Japanese Proverb: The hectic bird’s search for dinner



Photo by Aramand Agasi / Published under Flickr Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

By Greg Beck

Today’s Topic: 諺 / ことわざ / Proverb

Kanji: 忙しい鶏の夕餌探し

Kana: せわしいとりのゆうえささがし

Translation: The hectic bird’s search for dinner

Explanation: This one is basically all about me — a procrastinator! I think there’s an Aesop’s fable about the grasshopper and the ant that echos this, but this proverb takes the negative route of “The early bird catches the worm.” This is another good example of how Japanese maxims, rather than just stating bluntly what’s right or wrong, paint a picture of something undesirable to dissuade you, or something noble for you to aspire to. Apparently there are also several similar versions in Japanese, including, “lazy people work evenings” or “work through festivals”, because they put off what needs doing for too long. This may or may not have anything to do with why your co-workers work 12-hour days, but it’s probably best not to use this phrase on anyone who is your elder.


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