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Kotowaza – Two Rabbits

I’ve been meaning to give this blog a new lease on life by adding more things that interest me personally, postings related to my own study of the Japanese language and culture, in addition to the English resources for my students I’ve been posting, in the hope that it will attract a larger more varied audience. One of the things I’ve been meaning to write about is Japanese kotowaza, or sayings and proverbs.

The first installment of this series is a saying that occurs to me every time I play tennis:


Ni to wo ou mono wa itto o ezu

He that hunts two hares loses both.


Between two stools you fall to the ground.


Whenever I try to pick up a tennis ball that is near feet before my partner can return a ball to me, 9 out of 10 times I fail to both pick the ball on the ground up and hit the ball that’s flying towards me. And yet, I try, try, try again to get both balls. When will I ever learn?

Another Japanese saying with a similar meaning is abuhachitorazu (アブ蜂取らず):


Chase two hares and catch neither.


If you are too greedy, you’ll end up with nothing at all.


You have one girlfriend. Don’t start after another. You’ll fall between two stools.


She had to choose between a career and marriage. She knew she couldn’t have it both ways.


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Waste not! ★★

The proverb “Waste not, want not” came up in class. It’s a fairly common saying that can be used for a variety of situations. It meant that if you use a commodity or resource, such as money or oil, carefully and without extravagance, you will never be in need. In other words, if you conserve something today, you won’t run out of it later. In Japanese the proverb can be translated as “浪費しなければ不自由することはない;骨身惜しむな無駄惜しめ”. Got it?


Speak! English Salon/スピーク英会話サロン