Flowers in Japanese Proverbs

Fortnight Lily

Ian D. Keating/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

There are quite a few Japanese proverbs that include flowers. A flower is hana in Japanese. Although hana also means, "nose", it should be obvious by the context what is meant, so don't worry. Also, they appear different when written in kanji (as they do not share the same kanji characters). Click this link to learn the kanji character for flowers.

Here are some Japanese proverbs including the word flower.

  • Iwanu ga hana 言わぬが花 --- Literally translated as, "Not speaking is the flower". It means, "Some things are better left unsaid; Silence is golden".
  • Takane no hana 高嶺の花 --- Literally translated as, "Flower on a high peak". It means, "something out of one's reach". Some things are beautiful to look at, but realistically, there is no way you can get them. The object might be something that you want very much but can't have.
  • Hana ni arashi 花に嵐 --- There is a famous Japanese saying, "Tsuki ni muragumo, hana ni arashi (The moon is often hidden by a cloud; flowers are often scattered by the wind)". "Hana ni arashi" is a shortened version of, "Tsuki ni muragumo, hana ni arashi". It means that "life often brings misfortune at a time of great happiness" or "Nothing is certain in this world".
  • Hana yori dango 花より団子 --- Literally translated as, "Dumplings rather than flowers". It means that the practical is preferred over the aesthetic. In spring, the Japanese traditionally go to the countryside or parks for flower viewing (hanami). However, they often seem to be more interested in eating or drinking alcohol than appreciating the beauty of the flowers. It is an example of the fickle nature of humans.
  • Tonari no hana wa akai 隣の花は赤い --- Literally translated as, "The neighbor's flowers are red". It means that the grass is always greener on the other side. There is also another saying, "Tonari no shibafu wa aoi (The neighbor's lawn is green)".

Here are more expressions including the word flower.

  • Hanashi ni hana ga saku 話に花が咲く --- To have a lively discussion.
  • Hana o motaseru 花を持たせる --- To let someone have the credit for something.
  • Hana o sakaseru 花を咲かせる --- To succeed.
  • Hana to chiru 花と散る --- To die gracefully.
  • Ryoute ni hana 両手に花 --- To have a double advantage, to be between two pretty women.

Flower Vocabulary

asagao 朝顔 --- morning glory
kiku 菊 --- chrysanthemum
suisen 水仙 --- daffodil
bara 薔薇 --- rose
yuri 百合 --- lily
himawari ひまわり --- sunflower
chuurippu チューリップ --- tulip
hinagiku ひなぎく --- daisy
kaaneeshon カーネーション --- carnation
ayame あやめ --- iris
shoubu --- Japanese iris
ran 蘭 --- orchid
dairya ダリヤ --- dahlia
kosumosu コスモス --- cosmos
umire すみれ --- violet
tanpopo タンポポ --- dandelion
ajisai あじさい --- hydrangea
botan 牡丹--- peony
suiren 睡蓮 --- water lily
suzuran すずらん --- lily of the valley
tsubaki 椿 --- camellia

Japanese Girls Names with Flowers

It is quite popular to use either the word for flower, hana, or the name of a flower, when naming a girl. When using, hana, as a name, it can have variations such as, Hanae, Hanao, Hanaka, Hanako, Hanami, Hanayo etc. Sakura (cherry blossom) has been a popular name for a long time and constantly appears in top 10 lists for girl’s names. Momo (peach blossom) is another favorite. Other possible Japanese names with flowers are, Yuri (lily), Ayame (iris), Ran (orchid), Sumire (violet), Tsubaki (camellia) and so on. Although Kiku (chrysanthemum) and Ume (ume blossom) are also female names, they sound a little old fashioned.

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Abe, Namiko. "Flowers in Japanese Proverbs." ThoughtCo, Oct. 29, 2020, Abe, Namiko. (2020, October 29). Flowers in Japanese Proverbs. Retrieved from Abe, Namiko. "Flowers in Japanese Proverbs." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).