Do you know the Japanese proverb? : Inumo arukeba bouni ataru (犬も歩けば棒に当たる)


In daily life, we Japanese frequently use various idioms, Yojijukugo (four-character idioms) and proverbs.

Each of them has a variety of meanings that are rooted from Japanese culture.


How many of them do you know?


Today, I’m introducing the Japanese proverb: Inumo arukeba bouni ataru (犬も歩けば棒に当たる).

Do you know what it means?


I’m explaining the way to use the proverb, and giving you some examples as well.

I’m sure you would like to use it after knowing the phrase!



1. What the Japanese proverb Inumo arukeba bouni ataru(犬も歩けば棒に当たる) means?



The Japanese proverb Inumo arukeba bouni ataru(犬も歩けば棒に当たる) means, no matter what you attempt, tragedy may befall you.


However, interestingly, the proverb also has the opposite meaning; the dog that trots about finds a bone.


The origin of the Japanese proverb Inumo arukeba bouni ataru(犬も歩けば棒に当たる) dates back to Edo period, when dogs were on the loose.

At the period, people didn’t have the custom to put a dog collar, and there were many stray dogs around Edo town.

Because people scared off the stray dogs, they beaten those dogs by a stick.


Seeing the scene, people thought that a dog had bad luck when they walked outside.

This is the origin of Inumo arukeba bouni ataru(犬も歩けば棒に当たる).


However, time passed, a different interpretation of the proverb came out, and it has got the meaning that good luck may come unexpectedly.



Thus, the proverb Inumo arukeba bouni ataru(犬も歩けば棒に当たる) now has the two opposite meanings.




2. The examples of the usage of Inumo arukeba bouni ataru(犬も歩けば棒に当たる)


I give you some examples to tell you how it is used in daily conversation.


* ふと立ち寄ったお店で結婚相手に出会ったのだが、犬も歩けば棒に当たるとはまさにこのことだ。

( When I had dropped by a shop, I had met a lady who I married. This is what Inumo arukeba bouni ataru means!)


* 犬も歩けば棒に当たるという様に、行動しなければ良い事にも悪い事にも出くわさない。

(As Inumo arukeba bouni ataru means, you seldom meet either good luck or bad luck if you don’t do anything.)



It’s rare that a proverb has two meanings which are completely opposite.




3. The synonyms of the proverb Inumo arukeba bouni ataru(犬も歩けば棒に当たる)


There are some synonyms of the proverb Inumo arukeba bouni ataru.

I give you some.


* 歩く足には泥がつく (Aruku ashiniwa dorogatsuku)

* 歩く足には棒が当たる (Aruku ashiniwa bouga ataru)

* 歩く犬には棒が当たる (Aruku inuniwa bouga ataru)


Not only the meanings but also words in the proverbs are similar!




How was it?

It’s so popular and many of you may know the Japanese proverb.

However, you can think more interested when you know the origin and the deep meaning of the proverb.


I hope you use what you have learned in daily conversation!