that will be rewarded with rising currents. (i.e., no venture, no gain).

2.26 敵の急所はわが急所 (Teki no kyûsho wa wa ga kyûsho). Our enemy’s vital points are the same as our own.

2.27 人事を尽くして天命を持つ (Jinji o  tsukushite tenmei o motsu). Give it your all and Destiny will be on your side.

2.28 橋が無ければ渡られぬ (Hashi ga nakereba watararenu). One cannot cross without a bridge.

MARCH 三月 TOP

3.1 春眠暁を覚えず (Shunmin akatsuki o oboezu). Spring sleep remembers not the daybreak (i.e., it is so comfortable this time of year that one sleeps through dawn).

3.2 身に勝る宝なし (Mi ni masaru takara nashi). There is no treasure worth more than yourself.

3.3 雀百まで踊り忘れず (Suzume hyaku made odori wasurezu). Swallows don’t forget how to dance until one-hundred (i.e., old habits–good or bad–die hard).

† Here, odori (dance) is a metaphor for the bird’s hopping up and down.

3.4 時は金なり (Toki wa kane nari). Time is money.

3.5 月日変われば気も変わる (Tsukihi kawareba ki mo kawaru). As months and days change, so do people’s minds.

3.6 実のなる木は花から知れる (Mi no naru ki wa hana kara shireru). You can tell the fruit a tree will bear by its blossoms (i.e., if one’s efforts are great, so too will be the final result).

3.7 火のない所に煙は立たぬ (Hi no nai tokoro ni kemuri wa tatanu). Smoke does not rise where there is no fire (i.e., rumors usually spread for a reason).

3.8 蒔かぬ種は生えぬ (Makanu tane wa haenu). Seeds not sown will not grow.

3.9 千兵は得やすく、一将は求め難し (Sen hei wa e yasuku, isshô wa motome katashi). It is easy to amass a thousand troops, but difficult to find a general.

3.10 楽は苦の種、苦は楽の種 (Raku wa ku no tane, ku wa raku no tane). Comfort is the seed of pain, pain is the seed of comfort (i.e., no pain, no gain).

3.11 我が身を立てんとせばまず人を立てよ (Wa ga mi o taten to seba mazu hito o tateyo). If you would like to rise in the world, start by lifting others up.

3.12 短期は未練のもと (Tanki wa miren no moto). Impatience is the origin of regret.

3.13 物は考えよう (Mono wa kangaeyô). Think things over.

3.14 得難きはとき、会い難きは友 (Egataki wa toki, aigataki wa tomo). Time and [good] friends are hard to come by.

3.15 光陰矢の如し (Kôin ya no gotoshi). Light and shadows can be likened to arrows (i.e., time flies).

3.16 立つ鳥跡を濁さず (Tatsu tori ato o nigosazu). A bird taking flight does not leave the water murky (i.e., clean up after yourself).

3.17 歳月人を待たず (Saigetsu hito o matazu). The years and months wait for no one.

3.18 入り船あれば出船あり (Irifune areba defune ari). For every ship coming in, another ship goes out.

3.19 待たぬ月日は経ちやすい (Matanu tsukihi wa tachiyasui). Months and days not waited on pass quickly.

3.20 人を思うは身を思う (Hito o omou wa mi o omou). Regard for others is regard for yourself.

3.21 明日ありと思う心の仇桜 (Asu ari to omou kokoro no adazakura). The fleeting cherry blossoms that long to see tomorrow (i.e., we cannot predict the course life will take).

† This is the second half of a poem by Shinran (1173-1262), founder of the Jôdo Shinshû sect of Buddhism. The first half goes 夜半に嵐の吹かぬものかは (Yowa ni arashi no fukanu mono kawa). Will there not be a storm blowing at midnight?

3.22 来る者は拒まず (Kuru mono wa kobamazu). Do not reject those who come to you (in support).

3.23 昨日に勝る今日の花 (Kinô ni masaru kyô no hana). Today’s flowers are superior to yesterday’s (i.e., one’s heart can change in an instant).

3.24 笑って損した者なし (Waratte son shita mono nashi). Nobody ever lost a thing by laughing.

3.25 棚から牡丹餅 (Tana kara bota mochi). Peony mochi falls from the shelf (right into your mouth; i.e., good things happen when you least expect them).

3.26 花より団子 (Hana yori dango). Dumplings over cherry blossoms (the latter can actually be of use/eaten).

3.27 言わぬは言うにまさる (Iwanu wa iu ni masaru). Not saying something is better than saying it.

3.28 目は心の窓 (Me wa kokoro no mado). Eyes are the window to the heart.

3.29 桜は花に顕る (Sakura wa hana ni arawaru). Cherry trees are known because of their blossoms.

3.30 得手に帆を揚げる (Ete ni ho o ageru). Hoist sails in line with your forte (i.e., make the best use of your talents).

3.31 三日見ぬ間の桜 (Mikka minu ma no sakura). Take your eyes off the cherry blossoms for a few days (and they’re gone).

† From the Ôshima Ryota (1707-87) poem 世の中は三日見ぬ間に桜かな (Yo no naka wa mikka minu ma ni sakura ka na). The world we live in / is like three days not watching / the cherry blossoms (i.e., the world around us changes rapidly).

APRIL 四月 TOP

4.1 初心忘れるべからず (Shoshin wasureru bekarazu). Never forget your beginner’s heart.

4.2 早起きは三文の徳 (Hayaoki wa sanmon no toku). Wake up early and win three extra coins.

4.3 案ずるより産むが易し (Anzuru yori umu ga yasushi). Things are easier to do than we fear.

4.4 丸い卵も切りようで四角 (Marui tamago mo kiriyô de shikaku). Even a round egg looks square depending on how one cuts it (i.e., the outcome of any situation is up to the way one deals with it).

4.5 住めば都 (Sumeba miyako). If you live there it is home.

4.6 所変われば品変わる (Tokoro kawareba shina kawaru). Customs change with the territory.

4.7 朱に交われば赤くなる (Shu ni majiwareba akakunaru). Associate with blood and you shall be red (i.e., the company you keep rubs off on you).

4.8 会うは別れの始め (Au wa wakare no hajime). Meeting is the beginning of parting.

4.9 今日の後に今日なし (Kyô no nochi ni kyô nashi). After today, this day will be no more.

4.10 郷に入っては郷に従え (Gô ni haitte wa gô ni shitagae) When in the country, keep with the ways there (i.e., when in Rome, do as the Romans do).

4.11 苦あれば楽あり (Ku areba raku ari). If there is suffering, there shall too be ease (i.e., no pain, no gain).

4.12 名は体を表す (Na wa tai o arawasu). One’s name reflects their nature.

4.13 習うより慣れよ (Narau yori nareyo). Do things instead of learning about them.

4.14 渡る世間に鬼はない (Wataru seken ni oni wa nai). There are no goblins knocking about the world (i.e., there is good to be found in everyone).

4.15 よく学びよく遊べ (Yoku manabi yoku asobe). Study hard, play hard.

4.16 山椒は小粒でもぴりりと辛い (Sanshô wa kotsubu demo piriri to karai). Even a tiny grain of sanshô pepper has a bite (i.e., good things come in small packages).

4.17 一輪咲いても花は花 (Ichirin saitemo hana wa hana). Even if only one blooms, a flower is still a flower.

4.18 必要は発明の母 (Hitsuyô wa hatsumei no haha). Need is the mother of invention.

4.19 意志のある所には道がある (Ishi no aru tokoro ni wa michi ga aru). Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

4.20 急ぎの文は静かに書け (Isogi no fumi wa shizuka ni kake). Write pressing letters in quiet.

4.21 知る者は言わず言う者は知らず (Shiru mono wa iwazu iu mono wa shirazu). Those who know say nothing, those who speak know not.

4.22 親しき仲にも礼儀あり (Shitashiki naka ni mo reigi ari) Even among friends there is etiquette.

4.23 沈む瀬あれば浮かぶ瀬あり (Shizumu se areba ukabu se ari). For every receding shoal there is an rising rapid.

4.24 石の上にも三年 (Ishi no ue ni mo san nen) Three years on a stone (and even its inner coldness can be warmed. I.e., perseverance trumps all).

4.25 怒りは敵と思え (Okori wa teki to omoe). Think of anger as your enemy.

4.26 鶏口となるも牛後となるなかれ (Keikô to naru mo gyûgo to naru nakare). If you can be the rooster’s voice, don’t be a cow’s rear (It’s better to be the leader of something small than an auxiliary player in something big).

4.27 急がば回れ (Isogaba maware). Rush and you’ll go in circles.

4.28 よい花は後から (Yoi hana wa ato kara). The nice blossoms come later (i.e., good things take time).

4.29 聞くは一時の恥、聞かぬは一生の恥 (Kiku wa ittoki no haji, kikanu wa isshô no haji). Asking is the embarrassment of a moment, not asking is the embarrassment of a lifetime.

4.30 去る者は追わず (Saru mono wa owazu). Don’t pursue those who leave you.

MAY 五月 TOP

5.1 起きて働く果報者 (Okite hataraku kahômono). Lucky is s/he who can wake up and go to work.

5.2 袖振り合うも他生の縁 (Sode fureau mo tashô no en). Even brushing sleeves with others is due to bonds from previous lives.

5.3 可愛い子には旅をさせよ (Kawaii ko ni wa tabi o saseyo). Send the child dear to you on a journey (i.e., if you love someone very much, let them go).

5.4 三つ子の魂百まで (Mitsugo no tamashii hyaku made). A child of three has the same spirit at one hundred.

5.5 赤子は泣き泣き育つ (Akago wa naki naki sodatsu). Crying and crying, so a baby grows (i.e., this is the sign of a healthy baby).

5.6 綺麗な花は山に咲く (Kirei na hana wa yama ni saku). The beautiful flowers bloom in the mountains.

5.7 三人寄れば文殊の知恵 (Sannin yoreba monju no chie). With three people the wisdom of Manjusri can be achieved (i.e., two [or three] heads are better than one).

† Manjusri is the bodhisattva of wisdom and intellect.

5.8 長い目で見る (Nagai me de miru). Look at things in the long-term.

5.9 子を持って知る親の恩 (Ko o motte shiru oya no on). You know how much you owe your parents when you have your own child.

5.10 鳴くまで待とう時鳥 (Naku made matô hototogisu). Let us wait for it to sing — Japanese warbler (i.e., patience pays off).

†This is based on Tokugawa Ieyasu’s poem, 鳴かぬなら鳴くまで待とう時鳥 (Nakanu nara naku made matô hototogisu). If it won’t sing, let us wait until it does — Japanese warbler. Oda Nobunaga’s variation on this was 鳴かぬなら殺してしまえ時鳥 (Nakanu nara koroshite mae hototogisu). If it won’t sing kill the damn thing: Japanese warbler. Toyotomi Hideyoshi in turn composed 鳴かぬなら鳴かしてみしょう時鳥 (Nakanu nara nakashite mishô hototogisu) If it won’t sing let’s make it sing: Japanese warbler.

5.11 花は根に鳥は古巣に (Hana wa ne ni tori wa furusu ni). Blossoms return to their roots as birds return to old nests (i.e., all things in life come full circle).

5.12 正直の頭に神宿る (Shôjiki no kôbe ni kami yadoru). The gods dwell in heads of those who are honest.

5.13 小さな流れも大河となる (Chîsa na nagare mo taiga to naru). Small streams too grow into large rivers.

5.14 草を抜かざれば木も茂らず (Kusa o nukazareba ki mo shigerazu). If weeds aren’t pulled, even trees will fail to flourish.

5.15 白羽の矢が立つ (Shiraha no ya ga tatsu). An arrow with white feather [fletchings] strikes its target (i.e., people get singled out or selected).

† From an ancient superstition that gods singled out their sacrifices–young girls–by sticking an arrow with white feather fletchings in the roofs of their homes. For some time after this, the saying had negative connotations, but today it generally refers to people recognized with special distinction and honor.

5.16 鹿を追う者は山を見ず (Shika o ou mono wa yama o mizu). Those who chase deer will not see the mountains.

5.17 近道は遠道 (Chikamichi wa tômichi). Shortcuts are “longcuts.”

5.18 隣の花は赤い (Tonari no hana wa akai). The flowers next door are redder (i.e., the grass is greener on the other side).

5.19 彼も人なり、我も人なり (Kare mo hito nari, ware mo hito nari). He is a man, and so too am I (i.e., if another achieves something, you can do the same).

† From Tang dynasty thinker-writer Han Yu (768-824).

5.20 鉄は熱いうちに打て (Tetsu wa atsui uchi ni ute). Strike while the iron is hot.

5.21 老いては子に従え (Oite wa ko ni shitagae). Obey your children when old.

5.22 驕れる者久しからず (Ogoreru mono wa hisashikarazu). Numbered are the days of the arrogant.

5.23 腹は立て損、喧嘩は仕損 (Hara wa tate zon, kenka wa shizon). Giving into anger brings loss, and fighting breeds failure.

5.24 人と屏風はすぐには立たず (Hito to byôbu wa sugu ni wa tatazu). People and folding screens don’t stand straight away (i.e., they need a little adjusting, or compromise).

5.25 人を以て鏡となす (Hito wo motte kagami to nasu). Using others as examples, try to be a mirror.

5.26 蹴る馬も乗り手次第 (Keru uma mo norite shidai). Even a bucking horse depends on the rider.

5.27 言いたいことは明日言え (Iitai koto wa ashita ie). Say the things you want to say tomorrow (i.e., sleep on it).

5.28 木を見て森を見ず (Ki o mite mori o mizu) Focus on a tree and you will miss the forest.

5.29 明日は明日の風が吹く (Ashita wa ashita no kaze ga fuku). Tomorrow’s winds shall blow tomorrow (i.e., worry about the present).

5.30 迷わぬ者に悟りなし (Mayowanu mono ni satori nashi). Those who don’t wander won’t find enlightenment.

5.31 踏まれた草にも花が咲く (Fumareta kusa ni mo hana ga saku). Even on grasses that have been trampled, flowers will bloom.

JUNE 六月 TOP

6.1 物がなければ影ささず (Mono ga nakereba kage sasazu). If something doesn’t exist, it won’t make a shadow (i.e., no cause, no effect).

6.2 待てば海路の日和有り (Mateba kairo no hiyori ari). There will be a perfect day for crossing the sea, if one waits.

6.3 地獄極楽は心にあり (Jigoku gokuraku wa kokoro ni ari). Hell and paradise are in the heart (i.e. the world is what one makes of it).

6.4 窮鼠猫を噛む (Kyûso neko o kamu). Cornered mice bite cats.

6.5 源清ければ流れ清し (Minamoto kiyokereba nagare kiyoshi). If the origin is clean so too is the stream.

6.6 名人は人を謗らず (Meijin wa hito o soshirazu). Experts do not disparage others.

6.7 静中の静は真の静にあらず (Seichû no shizuka wa makoto no shizuka ni arazu). Silence in the midst of silence is not true silence.

† From a line in Càigēntán (Discourse on Vegetable Roots, ca.1590), written by the Ming Dynasty scholar and philosopher Hóng Zìchéng (1572-1620). 静中静非真静.

6.8 その子を知らざれば、その友を視よ (Sono ko o shirazareba, sono tomo o miyo). If you don’t know that child, take a look at their friends.

6.9 後生、おそるべし (Kôsei, osoru beshi). Fear the next generation.

6.10 時は得難くして失いやすし (Toki wa egatakushite ushinai yasushi). Time is hard to come by and easy to lose.

6.11 降らぬ先の傘 (Furanu saki no kasa). An umbrella before it  rains (i.e., being prepared is a key to success).

6.12 七度探して人を疑え (Nanatabi sagashite hito o utagae) Question others only after searching seven times.

6.13 残り物には福がある (Nokorimono ni wa fuku ga aru). There is fortune to be had in things left behind.

6.14 雨晴れて笠を忘れる (Ame harete kasa o wasureru). When the rain clears we forget [our debts to] our umbrellas.

6.15 急いては事を仕損じる (Seite wa koto o shisonjiru). Rush and things will go wrong.

6.16 蟻の穴から堤も崩れる (Ari no ana kara tsutsumi mo kuzureru). An ant hole can cause even an embankment to crumble.

6.17 類は友を呼ぶ (Rui wa tomo o yobu) Types summon associates. (i.e., people of the same kind/class tend to come together).

6.18 まさかの時の友こそ真の友 (Masa ka no toki no tomo koso makoto no tomo). A friend there in a time of need is a true friend.

6.19 言わぬことは聞こえぬ (Iwanu koto wa kikoenu). That not said cannot be heard.

6.20 親の意見と冷や酒は後で利く (Oya no iken to hiyazake wa ato de kiku). Parents’ opinions and chilled sake hit home later.

6.21 雨の夜にも星 (Ame no yoru ni mo hoshi). Even on rainy nights, there are stars.

6.22 悪銭身に付かず (Akusen mi ni tsukazu). Bad money doesn’t last.

6.23 目は目で見えぬ (Me wa me de mienu). An eye can’t look back at itself (i.e., we are not the best judges of ourselves).

6.24 雨に濡れて露恐ろしからず (Ame ni nurete tsuyu osoroshikarazu). Those who get rained on need not fear the dew.

6.25 礼も過ぎれば無礼になる (Rei mo sugireba burei ni naru) Being over-polite can be impolite.

6.26 例外のない規則はない (Reigai no nai kisoku wa nai). There is no rule without an exception.

6.27 金は命の親 命の敵 (Kane wa inochi no oya inochi no kataki). Money is the parent of life, and life’s adversary (i.e., it can make or break you).

6.28 大は小を兼ねる (Dai wa shô o kaneru). Large is small doubled.

6.29 大欲は無欲に似たり (Daiyoku wa muyoku ni nitari). Desiring everything is like desiring nothing.

6.30 習うは一生 (Narau wa isshô). Learning takes a lifetime.

JULY 七月 TOP

7.1 風は吹けども山は動せず (Kaze wa fukedomo yama wa dô sezu). Though the wind blows, the mountain moves not (i.e., a composed heart is not affected by outside distractions).

7.2 塵も積もれば山となる (Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru). Even dust can form a mountain if piled up.

7.3 死しての千年より生きての一日 (Shi shite no sen nen yori ikite no ichi nichi) One day alive is worth more than a thousand years dead.

7.4 頭隠して尻隠さず (Atama kakushite shiri kakusazu). One covers their head but not their rear (i.e., hiding part of something doesn’t mean the rest of it can’t be seen).

7.5 なくて七癖、あって四十八癖 (Nakute nanakuse, atte shijûhakkuse). Those with no habits [still] have seven, those with habits have forty-eight (i.e., no person is free of fault).

† Seven (nana) because this number rings well with “none” (nakute); forty-eight is taken from the 48 winning techniques (shijûhatte) of sumô wrestling.

7.6 目で見て口で言え (Me de mite kuchi de ie). Observe with your eyes and speak with your mouth.

7.7 千載一遇 (Sen zai ichi gû). Once in a thousand years (i.e., don’t pass up golden opportunities).

7.8 甲斐なき星が夜を明かす (Kai naki hoshi ga yo o akasu). It is the nameless stars that illuminate the night.

7.9 一期一会 (Ichi go ichi e). One moment, one encounter (i.e., cherish every moment, it will never recur).

7.10 人の心は面の如し (Hito no kokoro wa omote no gotoshi). People’s hearts are like faces (i.e., all are different).

7.11 我が身のことは人に問え (Wa ga mi no koto wa hito ni toe). Ask others about the [wo]man I am (i.e., others often know us better than we do).

7.12 熱し易きは冷め易し (Atsushi yasuki wa same yasushi). Soon hot, soon cold.

7.13 昨日は昨日、今日は今日 (Kinô wa kinô, kyô wa kyô) Yesterday was yesterday, today is today.

7.14 馬には乗ってみよ人には添うてみよ (Uma ni wa notte miyo hito ni wa sôte miyo) Try riding horses; try tending to someone’s needs (i.e., trying something is always better than merely talking about it).

7.15 苦言は薬なり甘言は病なり (Kugen wa kusuri nari kangen wa yamai nari). Harsh words are medicine, candy-coated words are sickness.

7.16 義を見てせざるは勇無きなり (Gi o mite sezaru wa yû nakinari). Those who know yet reject justice are without valor.

7.17 流れを汲みて源を知る (Nagare o kumite minamoto o shiru). Dip into the stream to know the source (i.e., one’s behavior is a reflection of their true feelings).

7.18 船は帆でもつ、帆は船でもつ (Fune wa ho de motsu, ho wa fune de motsu). The ship is held by the sail, and the sail by the ship.

7.19 海のことは漁師に問え (Umi no koto wa ryôshi ni toe). Ask a fisherman if you want to know about the ocean.

7.20 大海の一滴 (Taikai no itteki). A drop in the vast ocean (i.e., human existence pales in comparison to the sea).

7.21 井の中の蛙大海を知らず (I no naka no kawazu taikai o shirazu). A frog in a well knows nothing of the vast ocean.

7.22 水を得た魚 (Mizu o eta uo). [Like a] fish with water (a metaphor used when one receives something they wanted/needed dearly).

7.23 夏は日向を行け、冬は日陰を行け (Natsu wa hinata o ike, fuyu wa hikage o ike). Stay in the sun in summer, in the shade in winter (i.e., this will make you stronger).

7.24 深い川は静かに流れる (Fukai kawa wa shizuka ni nagareru). Deep rivers flow quietly.

7.25 光あるものは光あるものを友とす (Hikari aru mono wa hikari aru mono o tomo to su). Brillance makes great company for brilliance.

7.26 魚の目に水見えず (Uo no me ni mizu miezu). Fish can’t see the water in their eyes (i.e., we are not the best judge of things in our immediate vicinity).

† This is sometimes followed by 人の目に空見えず (Hito no me ni kû miezu); People can’t see the air in their eyes.

7.27 火で火は消えぬ (Hi de hi wa kienu). Fire can’t be put out with fire.

7.28 人の噂も七十五日 (Hito no uwasa mo shichijûgo nichi). A rumor lasts but seventy-five days (i.e., don’t lose sleep over rumors).

7.29 人を謀れば人に謀らる (Hito o hakareba hito ni hakararu). Plot against others and they shall plot against you.

7.30 先んずれば人を制す (Sakinzureba hito o sei su). Get a head start and gain the upper hand (i.e., the early bird gets the worm).

7.31 転んでもただでは起きぬ (Korondemo tada de wa okinu). Even when stumbling, no one gets up empty-handed (i.e., there is something to be gained/learned in any situation).

AUGUST 七月 TOP

8.1 流れる水は腐らず (Nagareru mizu wa kusarazu). Running water does not go bad (i.e., stay active to stay “fresh”).

8.2 思えば思わるる (Omoeba omowaruru). Think something and it shall be thought back.

8.3 水は逆さまに流れず (Mizu wa sakasama ni nagarezu). Water does not flow up.

8.4 論に負けても実に勝て (Ron ni maketemo jitsu ni kate). Win with truth even if you lose the argument.

8.5 遠くの親類より近くの (Tôku no shinrui yori chikaku no tanin). A stranger close by is better than a relative far off.

8.6 柔よく剛を制す (Jû yoku gô o sei su). Flexiblity often trumps rigidness.

8.7 高きに登るには低きよりす (Takaki ni noboru ni wa hikuki yori su). To climb high one must start low.

8.8 水は方円の器に随う (Mizu wa hôen no utsuwa ni shitagau). Water conforms to both square and round vessels (i.e., so too should people be flexible).

8.9 正直は最善の策 (Shôjiki wa saizen no saku). Honesty is the best policy.

8.10 瑠璃の光も磨きがら (Ruri no hikari mo migaki gara). Even a lapis lazuli’s brilliance comes with polishing.

† Lapis lazuli is an intense blue semi-precious stone.

8.11 旅は道連れ 世は情け (Tabi wa michizure yo wa nasake). Companions on journeys, compassion in the world (i.e., these are the greatest things).

8.12 鬼の居ぬ間に洗濯 (Oni no inu ma ni sentaku). Do the washing when the ogre’s out (i.e., when the cat’s away the mice will play).

8.13 乗りかかった船 (Norikakatta fune). An embarked ship (i.e., once you’re on a ship and out to sea, you cannot simply get off — finish what you start).

8.14 口と財布は締めるが得 (Kuchi to saifu wa shimeru ga toku). One profits by zipping their mouth and wallet.

8.15 腹が立つなら親を思い出せ (Hara ga tatsu nara oya o omoidase). If you feel angry, think of your parents.

8.16 君子、危うきに近寄らず (Kunshi, ayauki ni chikayorazu). A (wo)man of virtue does not go near danger (i.e., Fools rush in where angels fear to tread).

8.17 飛んで火に入る夏の虫 (Tonde hi ni hairu natsu no mushi). [Like] A summer insect that flies into the fire (i.e., a metaphor for one who willingly rushes into danger/disaster).

8.18 百聞は一見に如かず (Hyakubun wa ikken ni shikazu). Seeing something once is better than hearing it a hundred times.

8.19 念には念を入れよ (Nen ni wa nen o ireyo). Put precaution into precaution (i.e., one cannot be too careful).

8.20 下手は上手のもと (Heta wa jôzu no moto). Lack of skill is the origin of skill.

8.21 雨だれ石を穿つ (Amadare ishi o ugatsu). Raindrops can bore through stone.

8.22 嵐の前の静けさ (Arashi no mae no shizukesa). The silence before the storm (i.e., a metaphor for the eerie calm that comes before a major incident).

8.23 鬼の目にも涙 (Oni no me ni mo namida). Even ogres’ eyes have tears (i.e., everybody — even those seemingly heartless and cruel — is capable of feeling).

8.24 名のない星は宵から出る (Na no nai hoshi wa yoi kara deru). Nameless stars come out in the early evening.

8.25 竜の雲を得る如し (Ryû no kumo o eru gotoshi). Like a dragon with its cloud (i.e., metaphor for one having the supplies necessary to accomplish great things).

† Dragons ascend to the heavens on clouds.

8.26 夏の風邪は犬も食わぬ (Natsu no kaze wa inu mo kuwanu). Even a dog won’t eat a summer cold (i.e., even a dog is smart enough to stay away from this).

† The phrase “inu mo kuwanu” is also used in 夫婦喧嘩は犬も食わぬ (Fûfugenka ha inu mo kuwanu). Even a dog won’t eat a husband and wife’s quarrel. A dog, typically willing to eat anything, will not touch these.

8.27 水積もりて川を成す (Mizu tsumorite kawa o nasu) Water accumulated turns into a river.

8.28 一日一善 (Ichi nichi ichi zen). Do one good deed a day.

8.29 上り坂あれば下り坂あり (Noborizaka areba kudarizaka ari) For every uphill slope, a downhill one.

8.30 昨日は今日の昔 (Kinô wa kyô no mukashi) Yesterday is today’s ancient past.

8.31 雨降って地固まる (Ame futte jigatamaru). Rain settles the soil (i.e., “bad” things can bring good).

SEPTEMBER 九月 TOP

9.1 天災は忘れた頃にやってくる (Tensai wa wasureta koro ni yattekuru). Natural disasters come the moment we take our mind off them.

9.2 備えあれば憂いなし (Sonae areba urei nashi). Preparation brings freedom from sorrow.

9.3 転ばぬ先の杖 (Korobanu saki no tsue). A cane before stumbling. (i.e., metaphor illustrating the wisdom in taking precautions).

9.4 用心は勇気の大半なり (Yôjin wa yûki no taihan nari). Discretion is the better half of valor.

9.5 一葉落ちて天下の秋を知る (Ichiyô ochite tenka no aki o shiru). One can know autumn from a single falling leaf.

9.6 使っている鍬は光る (Tsukatteiru kuwa wa hikaru). The hoe in use shines (i.e., s/he who makes use of every moment will look best).

9.7 喉元過ぎれば熱さを忘れる (Nodomoto sugireba atsusa o wasureru). One forgets the heat once it passes the throat (i.e., hards times pass and people move on).

9.8 猿も木から落ちる (Saru mo ki kara ochiru). Even monkeys fall from trees.

9.9 用心に怪我なし (Yôjin ni kega nashi). People don’t get injured by taking precautions.

9.10 猫を追うより魚をのけよ (Neko o ou yori sakana o nokeyo). Instead of following cats, beat them to the fish.

9.11 腹が減っては戦はできぬ (Hara ga hette wa ikusa wa dekinu).  One cannot do battle on an empty stomach.

9.12 旨いものは宵に食え (Umai mono wa yoi ni kue) Eat delicious food in the early evening (i.e., it won’t be as good later).

9.13 膳部揃うて箸を取れ (Zenbu sorôte hashi o tore). Pick up your chopsticks only after everything has been set out (i.e. rushing is poor etiquette, and may bring consequences).

9.14 便りのないのは良い便り (Tayori no nai no wa yoi tayori). No news is good news.

9.15 足もとの明るいうち (Ashi moto no akarui uchi). Get moving while your path is still lit.

9.16 逃がした魚は大きい (Nigashita sakana wa ôkî). Fish that get away are always “big ones.”

9.17 恋に師匠なし (Koi ni shishô nashi). Love has no master.

9.18 握れば拳、開けば掌 (Nigireba kobushi, hirakeba tenohira). Clinch it and it’s a fist, open it and it’s a palm (i.e., one hand can both punch and caress; it is up to each person how s/he will act).

9.19 一を聞いて十を知る (Ichi o kîte jû o shiru). [Wise is the person who can] Listen to one thing and learn ten.

9.20 暑さ寒さも彼岸まで (Atsusa samusa mo higan made). [Summer] heat and [winter] cold last until the equinox.

9.21 亀の甲より年の功 (Kame no kô yori toshi no kô). Wisdom aquired through age is more valuable than a tortoise’s shell.

9.22 負うた子に教えられる (Ôta ko ni oshierareru). One can learn from their own children.

9.23 実を見て木を知れ (Mi o mite ki o shire). Know the tree by examining its fruit.

9.24 水清ければ月宿る (Mizu kiyokereba tsuki yadoru). The moon dwells where waters are pure.

9.25 月は欠くるも光を改めず (Tsuki wa kakuru mo hikari o aratamezu). Though the moon wanes, its brilliance is unchanging.

9.26 虫が知らせる (Mushi ga shiraseru). The insects will let you know.

† Here, insects are a metaphor for one’s premonition.

9.27 足もとの鳥は逃げる (Ashimoto no tori wa nigeru). Birds right at your feet will get away (i.e., it’s better not to assume things are yours just because they’re within reach).

9.28 少年老い易く学成り難し (Shônen oi yasuku gaku narigatashi). It is easy for boys to grow old, but not so to become learned.

9.29 話上手は聞き上手 (Hanashi jôzu wa kiki jôzu). Good talkers are good listeners.

9.30 塔は下から組め (Tô wa shita kara kume). Build stupas from the ground up.

OCTOBER 十月 TOP

10.1 天高く馬肥ゆる秋 (Ten takaku uma koyuru aki). Autumn, when the sky is high and horses grow fat.

10.2 一寸の虫にも五分の魂 (Issun no mushi ni mo gobu no tamashî) Even a one-sun insect has five-bu worth of heart (i.e., never underestimate others).

† One sun is about 3 centimeters, 5 bu is approximately half that length.

10.3 魚心あれば水心 (Uogokoro areba mizugokoro). To every fish’s heart, a heart of water (i.e., one’s attitude will be returned in kind).

10.4 実るほど頭を垂れる稲穂かな (Minoru hodo kôbe o tareru inaho ka na). Alas, ears of rice hang their heads when bearing grain (i.e., people of learning and virtue should be humble).

10.5 目は口ほどに物を言う (Me wa kuchi hodo ni mono o iu). The eyes say just as much as the mouth.

10.6 経験は学問に勝る (Keiken wa gakumon ni masaru). Experience trumps academics.

10.7 旨いことは二度考えよ (Umai koto wa nido kangaeyo). Think twice on sweet deals (i.e., they may not be as sweet as you first think).

10.8 名馬に癖あり (Meiba ni kuse ari). Great horses have their quirks (and so too do great people).

10.9 心内に動けば詞外に現る (Kokorouchi ni ugokeba kotoba soto ni arawaru). If something is in your heart, it will manifest without words.

10.10 目から鱗が落ちる (Me kara uroko ga ochiru). The scales fall from one’s eyes (i.e., a phrase used when someone is suddenly able to understand the truth).

† An allusion to the conversion of Saul, in the Bible, Acts IX: 17-18: [17] So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” [18] And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, …

10.11 勝って兜の緒を締めよ (Katte kabuto no o o shimeyo). Draw tight the cords on your helmet when you’ve won (i.e., just because you succeed doesn’t mean you should let your guard down).

10.12 団結は力なり (Danketsu wa chikara nari). Unity is strength.

10.13 昨日の敵は今日の友 (Kinô no teki wa kyô no tomo). Yesterday’s enemy is today’s friend.

10.14 故きを温ねて新しきを知る (Furuki o tazunete atarashiki o shiru). Call on the old to learn things new.

† Based on a saying from the Analects 温故知新 (Chn. Wēn gù zhī xīn,  Jpn. on ko chi shin).

10.15 老いたる馬は道を忘れず (Oitaru uma wa michi o wasurezu). An old horse never forgets the trails.

10.16 戦いて勝つは易く、勝ちを守るは難し (Tatakaite katsu wa yasuku, kachi o mamoru wa katashi). It is simple to win a battle, but remaining the victor is not so.

10.17 良薬は口に苦し (Ryôyaku wa kuchi ni nigashi). Good medicine leaves the mouth bitter.

10.18 敵に塩を送る (Teki ni shio o okuru). Send salt to your enemies (i.e., it is dishonorable to strike when your enemies are struggling/defenseless).

† During the Warring States period, Takeda Shingen (1521-73) and his clan were distressed by the salt shortage and economic blockade brought on by the Hôjô clan of Sagami and Imagawa clan of Tôtômi. Uesugi Kenshin (1530-78), despite their long-standing rivalry, secretly sent Shingen aid in the form of salt.

10.19 薬も過ぎれば毒となる (Kusuri mo sugireba doku to naru). Even medicine can be poison if too much is taken (i.e., all overs are ill).

10.20 短期は損気 (Tanki wa sonki). A short-temper brings failure.

10.21 今日考えて明日語れ (Kyô kangaete asu katare). Think today, speak tomorrow.

10.22 勇将の下に弱卒なし (Yûshô no moto ni jakusotsu nashi). There are no cowardly soldiers beneath brave generals.

10.23 壁に耳あり障子に目あり (Kabe ni mimi ari shôji ni me ari). The walls have ears and the paper doors have eyes (i.e., secrets are hard to keep hidden).

10.24 口から出れば世間 (Kuchi kara dereba seken). Once something leaves the mouth, [it is out in] the world.

10.25 故郷へ錦を飾る (Kokyô e nishiki o kazaru). Return to your hometown with brocade (i.e., bring home something glamorous to demonstrate your advancement in life).

10.26 湯は水より出でて水ならず (Yu wa mizu yori idete mizu narazu). Hot water comes from water, yet it is no longer [the same] water (i.e., with effort, the mediocre can become excellent).

10.27 灯火親しむべし (Tôka shitashimu beshi). One should make friends with their lamp (i.e., as autumn grows cold it is a perfect time for reading).

† based on poem by Táng dynasty essayist and poet Hán Yù (768-824).

10.28 読書百遍、義、自ずからず見る (Dokusho hyappen, gi, onozukara arawaru). Read something a hundred times over and the meaning will become clear of itself.

10.29 事実は小説よりも奇なり (Jijitsu wa shôsetsu yori mo ki nari). Reality is stranger than fiction.

10.30 捨てる神あれば拾う神あり (Suteru kami araba hirô kami ari). If there is a god to forsake you, there is a got to save you.

10.31 知恵と力は重荷にならぬ (Chie to chikara wa omoni ni naranu). Wisdom and strength will never be an encumbrance.

NOVEMBER 十一月 TOP

11.1 善は急げ (Zen wa isoge). Get while the getting is good.

11.2 言葉は心の使い (Kotoba wa kokoro no tsukai). Words are instruments of the heart.

11.3 芸は身を助ける (Gei wa mi o tasukeru). Art saves the self.

11.4 能ある鷹は爪を隠す (Nô aru taka wa tume o kakusu). An skilled hawk conceals its talons.

11.5 好きこそ物の上手なれ (Suki koso mono no jôzu nare). Be good at what you love.

11.6 弘法筆を選ばず (Kôbô fude o erabazu). Kôbô [Daishi] didn’t choose brushes (i.e., true masters need not be concerned with the quality of their utensils).

† Kôbô Daishi, the posthumous name for the monk Kûkai (774–835), was a scholar and poet among other things. He is credited founding the Shingon sect of Buddhism and inventing kana, the syllabary used in Japanese writing to this day.

11.7 政を為すは人にあり (Matsurigoto o nasu wa hito ni ari). It is in people to accomplish [great things with] politics.

11.8 己の欲せざる所は人に施すなかれ (Onore no hossezaru tokoro wa hito ni hodokosu nakare). Don’t do to others that which you would not have done to you.

11.9 惚れた病に薬なし (Horeta byô ni kusuri nashi). There is no medicine for lovesickness.

11.10 上手の手から水が漏れる (Jôzu no te kara mizu ga moreru). Water leaks from the hands of experts.

11.11 上には上がある (Ue ni wa ue ga aru). Even the best has its better.

11.12 後悔、先に立たず (Kôkai, saki ni tatazu). Regret never comes first (i.e., think before you act).

11.13 医者と味噌は古いほどよい (Isha to miso wa furui hodo yoi). Doctors and miso — the older the better.

Miso is a Japanese thick paste seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barely, and/or soybeans with salt and the filamentous  fungus kôjikin (aspergillus oryzae). Miso is used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables and meats, and in soups. This Japanese staple is high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals.

11.14 小さく生んで大きく育てる (Chîsaku unde ôkiku sodateru). Bring up small children to be big and strong.

11.15 親の背を見て子は育つ (Oya no se o mite ko wa sodatsu). Children grow by watching the backs [i.e., lead] of their parents.

11.16 一念、天に通ず (Ichi nen, ten ni tsûzu). Faithful resolve is honored in heaven.

11.17 玉磨かざれば光なし (Tama migakazareba hikari nashi). Jewels left unpolished have no shine (i.e., even those with natural abilities need training and practice).

11.18 三つ子の魂百まで (Mitsugo no tamashii wa hyaku made). A three-year old has the same spirit at one-hundred.

11.19 虎穴に入らずんば虎子を得ず (Koketsu ni irazunba koji o ezu). One cannot get the tiger’s cub without entering the tiger’s lair (i.e., big prizes are not won without sacrifice).

11.20 自慢は知恵の行き止まり (Jiman wa chie no yukidomari). Pride brings wisdom to a dead stop.

11.21 何でも来いに名人無し (Nandemo koi ni meijin nashi). Nobody can be a master at everything (i.e., one should hone selected skills).

11.22 子に過ぎたる宝なし (Ko ni sugitaru takara nashi). There is no treasure greater than a child.

11.23 忙中閑あり (Bôchû kan ari). [Even] In a busy life there is leisure to be found.

11.24 子は親の鏡 (Ko wa oya no kagami). Children are a mirror of their parents.

11.25 生まれながらの長老なし (Umarenagara no chôrô nashi). Nobody is born a patriarch (i.e., it takes many years to arrive at excellence).

11.26 一時違えば三里の遅れ (Ittoki chigaeba sanri no okure). A two-hour difference, a 7½-mile delay.

Ittoki is approximately 2 hours, 1 ri is approximately 3 kilometers (≈2.5 miles).

11.27 言わぬは言うに勝る (Iwanu wa iu ni masaru). Holding one’s tongue is better than speaking up.

11.28 取らぬ狸の皮算用 (Toranu tanuki no kawazanyô). Banking on the pelt of a tanuki you can’t catch (i.e., a phrase used when one is being over-optimistic).

Tanuki, also known as also the magnut, are raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides). Native to East Asia, tanuki are not closely related to the raccoon. Native raccoon  dog populations have declined in recent years due to hunting, fur trade, urbanization, an increase of animals associated with human civilization, and disease.

11.29 明日のことは明日案じよ (Ashita no koto wa ashita anjiyo). Worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

11.30 過ぎたるは猶及ばざるが如し (Sugitaru wa nao’oyobazaru ga gotoshi). Overdoing something is the same as doing it inadequately.

DECEMBER 十二月 TOP

12.1 風邪は万病のもと (Kaze wa manbyô no moto). The common cold is the origin of 10,000 illnesses.

12.2 健康は富に勝る (Kenkô wa tomi ni masaru). Health is more important than wealth.

12.3 名を取るより得を取れ (Na o toru yori toku o tore). Rather than name, go after real gain.

12.4 人間一人は世の宝 (Ningen hitori wa yo no takara). The individual is the world’s gem (i.e., all human life should be treated as priceless treasure).

12.5 生まれながら貴き者なし (Umarenagara tôtoki mono nashi). Nobody is born noble.

12.6 汝の敵を愛せよ (Nanji no teki o ai seyo). Love your enemies.

† Jesus Christ quote in Bible, Matthew 5:44 (But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, …).

12.7 月雪花は一度に眺められず (Tsuki yuki hana wa ichido ni nagamerarezu). One cannot gaze upon the moon, snow, and blossoms at the same time (i.e., one can’t have the finest things all at once).

12.8 雪や氷も元は水 (Yuki ya kôri mo moto wa mizu). Both snow and ice come from water (i.e., environment dictates what something/one becomes.

12.9 思う念力岩をも通す (Omou nenriki iwa o mo tôsu). One can pierce even rocks with will (i.e., where there’s a will, there’s a way).

12.10 病を知れば癒ゆるに近し (Byô o shireba iyuru ni chikashi). If one knows a disease she is close to a cure.

12.11 相手のない喧嘩はできぬ (Aite no nai kenka wa dekinu). One cannot quarrel without an opponent.

12.12 縁の下の力持ち (En no shita no chikara mochi). Mighty are those [who endevor] behind the scenes.

12.13 学問に王道なし (Gakumon ni ōdō nashi).There is no royal road to learning (i.e., it is not easy to acquire knowledge).

12.14 物には程がある (Mono ni wa hodo ga aru). There is a limit to all things (i.e., use moderation).

12.15 冬来りなば春遠からじ (Fuyu kitarinaba haru tôkaraji). If winter comes, spring is not far behind.

† Based on the final line (70) of Percy Bysshe Shelly’s (1792-1822) classic poem “Ode to the West Wind”: If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

12.16 今日の一針、明日の十針 (Kyô no hito hari, asu no to hari). One stitch today, [or] ten stitches tomorrow.

12.17 楽あれば苦あり、苦あれば楽あり(Raku areba ku ari, ku areba raku ari) With ease comes hardship, and with hardship comes ease.

12.18 腹八分目に医者いらず (Hara hachibunme ni isha irazu). Stomachs filled to eighty percent do not need a doctor (i.e., stuffing oneself to full and beyond is unhealthy).

12.19 将を射んとせば先ず馬を射よ (Shô o intoseba mazu uma o iyo). If you want to bring down the general, start with his horse.

12.20 窮すれば通ず (Kyû sureba tsûzu). If one is hard pressed they will overcome (i.e., people can be resourceful when they are at a loss or driven to poverty).

12.21 打たねば鳴らぬ (Utaneba naranu). If you do not strike [the bell], it will not ring (i.e., without action there will be no result).

12.22 天は自ら助くる者を助く (Ten wa mizukara tasukuru mono o tasuku). Heaven helps those who help themselves.

12.23 正直は一生の宝 (Shôjiki wa isshô no takara). Honesty is a lifelong treasure.

12.24 志は木の葉に包む (Kokorozashi wa ko no ha ni tsutsumu). Wrap gifts in leaves (i.e., it does not matter what one gives as long as their whole heart is in it).

12.25 求めよ、さらば与えられん (Motomeyo, saraba ataeraren). Ask and you shall receive.

† From numerous books in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Timothy, etc.

12.26 情けは人の為ならず (Nasake wa hito no tame narazu). Kindness is not [merely] for others (i.e., karma will bring goodwill back to you).

12.27 移れば変わる世の習い (Utsureba kawaru yo no narai). Transience and change are only natural in this world.

12.28 笑いは人の薬 (Warai wa hito no kusuri). People medicine: laughter.

12.29 歳歳年年人同じからず (Saisai nennen hito onajikarazu). With each passing year people are not the same.

12.30 人間万事塞翁が馬 (Ningen banji saiô ga uma). All human affairs can be likened to old man Sai’s horse (i.e., one never knows what will prove to be auspicious or inauspicious).

† From a Chinese folktale about an old man, Sai, and his horse that ran away. The horse returned with another horse. His son fell off the new horse and broke his leg, but this made it so he did not have to join other young men when they were ordered to join the emperor’s army.

12.31 終わり良ければすべて良し (Owari yokereba subete yoshi). All’s well that ends well.

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