Japanese KOTOWAZA related to foods (ことわざ )

It’s said people can do things easily in English, “A piece of cake!”.
Japanese says “Before breakfast (朝飯前)”. This means for little time from getting up to breakfast. In Korea, Eating cold rice porridge. In Spain, pan comida(already ate pan means).


Wouldn’t it be interesting to say the same saying differently in each country?

Today I introduce the sayings that comparing Japan and the world’s.


The Japanese call a lucky incident as “Tanabota (たなぼた)”.
It means a botamochi (ぼたもち) falls from a shelf into the mouth.
Botamochi is called Ohagi which is the sticky rice ball coated with sweetened red beans, soybean flour or sesame.
It seems the days when sugar was a luxury ingredient.
If I had been they, would not like this incident rather…

In other countries

In Indonesia, durian falls from trees.
In Korea, tea and steamed rice cakes are served at midnight.

People are more interested in the practical over the aesthetic. (花より団子)


This means valuing gain over honor. Japanese eat foods while admiring flowers under the cherry blossoms trees in early April.
So, in Japan, we say “Dumplings are better than cherry blossoms (Hana yori danogo)”.

In other countries


In UK,”Pudding rather than fame”.


there is “Bread is better than the songs of birds” also in western countries.

A small gift brings often a great reward. (海老で鯛を釣る)


In Japan, We say ” Catching  a sea bream with a prawn (Ebi de Tai wo tsuru)”.

Why sea bream? Because, this fish is very popular as auspicious fish in Japan.

In other countries

In western countries, Throw a sprat to catch a whale as well.
But, Why do you catch the whales? You are against whaling, right?

In Spain they catch trouts with sardines.
In UK, they scatter sardines to catch mackerel or herring.

Within a little head, great wit. (山椒は小粒だがピリリと辛い)


In Japan, “Sansho, Japanese pepper is a small but piquant spicy (Sansho wa kotsubu daga piriri to karai)”.

In other countries​

In Thailand,  Not Sansho but red hot chili pepper. In Korea and Indonesia are the chili pepper.

In France and Italy, “The best spices is in a small bag”. 

Every sayings mean similar, right?

It's better than nothing.(どぶろくは茶よりまし)


In Japan, Doburoku, unrefined Sake is for poor once upon a time.
So, we say “Doburoku is better than green tea because, we can get drunk. (Doburoku wa cha yori mashi.)”

In Spain, hard bread is better than none. Spanish may be not able to eat German bread. That bread is too hard.

In other countries​


“Better a small fish than an empty dish” in Germany.

“Better some of a pudding than none of a pie.” in UK. 

In Denmark, it’s light beer. Are you make a fool of Pilsner?

The grass is always greener on the other side. (隣の芝生は青い)


We often see other’s one is better than ours. In Japan, other people’s Botamochi is bigger than mine (隣のぼたもちは大きく見える).

In other countries​​


In Korea, other people’s cooked rice is more white.

In Bulgaria, other people’s eggs have two yolks.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.


The food you can avoid illness. In Japan, persimmons, oranges, apples and saury. 
Herring in Netherlands.
Britain and America are apples.
Iran is milk.

Proof is better than argument. (論より証拠)


In Uk, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” The pudding is as same as Botamochi in Japan. Hahaha
In Korea, it’s rice cakes.

In Japan

Japanese says “Only the man who had eaten sea bream and flounder can distinguish their difference.”

It’s interesting that we have similar proverbs in different countries. People don’t change that much.

Today I introduced a proverb related to food😊

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