B14 – Proverbs Pt.2


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Show Notes for bonus 14 of our Podcast – Proverbs Pt.2

Proverb Notes

Proverbs Pt.2

Todays Bonus episode was a short one, one to showcase a few new proverbs we have come across during our research into Japanese History. So lets get into it.


出る杭は打たれる。

Deru kui wa utareru.

Literally: The stake that sticks up gets hammered down.

Meaning: If you stand out, you will be subject to criticism. If you stand out you will be forced back in line.


知らぬが仏。

Shiranu ga hotoke.

Literally: Not knowing is Buddha.

Meaning: Ignorance is bliss. / What you don’t know can’t hurt you.


見ぬが花。

Minu ga hana.

Literally: Not seeing is a flower.

Meaning: Reality can’t compete with imagination.


花は桜木人は武士

Hana wa sakuragi, hito wa bushi.

Literally: Of flowers, the cherry blossom; of men, the warrior.

Meaning: As the cherry blossom is considered foremost among flowers, so the warrior is foremost among men.

For this one there is a little history behind it. We can find the origins of this proverb in the Medieval Period with it also renderred by others as

‘Among blossoms the cherry blossoms, among men the warrior.’

The association with cherry blossoms and Samurai was established by the kabuki theatre which also helped to popularise the proverb; this occuring during the mid Edo Period.

The proverb’s theme is echoed in a poem attributed to the priest Ikkyū in the Mottomo no sōshi dating from 1634.

“Among men the samurai [is best]; among pillars, cypress wood; among fish, the sea bream; among robes, magenta; and among cherry blossoms, those of Yoshino”.

We also see this proverb appearing in the Kanadehon Chushingura from 1748 and later we see this proverb evoked in the Japanese military as a motivation following the outbreak of World War II.


案ずるより産むが易しい。

Anzuru yori umu ga yasashii.

Literally: Giving birth to a baby is easier than worrying about it.

Meaning: Fear is greater than the danger.

Header Image: Quotation from pixabay.

References

  • Japanese Proverbs – Wikipedia
  • Bruce Gamble (2014). Invasion Rabaul: The Epic Story of Lark Force, the Forgotten Garrison, January – July 1942. Zenith Press.
  • Catharina Blomberg (2013). The Heart of the Warrior: Origins and Religious Background of the Samurai System in Feudal Japan. Routledge.
  • Daniel Crump Buchanan, ed. (1965). Japanese Proverbs and Sayings. University of Oklahoma Press.
  • Haruo Shirane (2013). Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900. Columbia University Press.
  • Sepp Linhart; Sabine Frühstück (1998). The Culture of Japan as Seen through Its Leisure. SUNY Press.

You can listen to the full episode over on Anchor here: Japan Archives, or wherever you listen to Podcasts.

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Be sure to check out Heather’s blog on lifes little adventures here: HeatherOverYonder.

Heavenly Spear