Japanese Proverb: Head cool, feet warm, stomach 80%

By Greg Beck

Today’s Topic: 諺 / ことわざ / Proverb

Kanji: 頭寒足熱腹八合

Kana: ずかんそくねつはらはちごう

Translation: Head cool, feet warm, stomach 80%.

With all the new JETs arriving all over Japan, this proverb holds a lot of great advice. I’m sure you all hear plenty at the many orientations about how to stay healthy and enjoy your time in Japan, but this short and simple proverb says it all.

Keep a cool head, both literally and in temperament. Getting upset will never help you in a tough situation and during these sweltering summer months, you will want keep a sensu or uchiwa (two types of Japanese fan) nearby. A hand towel for your sweaty face, or to dry your face after a splash of water to cool down, might not be a bad idea either.

Keep your feet warm. This doesn’t mean wear toe socks, although they do feel good. Basically, stay active. Exercise helps your body balance your hormones and increases endorphin levels, meaning it quite literally makes you happier.

A stomach at 80% could be interpreted as dieting or not over-eating, but I think of in terms of good rap artists who always talking about “staying hungry”. A content person is less likely to change or keep an open mind to new ideas. Never let yourself be satisfied with the status quo. Keep fighting to improve yourself and your surroundings so you don’t stagnate.