serene Japanese scene truisms

20 Truisms from Japan for Your Peace of Mind

While the following quotes may seem universally true, Japan’s status as an island nation is slightly different than other cultures. See if you notice how these quotes vary from the European ones or even those from the Middle East.

Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.
Meaning: Don’t let fear take control of your life.

Fall down seven times, get up eight.
Meaning: Keep going no matter how many times you fail.

Not knowing is Buddha.
Meaning: Ignorance is bliss.

Not seeing is a flower.
Meaning: Reality can’t compete with imagination.

Continuation is strength.
Meaning: Consistency and persistence are key to success.

The talented hawk hides its talons.
Meaning: Those with true skill don’t show off.

Early rising brings a three-penny gain.
Meaning: There are advantages to waking up early.

Even monkeys fall from trees.
Meaning: Everyone makes mistakes.

A frog in a well does not know the great ocean.
Meaning: People with limited experience have a narrow perspective.

The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
Meaning: Conformity is valued; being different can bring criticism.

Duty and human emotion.
Meaning: Sometimes duty and emotions conflict.

No rest for the poor.
Meaning: If you’re struggling, you can’t afford to be idle.

Misfortunes seldom come singly.
Meaning: When things start going bad, they often get worse.

Tears from a fish’s eyes.
Meaning: Fake tears or insincerity.

A righteous thief with wings is better than a king.
Meaning: Sometimes rebellion can be justified.

Gold coins to a cat.
Meaning: Wasting something valuable on someone who won’t appreciate it.

One who chases after two hares won’t catch even one.
Meaning: Focus is key to success.

Knowledge is power.
Meaning: Knowledge is essential for success.

Different bodies, same mind.
Meaning: Unity is strength.

Skillful but poor.
Meaning: Being good at many things but mastering none can lead to poverty.

Japan’s Island Perspective and Cultural Isolation

The unique perspective of an island nation like Japan is deeply influenced by its geographical isolation and the surrounding sea. This isolation has led to a sense of uniqueness and self-reliance, evident in their quotes and truisms. Japanese sayings often reflect introspection and personal responsibility, embodying the belief in the direct impact of one’s actions on their life.

European Diversity and Cross-Cultural Exchanges

In contrast, European proverbs are shaped by the continent’s history of interaction, invasion, and cultural exchange. The ease of overland travel in Europe makes exchanges easy, which leads to truisms that emphasize societal relationships, diplomacy, and human gatherings. European wisdom often reflects the nuances of these diverse cultural dynamics.

Desert Wisdom Around Jerusalem

In another part of the world the regions around Jerusalem, being at the crossroads of civilizations and characterized by desert landscapes, have proverbs that speak to survival, faith, and the transience of life. Influenced by the harsh environment and historical influx of diverse cultures, these sayings emphasize the importance of community, faith, and resilience in adversity.

Geographic and Cultural Influences on Wisdom

Each region’s geography and history shape its unique insights into human nature. Japan’s focus is more inward due to its island nature, valuing harmony and personal responsibility. European perspectives are shaped by centuries of cross-cultural interactions, while wisdom from the deserts around Jerusalem is survivalist and faith-centric.

These diverse geographical and historical contexts offer a rich diversity of wisdom. Learning from each other produces a more robust environment to survive going forward.


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