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Tadpoles will become frogs. [There is little or no hope that they will develop further.]

Take an umbrella before you get wet. [Be prepared. Cf. Prevention is better than cure.]

Tall trees, much wind. [Tall trees catch much wind.]

Ten men, ten bellies. [Ten men, ten minds.]

The after-wit of a fool. [Cf. After-wit is everybody's wit.]

The belly, too, is part of me. [Be temperate in eating and drinking.]

The Buddhist prayers of a devil.

This saying is used when a cruel and wicked man feigns kindness and sympathy, as when someone who has been on bad terms with a deceased person attends the funeral service for appearance's sake and chants a sutra, when actually he has no sympathy with the sorrowing family, is spoken of as "the sutra-chanting of a devil" and is despised because of the inherent deceit.

The buttocks are heavy. [To be lazy or inactive]

The buttocks are in contact with fire. [To be pressed by urgent business]

The castle is not overthrown by precaution.

The cat that does not mew catches rats. [The efficient person goes about his or her business quietly.]

The cherry tree is known among others by its flowers. [Describes a person who stands out among his fellows.]

The conger eel has one span of life, the lobster also one span of life. [Each has its span of life. Cf. Life is but a span.]

The crow that mimics a cormorant gets drowned. [Keep within your limitations - including your current abilities and skills.]

The ears grow fat. [To have a trained or cultivated ear]

The eyes are distant. [To be farsighted; to have grand ideas]

The eyes are high. [The ideas are lofty]

The eyes grow fat. [To have a trained eye]

The eyes speak as much as the mouth.

The fruits are few. [E.g. To make many promises but fail to keep them]

The hare's midday nap. [Inattention may prove fatal; due attention is called for. It refers to an Aesop's fable in which a hare lost a race because he took a nap on the way.]

The hasty hand bungles things. [Hasty ones may make blunders more frequently.]

The hasty hand will do things wrong. [Haste may increase the risk of errors, that is.]

The hawk with talent hides its talons [The person who knows most often says least.]

The loins are strong. [To be firm, brave]

The loud bark of the brainless dog. [Inefficient people may go to extremes of jabber or at least talk overly much while capable persons remain quiet or attain their goals, rather.]

The lunch is from previous preparations.

The monkey remains a monkey although wearing the dress of a nobleman. [Avoid doing what is beyond you and thereby making something sad of yourself.]

The nightingale that has found a plum tree. [That is, a fin place to sing. It refers to the condition of a man who has been placed in a suitable and comfortable position.]

The nose opens. [To be amazed]

The person who goes ahead controls others.

The river-bred person comes to an end in the river. Kawadachi wa kawa de hatsuru. [Lots of persons die in surroundings they are used to.]

The self enters. [To be interested]

The thief is eaten by the dogs. [Even when the dogs were chewing up a thief, if he made no outcry he was greatly admired by the Japanese for his self-control, asserts Buchanan (!).]

The thing in hand. [One's strong point.]

The unskillful talk long. [Poor speakers hold forth a long time. Cf. Brevity is the soul of wit.

The warrior lives an honorable life even in poverty. [It is beneath his dignity to beg for food.]

The wind that comes in through a crack is cold. [For such a draft may bring on some illness. So better take care of small trifles, as you later could have to deal with big consequences otherwise.]

The wise hawk hides his talons. [A truly wise person does not make a show of his resources and ability. Cf. It is a fool who does not hide his wisdom (at times, when convenient).]

The young of frogs are frogs. [Used to discourage people from trying to rise above their station in life. Cf. Like begets like.]

There are those who ride sedans, those who carry sedans, and those who make straw sandals for the sedan bearers. [The wealthy are able to take vehicles whenever they go out, while others barely eke out a living by carrying them or other lowly work.]

There is no being bored with precautions. [One cannot be too cautious.]

There is no end if you look up. [In modern Japan it may have a positive ring to it.]

There is no hero in the eyes of his servant. [Perhaps because faults are revealed through much association.]

There is no instance of a nude man dropping anything. [Destitute people are not likely to lose anything. If you have anything, exercise caution lest you lose it.]

Things sweet to the mouth do not necessarily nourish the belly. [What at first seems good and desirable is not always best.]

Those who speak do not know. [A wise man is silent while an ignorant man chatters. Cf. Who knows most says least.]

Though she may be a beauty, it is but one layer of skin. [Beauty is but skin deep.]

Though small a needle is not to be swallowed. [Even small things are to be handled with care.]

Though the wind blows, the mountain does not move. [A self-controlled person maintains calm enough.]

Though you see the back of another you cannot see your own. [But wise persons hardly shy away from noticing their own defects.]

Thunderclap from a clear sky. [A bolt from the blue, a complete surprise]

To act the sleeping badger. [To pretend not to see or know]

To agree with one's mouth. [To suit one's taste]

To be ear-learned. [To have learning because of things heard, or through hearing learned discourses. This is often said of people who have not gone to school, or who have read or travelled extensively.]

To be foolishly honest. [To be honest to one's harm is sadly not greatly admired.]

To built a castle on sand. [Cf. To build a house on sand. About a foolish and useless undertaking.]

To caution put in caution. [One cannot be too careful. Cf. Hear twice before you speak once.]

To close the anus after breaking wind. [To assume a look of innocence after committing an indiscretion]

To cross a stone bridge by tapping on it. [This describes the caution of a blind man tapping with his stick as he walks across a stone bridge. The proverb is used metaphorically to describe an over-cautious person.]

To cross over the world with a single arm. [To be fully self-supporting. Cf. To paddle one's own canoe]

To dye the finger. [To have a finger in; to make an attempt; to try]

To elevate one's nose. [To be proud; be boastful]

To fasten to the eyes. [To observe with care]

To hang a large stone from a lotus thread. [To do the impossible. Cf. To sweep the sea with a broom.]

To hang up a sheep's head at the shopfront and sell dog meat. [- is crafty butcher's trick. Cf. To cry wine and sell vinegar]

To have a foot wound. [To have a guilty conscience]

To have a robber watch the money. [To give a position of financial responsibility to a notoriously dishonest person]

To have even the hairs of the anus pulled out. [To be fleeced of everything]

To hold it eight-tenths of an inch above the eyes. [It refers to the custom of holding a thing most respectfully. This is done as a matter of ceremony when making a presentation to or receiving something from a superior.]

To laugh embracing one's abdomen. [To hold one's sides with laughter]

To lean a ladder against the clouds. [An impractical enterprise]

To lose face and eyes. [To suffer a let-down; to lose face; to disgrace oneself]

To pass through the eyes. [To scan or read rapidly]

To perform a glorious exploit with undrawn sword. [A comment. It applied to warriors on the battlefield but it is now refers to someone who attains his object without going to extremes.]

To place into the head. [To take under consideration]

To put bean paste on food. [A secondary meaning: "to make a mess of things" or "to make a failure of a project]

To put forth the feet. [To reveal a secret. Cf. To let the cat out of the bag]

To put on a cat show. [To feign innocence. In Japanese lore the cat is said to have the power to dance bewitchingly.]

To put your biceps into it. [To take great interest in; to show a zeal for]

To read a person's belly, or mind. [To read another's thoughts]

To ripen in the ears. [To hear and understand well]

To search for a needle at the bottom of the water. [Cf. To look for a needle in a haystack]

To speak of a needle as if it were a club. [To exaggerate. Cf. To make a mountain out of a molehill]

To step on the second foot. Ni-no-ashi wo fumu. [To hesitate, balk, or demur]

To stick out the tongue in secret. [To laugh in one's sleeve]

To take without wetting one's hand. [A slight effort; a small amount of labour. This saying is derived from fishing]

To use a double tongue. [To tell a lie; be double faced]

To use a million hands. [To try all possible means. Cf. To leave no stone unturned]

To walk cutting the wind with your shoulders. [To strut along; swagger. The proud samurai often walked in that manner.]

To write a number on water. [A figure of speech for a useless thing to do]


Unless you have been a retainer you cannot use a retainer. [Retainer: servant, soldier, supporter. Know your trade - in this case: good bossing.]


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