10 Funniest Japanese Idioms 

 August 18, 2020

By  Paolo Palabrica

Even the Japanese language isn’t exempted from idioms. The Japanese language has very sensible and yet, quite quirky idioms embedded in their language. 

In this article, you will be able to speak and explain these funny idioms to your Japanese friends.

10 Funniest Japanese Idioms

Juu Nin To Iro (じゅうにんといろ)

This one may be a bit funny to hear. The direct translation for this idiom is “10 people, 10 colors”.

Although it does seem quite vague, it has the same meaning as the English language’s “Different Strokes for Different Folks”. It means that every person, has their own color, and what may work for them, may not work for some.

Saru mo ki kara ochiru (さるもきからおちる)

The direct translation for this one is “Even monkeys fall off from trees”. It’s a subtle way of saying that even those who were made to climb trees, in this case, monkeys, can fall sometimes.

This means that “Nobody is perfect”.

Jaku niku kyou shoku (じゃくにくきょうしょく)

This idiom, when directly translated, means “The weak are meat, the strong eat”. They really do have a funny way of constructing idioms.

This one basically means “survival of the fittest” wherein, the weak will be food for the strong.

Nana korobi ya oki (ななころびやおき)

This may be the easiest to understand, it’s “fall seven times, get up eight times.” It’s pretty straightforward and it simply means “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

Esha jouri (えしゃじょうり)

This directly translates to, “the meeting person is always separated”. To which it probably means that everybody you meet has to part in some way. Bittersweet isn’t it?

Ki shi kai sei (きしかいせい)

This is another funny idiom that seems a bit too morbid for my taste. It means “Waking up from death and returning to life.” Although it might seem understandable, the real meaning behind it is different.

It talks about turning bad situations (death) and getting stronger or wiser after.

Ichi go Ichi e (いちごいちえ)

One Period, One Encounter. Funnily enough, it should probably be familiar to everyone who is reading. You Only Live Once (YOLO)’s equivalent in the Japanese language.

Aku in Akka (あくいんあっか)

This means “evil cause, evil result”. Which probably talks about karma in some sense. Maybe some sort of “You reap what you sow” if we base it in English idioms.

Meh ga Katai (めがかたい)

This is one of the idioms that are very vague. They probably have an underlying history or meaning for it, but this one means “eyes are hard”. Does it mean that you are so tired that your eyes are hard? Or does it mean that your eyes are so dry, it has hardened? 

Well, it’s none of the above. It simply means that you are still not sleepy, and therefore the eyes are “hard”.

Hana ga Takai (はながたかい)

“Nose is high” sounds really funny if you think about it. It’s hard to derive any meaning from it. This one means that you are proud of something or someone.

In the same way, when we are proud about something, we usually raise our noses because we are proud.


These Japanese idioms are really hard to understand if they were not explained well. The idioms in the Japanese language are definitely funny since they seem so cryptic and yet possess a really well-thought-of meaning behind these idioms.

What about you? Do you know any Japanese idioms that you can add here? Share it with us in the comments!

Paolo Palabrica

Paolo is a software engineer in the Philippines whose hobby is learning languages. He has self-studied Japanese for over 3 years, and now speaks 3 languages and 3 Philippine dialects.

Your Signature

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter now!