Japanese Proverb: The face becomes a mirror of the soul


By Greg Beck

Today’s Topic: 諺 / ことわざ / Proverb

Kanji: 顔は心の鏡なり

Kana: かおはこころのかがみなり

Translation: The face becomes a mirror of the soul.

Long before I ever came across this saying, I believed in this deeply. It is important to note that this is not just the Japanese equivalent of “the eyes are the gateway to the soul”, although I’m sure there is some of that meaning in there as well. かお means “face”, and that is precisely what they mean, but this is not just about reading someone’s intentions at a given moment. The word なり means “become”, and I would interpret this to mean that a life of negativity makes for an ugly face, while a life of smiling and positivity, even when you become old and wrinkled, looks good. Obviously most of us are somewhere in between, but if you have a vain spot in your heart, this is one excuse to be a better person.

Small disclaimer: yes 心 means “heart”, but in matters of looking within, it is interchangeable with “soul”.

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