Encourage Someone with Eight Cool Japanese Proverbs


In Japan, people generally think of a person who uses Japanese proverbs everyday life as being educated and cultured. If a person does not know anything, he or she might be thought of as the opposite. Of course, foreigners are not required to know them. However, if you use them, I am sure you will be respected and admired. It’s very cool. Thus, I have collected six useful Japanese proverbs for encouraging someone.

List: Six Japanese Proverbs for Encouraging Someone

*Disclaimer: The translations between proverbs in different languages cannot be perfect. It is recommended to focus on the notes and the examples in Japanese rather than the translation.

1.失敗しっぱい成功 せいこう もと

Translation: Failure teaches success.

Meaning: If you are failed on something, you can pursue its cause and try to find its solutions, so that you can get closer to success.

Note: This proverb can be used for a person who made a (or especially the first) mistake or failure, sometimes to prevent him/her from repeatedly making the same mistakes.

A 今日きょう就職面接しゅうしょくめんせつは、あまり上手くうまいかなかった(いきませんでした)。

My job interview today didn't go well...

B 今日きょう失敗しっぱいしたところを修正しゅうせいすれば、次回じかい面接めんせつ大丈夫だいじょうぶ(だよ / ですよ)失敗しっぱい

成功 せいこう もと(だよ / ですよ)。

If you realize and fix today's mistakes, you'll be prepared for the next one! Failure teaches success.

2.きこそ もの 上手じょうずなれ

Translation: What one likes, one will do well.

Meaning: Everyone studies hard, devises and does the best on whatever s/he likes, so s/he can improve the skills naturally.

Note: This proverb can be used for a person who would like to try things s/he heartily likes not just for money or returns.

A かれ日本語にほんごが、あそこまで上手じょうずになるとはおもわなかった(よ / です)!

I didn't expect his Japanese to improve so much!

B かれ本当ほんと日本にほんき(だから / ですから)。きこそ もの 上手じょうずなれ(だね / ですね)。

He really loves Japan. What one likes, one will do well.


Translation: Tomorrow is another day.

Meaning: Even if you're too worried about tomorrow, it is another day. Whatever will be will be.

Note: This proverb can be used for a person who is nervous of doing something important or is disappointed with failures made by him or herself.

A 昨日きのう面接めんせつ大失敗だいしっぱい(しちゃった / しちゃいました)…。

I made a big mistake in a job interview yesterday.

B 明日あした明日あしたかぜく、(だよ / ですよ)。げんして(ください)。

Tomorrow is another day. Cheer up.


Translation: Easier said than done .

Meaning: Everyone can say something, but only a few of them can accomplish it.

Note: In practice, it is often omitted; “うはやすし”. I recommend you to use this proverb for a person who has gotten strong criticism.

A はんばかりされてもういやに(なるよ / なります)。

I got fed up with the criticism

B うはやすし、(だね / ですね)。Aさんは本当ほんとうえらいと(おもう / おもいます)。

That’s easier said than done. I think you are really great.

3. きてはんじょういちじょう

Translation: Half a tatami is enough to stand, and a single tatami is enough to sleep.

Meaning: One should be satisfied without desiring more wealth and rank than necessary.

Note: This may be of popular among Japanese elder generations. This proverb can be used for a person who lost something monetary.

A 会社かいしゃ倒産とうさんして(しまった / しまいました)…。

My own company has gone bankrupt…

B 人間にんげんは、きて半畳はんじょう一畳いちじょう。やりなおせ(るよ / ますよ)。

Human being is that half a tatami is enough to stand, and a tatami is enough to sleep. You can do it over again.

4. わりければすべて

Translation: All’s well that ends well.

Meaning: Events which have a good ending are good, even if something went wrong along the way.

Note: This proverb can be used for a person who made a mistake or failure along the way. It is sometimes used for yourself to justify a bad choice.

A 先生せんせいおこらせて(しまったね / しまいましたね)。 We made our teacher angry.

B わりければすべてし、やるべきことは(やろう / やりましょう)。 All is well that ends well. Let’s fulfill our duty.

5. 弘法こうぼうにもふであやま

Translation: Even Kobo (which is a man name like the Grecian epic poet Homer) sometimes nods.

Meaning: Anyone can make a mistake.

Note: This proverb can be used for a person who hesitates to start a new try or who has made a very basic mistake.

A しまった、見積書みつもりしょすうちがえて(いた / いました)。

Gosh, the figure on the quotation was wrong.

B 弘法こうぼうにもふであやまり、(だね / ですね)。なおすの(つだうよ / つだいますよ)。

Even Kobo sometimes nods. I will help you correct it.

6. じんくしててんめい

Translation: Do your best and leave the res t to Providence.

Meaning: Once you have done your best, you have nothing you can do more. Just let go of the outcome.

Note: This proverb can be used for a person who is waiting for a result, such as an examination or a job interview. This also can be used for a person who will start something, to encourage him or her to do his or her best.

A けんけっになってなににつかない(です)…。

I cannot settle down to do anything because the coming result distract me.

じんくしててんめいつ、きっとかって(いるよ / いますよ)。

Do your best and leave the rest to Providence. You will pass it.


How do you like these Japanese proverbs? I am sure that most Japanese natives know all of them. Please try to use when you need to encourage someone important. Just saying “がんばって” is of course no problem. However, if you can use them correctly, it will definitely appeal his or her minds. That’s the power of Japanese proverbs.

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Author and English Editor

Author - Takuya Tokiwa

Takuya is the co-founder, Project Director of Wasabi and a serial entrepreneur in the education field. He is utilizing all of his knowledge and experiences for innovating Japanese learning.

English Editor - Reka, Blue Kangaroo

Reka has been working as a native English teacher for the past 4 years and teaching students of all ages, background and ability, from 8-88 years of age, from absolute beginner to fluent. If you have any inquiry related English, please visit here.