Introducing Japanese Proverbs, Kotowaza vol.1

ishibashii o tataite wataru

Following from the previous “10 Famous Japanese Proverbs”, I’ll continue to introduce 5 Japanese proverbs each time 🙂
This time, I’ll show you these five. All are very popular for us Japanese. 😉

Introducing 5 Japanese proverbs, vol.1 Video

郷に入れば郷に従え ごうにはいれば ごうにしたがえ

go ni haireba go ni shitagae

Romaji: Gō ni haireba gō ni shitagae

Direct translation: When enter Gō (郷 -region, countryside), follow the rules of the region.

Equivalent English Proverb: When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Meaning: When visit a foreign land, follow the customs of the region. Also, when you are in an unfamiliar situation, you should follow the lead of those who know the ropes.

Example: If visit Japan, you may want to use chopsticks when eat meals. Gō ni haireba gō ni shitagae desu yo.


失敗は成功のもと しっぱいは せいこうのもと

seikou wa shippai no moto

Romaji: Shippai wa seikō no moto

Direct translation: Failure is the source of success.

Equivalent English Proverb: Failure teaches success. Every failure is a stepping stone that leads to success.

Example: Don’t worry even you make mistakes. If you continue your efforts, you’ll succeed in the end. Shippai wa seikō no moto desu yo.


思い立ったが吉日 おもいたったが きちじつ

omoitatta ga kichijitsu

Romaji: Omoitatta ga kichijitsu

Direct translation: When an idea comes up in your mind, it’s the best time to take the action.

Equivalent English Proverb: Strike while the iron is hot.  Make hay while the sun shines

Example: What a great idea! You better do it now! Omoitatta ga kichijitsu dayo.


十人十色 じゅうにんといろ


Romaji: JÅ«nin toiro

Direct translation: ten people, ten colors

Equivalent English Proverb: Different strokes for different folks.

Example: Our group has great people with variety of talents and personalities! Jūnin toiro dane 🙂 


石橋を叩いて渡る いしばしを たたいて わたる

ishibashii o tataite wataru

Romaji: Ishibashi o tataite wataru.

Direct translation: Hit the stone bridge and cross

Equivalent English expression: He is an extremely prudent person.

Example: Wow.. she is so cautious and slow. She always does Ishibashi o tataite wataru.


How was it? Dō deshita ka?
Do you have your favorite Kotowaza?
Hope you enjoyed to learn the 5 Japanese proverbs introduced this time!


* If you wonder what are “dane”, “dayo”, desu yo” – ending particles, you way want to watch these two videos 🙂

casual ending particles

all about particles


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