Do you know the term kotowaza? It’s the Japanese equivalent to what we call proverbs; words of wisdom and truth that are passed down from generation to generation.
This will be the first in an ongoing series of short articles that will share these many words of wisdom. You will be surprised at how different, yet similar, many of these kotowaza are to our own language.
一石二鳥 (isseki nichou)
This is one of the most often used phrases in either language. Breaking down the kanji, we have the characters for “one”, “stone”, “two”, and “bird”. Figured it out yet? In English, we would say “Kill two birds with one stone”.
余り物には福がある (amarimono ni wa fuku ga aru)
This phrase literally means “Good fortune is found in leftovers”. However, if we consider that the ‘leftovers’ in this situation can also mean ‘excess’ or ‘anything one doesn’t need any more’, we might think of the word ‘garbage.’ Therefore, we can determine that “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure”.
蛙の子は蛙 (kaeru no ko wa kaeru)
This kotowaza states the obvious by saying “the child of a frog is a frog”. Of course, the child frog will grow to be similar in all ways to its parent, so we can therefore say “Like father, like son”.
Look forward to next time!