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It’s quite likely that you have heard the phrase, “fall down 7 times, get up 8”. But did you know that it originated as a Japanese saying? Nana korobi yaoki (七転び八起き), which translates to “7 falls, 8 rises” is a very well-known kotowaza (ことわざ), or proverb. Here is our list of 10 more famous Japanese proverbs.

YouTube Video: 10 Japanese Proverbs explained


  1. 猿も木から落ちる

Romaji: Saru mo ki kara ochiru.

Translation: Even monkeys fall from trees.

Meaning: Everyone makes mistakes. Monkeys are very good at climbing trees, but even they mess up sometimes. Nobody’s perfect.

Example: If someone makes a mistake, then that’s okay. Even the best fall down sometimes. Even monkeys fall from trees.

  1. 蓼食う虫も好き好き

Romaji: Tade kuu mushi mo suki zuki.

Translation: There are even bugs that eat knotweed.

Meaning: Everyone has their own likes/tastes. Knotweed is an invasive species of plant that is quite bitter. But there are even bugs that love to eat this plant. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. To each their own.

Example: No matter how strange tasting/looking something is, there’s bound to be someone out there who loves it. After all, there are even bugs that eat knotweed.

  1. 蛙の子は蛙

Romaji: Kaeru no ko wa kaeru.

Translation: Child of a frog is a frog.

Meaning: Like father, like son.

Example: It’s no surprise that the famous singer Enrique Iglesias’s father was also a singer too. The child of a frog is a frog!

  1. 覆水盆に返らず

Romaji: Fukusui bon ni kaerazu.

Translation: Spilt water will not return to the tray.

Meaning: Don’t cry over spilt milk.

Example: Don’t be sad about things that have already happened, because you can’t go back in time and change it. What’s done is done. Spilt water will not return to the tray.

Note:Ato no matsuri” (後の祭り) is another …continue reading