A Collection of Wisdom: Proverbs

Japanese Proverbs

Cold tea and cold rice are tolerable; cold looks and cold words arenít.

First the man takes a drink [liquor], then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes the man.

Because of their figure, vain women stay cold.

It is better to write down something once than read it ten times.

Character can be built on daily routine.

(Apply) fitting ability in the fitting place.

A single arrow is easily broken, but ten in a bundle arenít.

Poor is the person who does not know when he has had enough.

He who talks to a silent listener will soon stand naked.

Truth often comes out of a joke.

Instead of worrying, a strong man wears a smile.

Itís better to lie a little than to be unhappy.

A few kind words can warm three winter months.

In strategy, secrecy is highly regarded.

A crying child thrives.

You can only endure the weaknesses of others by knowing your own.

Flattery is the best persuader.

Books are preserved (parts of) minds.

When someone is really hungry, then there is no such thing as ďbad food.Ē

The person who admits ignorance shows it once; the one who tries to hide it shows it often.

Ten men, ten minds.

If there is a lid that doesnít fit, then there is a lid that does.

To a person that does not wander, there is not enlightenment.

Fall seven times, stand up eight.

The reverse side also has a reverse side.

Advertising is the mother of trade.

Itís better to not read at all than to believe everything you read.

The day you decide to do it is your lucky day.

An excess of courtesy is discourtesy.

Even a sheet of paper has two sides.

You canít see the whole sky through a bamboo tube.

The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.

Okinawan Proverbs

Samurai Proverbs

More Proverbs

Though small in land area, Japan has a population of over 130 million people, many of whom live in or near the capital city of Tokyo. The country is well known for being a giant in the industrial and technological worlds.

Japan is an island chain with four main islands plus about 4,000 other small islands. The country has lots of hills, mountains, active volcanoes, and plant and animal life. Almost all Japanese people have similar ethnic backgrounds, and speak Japanese.

Throughout much of Japanese history from 0 AD and on, the Japanese continuously made visits to China and observed, learned, and adopted aspects of their culture. Around the 1800s, Japan also began observing Western practices and adopted them as well. Around that time, Japan quickly became modernized and industrialized.

In the early to mid 1900s, Japan began warring with and trying to conquer many regions, including China. In the 1940s, they tried to take over the entire world, but were defeated in World War II due to atomic bomb attacks from America. They signed a peace treaty shortly thereafter. After World War II, Japan built itself into one of the worldís premiere economic powers, with such corporate giants as Sony and Toyota.

Themes of Japan include rice, technology, business, apartment buildings, earthquakes, shopping, baseball, sumo wrestling, pachinko (a game similar to pinball), geisha women (female entertainers for male businessmen and friends), fishing, tea, vegetables, soy, Confucianism, Buddhism (including Zen Buddhism), Shinto (a native religion), poetry, painting, plays, sculptures, decorating, calligraphy, music, dancing, samurai warrior culture, and martial arts.