Japanese Kotowaza – Hito no furi mite waga furi naose

May 31, 2013 Juju Kurihara 3 Comments

When I was little, my father put me a level of lazy. He even predicted that I´d be Spanish (sorry, no offence) when I grew up because I always said "later". In his theory, La Sagrada Familia never ends because Spanish people never work today and say "hasta mañana (see you tomorrow)". 

"Take your dried clothes"

"I´ll do it later"

"Take the rubbish bag out"

"I´ll do it now"

"Now" and "later" never came and I simply forgot. Later my father would come and tell me off, of course. He always said to me to do it "right now" and not "I will do it". When my parents came to tell me off, my excuse was "oh, I was just about to do it". Does it sound familiar to you too?


As a child I wasn´t a big fan of cleaning although most of the schools in Japan oblige students to clean their classrooms, toilets, hallway, entrance or other rooms. As an adult, I´m still not a fan of cleaning but I do small cleaning every other day. Sweep the kitchen today, sweep the bathroom the day after tomorrow and the bedroom etc…

Do I like cleaning? No, I just don´t like living in a dirty place.


mt of platesI learned to do things "right now" and to clean by watching others. I the last 10 years I´ve lived in sharing houses and there I met many people with different characters. A girl once I lived with, she was very always in a rush. Although she woke up 7 in the morning, somehow, at 11 to leave the house, she was in panic without dressing herself and makeup. Most of the days, she´d pile up the plates, the pan and cups in the sink and would tell us that she´d do the dish when she came back. Usually it went 2 days because she was tired, because she had dinner outside or whatever. 

I had another housemate living in the same house. She sometimes washed them because she needed to use some cups or just because it occupied so much space. She often complained and swore. And seeing and listening to it, I remembered I did the same, just fortunately I was in my parents home and they didn´t kick me out the house. 


dirty floorOther housemates I had were those who never cleaned. There were four adults (over 20) living in the house and no one cleaned. The bathroom and kitchen were white tiled floor and I could see easily lots of hair, food remains and sauce stains. A housemate told me once that the rule of sharing houses is don´t clean other people´s stuff. Many years, I followed that rule but it´s terrible how some people live. 

Maybe each person has different aspect over cleanness. If the hair hasn´t created a carpet, people don´t think it´s dirty. Or if it´s their ketchup stain or thier hair, it´s nor dirty. Who knows. Then I remember, I was just like that. Since my mum cleaned the house, I thought it was normal and didn´t pay so much care about not making the house dirty. But now I know how much effort it needs the house to be clean and it doesn´t clean itself, unfortunately. 


I didn´t realize until I see other people making mess and I have to live with them. Then it made me think that I don´t want to live like that. I prefer to live in a relatively clean house and it doesn´t have to be super clean like a hospital room. 

This is Hito no furi mite waga furi naose (人の振り見て、我が振り直せ) in Japanese Korowaza (諺 / saying). It means you correct your behaviour or attitude by watching other people´s mistake. Even it´s not an actual mistake but a sort of reflection that you don´t see it OK but you do it as well. I think it´s a little better way to learn your behaviour rather than someone tells you in a authorized way.

Have you had an experience that your younger brother or sister somehow never got told off by your parents but you do? It´s Hito no furi mite waga furi naose. Because they see what happened to you and doesn´t do what you did. Maybe kids do this because they are scared of the parents but even adults who don´t have actual authorities in their life can change themselves if they want. 

What experience changed your behaviour? Tell me about it.


More Japanese saying

Saru mo ki kara ochiru

Karasu no gyouzui

Sumeba miyako

Mizu ga awanai

Uso mo Houben

Japanese Karuta game

Neko no te mo karitai




  1. Mike 9 years Reply

    My favorite is “Kaze ga fuku, okeya ga mokeru”

  2. Sachiyo 9 years Reply

    It literally means to look at other people’s behavior and correct your own.
    But it sort of implies that when you find someone’s attitude not pleasant, you need to take a look at your own self and see if you are doing the same thing before you criticize others.

    Kind of like what the verses Matthew 7:3-5 are saying in the Bible:
    “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (verse 4)

  3. Viji 9 years Reply

    Japanese Kotowaza – Hito no furi mite waga furi naose

    This is what I understand from the abvoe kotowaza:
    Observe others actions and correct ourselves. It could be both good or bad. 🙂


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *