Words of wisdom from people of past eras can nourish the soul and guide us on our way. One way to absorb this type of collective wisdom is through the reading of proverbs. Proverbs are ancient or old-time sayings that speak wisdom to us, often on many different levels at once.
If you have an interest in all-things-Japan, in travel, or in both, you may enjoy learning some Japanese travel proverbs. A good proverb yields insights not only about the subject of the proverb itself, but also about both the speaker (the creator of the proverb) and the listener/reader.
Here are 3 Japanese travel proverbs for you to ponder, learn from and enjoy:
1. The Philosophical:
Here is one attributed to the famous Japanese poet, Basho:
“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.” ~ Matsuo Basho
The meaning of this one is pretty clear. In the literal sense, it could be taken to mean that there are many ways to the same destination. In a more philosophical sense, it speaks to the idea of not just imitating the appearance or specific steps of another person’s journey, but rather to let their journey inspire your own unique path.
2. The Romantic:
Here is a Japanese travel proverb that has a romantic undertone:
“Who travels for love finds a thousand miles not longer than one.” ~ Traditional Proverb
From a literal perspective, this proverb tells us that a love of the journey may be just as important as arriving. More figuratively, it tells us that anything that we set out to do with love and passion will be an infinitely easier task than something that lacks such passion.
3. On Being A Fish Out Of Water:
This one talks about human folly and what it is like to feel like a fish out of water:
“When you travel, you can afford to look a little bit foolish.” ~ Traditional Proverb
When looked at from the perspective of travel, this proverb seems to be telling us that it is okay – even natural – to loosen your normal social observances and rules when you are on the road. On another level, this one seems to speak to the idea that sometimes it is okay to step a bit outside of ourselves and have a little fun.
Whether you are considering a trip to Japan or just enjoy learning more about the culture, take a moment to ponder each of these Japanese travel proverbs as a way to enrich your journey.