Making sense out of Japanese proverbs



I was never able to make any sense out of the following Japanese proverbs or idiomatic expressions:

'Hit your head against a corner of a cake of tofu, and die.'

'take extract from one's dirt/wax under the nail, and drink it'

They are nonsense to me, and the latter is also disgusting. How can you die in such a way? What is the purpose of drinking such thing? How can you make a sense out of them?


Posted 2011-12-13T17:26:20.457


Maybe, the first one is saying you have a soft head. The second one might be like saying "eat s**t" in English... – silvermaple – 2011-12-14T00:40:29.683

1The first reminds me of things along the lines of "could drown in a puddle"/"could trip over his own shadow" in English – nkjt – 2011-12-14T15:17:24.430

The first one is from rakugo, which sometimes spout out nonsense. – syockit – 2011-12-31T14:49:25.303




Used to say that a person is so stupid (that he would believe this and real find a piece tofu to die). (source)


Use the dirt under the nail of ( some expertise ) as a drug, (you'll get some of his talent). (source)


It'll be hard to make any sense out of them if you see them alone. I'd recommend you to find some reference.


Posted 2011-12-13T17:26:20.457

Reputation: 3 626

@Mudassir What about a reference like this: ? It's not as complete as a book would be... but, there are at least a few proverbs (with their explanations,) listed.

– summea – 2012-02-29T00:47:29.533

1@summea: Thats really nice. Thanks for sharing. – Mudassir – 2012-02-29T03:55:55.657

+1 for nice explanation. Can you please quote some source where I can get Japanese proverbs/idioms/phrases with a good English explanation. – Mudassir – 2011-12-15T12:33:21.953

@Mudassir I haven't come across one yet ... – fefe – 2011-12-15T12:44:24.400