Japanese proverbs

A bit of Japanese wisdom expressed in Japanese proverbs.

A Japanese proverb (諺, ことわざ, kotowaza) may take the form of:

Although "proverb" and "saying" are practically synonymous, the same cannot be said about "idiomatic phrase" and "four-character idiom". Not all kan'yōku and yojijukugo are proverbial. For instance, the kan'yōku kitsune no yomeiri (狐の嫁入り, literally 'a fox's wedding', meaning "a sunshower") and the yojijukugo koharubiyori (小春日和, literally 'small spring weather', meaning "Indian summer" – warm spring-like weather in early winter) are not proverbs. To be considered a proverb, a word or phrase must express a common truth or wisdom; it cannot be a mere noun.