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Proverbs are much used in Japan, and often expressed in the form of hints or suggestions that refer to fuller proverb forms. It is much as in English, where "A word to the wise . . ." refers to "A word to the wise will suffice" or "A word to the wise is sufficient", which is more common, but lacks the rhyme.

Japanese is complicated, an often considered to be the most complicated writing system in the world. It contains logograms - written characters that represent words or phrases. Several thousand logograms are in regular use. Each has an intrinsic meaning or range of meanings. The total number of Japanese (kanji) logograms is well over 50,000.

There are at least 30,000 Japanese proverbs. Here is a little selection from books and other sources with English translations or equivalents or near-equivalents of some. There is a link to a simple glossary of Buddhist words (in the lower left corner), and a booklist below.


Japanese proverbs, Literature  

Akiyama, Aisaburo. Japanese Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases. 3. utg. Yokohama: Yoshikawa Book Store, 1940. ⍽▢⍽ Proverbs in Japanese (both in the romanised form and and by way of pictograms, are followed by translations into English and approximations, equivalents or near-equivalents in English. Example: "Chie wa kodashi. Translation: "Take out your wisdom little by little. Approximation: "Use your wisdom as the case may be." (s. 30)

Bownas, Geoffrey and Anthony Thwaite. Japanese Verse. London: Penguin Classics, 2009 (1964). ⍽▢⍽ A Unesco-sponsored work pof about 700 poems. They include tanka amd haiku, such "Spartan" poetry forms that are soaked in allusions, and in accord with stiff rules of how to form the various types of poems. Some are fit for proverbs.

Buchanan, Daniel Crump. Japanese Proverbs and Sayings. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965. ⍽▢⍽ 2,500 proverbs and expressions, well explained, with good translations.

de Lange, William, og Kyoko Suzuki, ed. A Dictionary of Japanese Proverbs. Warren, CT: Floating Worlds Editions, 2013. ⍽▢⍽ About a thousand proverbs. Some of them are translated for the first time.

Ehmann, Paul, coll., tr. Die Sprichwörter und Bildlichen Ausdrücke des Japanischen Sprache. (Supplement der "Mittheilungen" der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Natur und Völkerkunde Ostasiens). Tokyo: Druck der Tokyo Tsukiji Type Foundry, 1897.

Galef, David, oms. Japanese Proverbs: Wit and Wisdom. Ill. Jun Hashimoto. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2012. ⍽▢⍽ The book consists of Even Monkeys Fall from Trees (1990) and Even a Stone Buddha Can Talk (2000), with revisions. David Galef is an American professor.

Heinemann, Klaus-Robert, oms. 700 Japanische Sprichwörter. Stuttgart: Rascher Verlag, 1959. ⍽▢⍽ Good.

Hilhorst, Ronald. English–Japanese, Japanese–English Proverb Dictionary. Online. ⍽▢⍽ 545 Japanese proverbs with English and Dutch equivalents or translations. [Japanese proverbs: English and Dutch equivalents]

Huzii, Otoo. Japanese proverbs. Tokyo: Maruzen /The Board of Tourist industry, Japanese government railways, 1940. ⍽▢⍽ About 300 proverbs, and a clarifying foreword by Professor Huzii, who was a doctor of literature.

Okada, Rokuo. Japanese Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases. Tokyo: Japan Travel Bureau, 1955. ⍽▢⍽ Okada selected 513 of the most popular Japanese proverbs and commented on them. He had about 30,000 proverbs to choose among.

Zona, Guy A. Even Withered Trees Give Prosperity to the Mountain and Other Proverbs of Japan. New York: Touchstone/Simon and Schustler, 1996. ⍽▢⍽ About 700 Japanese proverbs in English, without explanations.

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Japanese proverbs, sayings of Japan, English translations of proverbs of Japan. USER'S GUIDE: [Link]
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