Japanese Saying – Mizu ga awanai –

November 10, 2013 Juju Kurihara 2 Comments

waterGood part of being a traveller is you can meet variety of people in different countries with different cultural backgrounds. It´s not always easy to adopt other culture and do like others. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". But after many years living in a foreign country, still there must be things that make you puzzled. 

There are places where make you feel home and this, in my case I can feel it as soon as I leave the airport and smell the air of the country. Not always I travel to live there, well most of the cases I go to a place to stay for a little while. Even that I can literary smell if I´ll be OK in the country where I´m entering. 

Of course this perspective can be changed as you live and get more involved in the society. As another Japanese saying "Sumeba miyakoexplains. But after living in a place and having many things become your daily life, even though you like some bits, there are something does not agree with you. That´s when Japanese say "Mizuga awanai (水が合わない)". Mizu is water, and awanai is the negation of au and means doesn´t match. 


Here is an example. When I was in Japan, I had been having skin problem for a long time. Despite of a good diet and lots of exercises, I had been having lots of pimples and I even had to take medication, which didn´t work at all. Then I went to London. After a few months, I´d realised the change on my skin. Those ugly pimples had reduced and I merely got new ones. After a year my mum was surprised how my skin condition changed. 

Water in Japan is known as soft water, which is perfect for drinking and for the skin. But somehow, the combination of humidity and the water didn´t get on well with my skin, whereas the water in London is hard and the climate is drier. In my case, London life was Mizu ga au (水が合う), got on well. 


naganegi miso

Water is fundamental for our life and so as the food. If you started living in a country and your body can´t take the local food habit, maybe that country and you "Mizu ga awanai".   


When you use this word in the phrase, it´ll be like this.

都会の生活と水が合わない。(Tokai no seikatsu to mizu ga awanai / The life in Tokyo doesn´t agree with me)

この会社とは水が合わない。(Kono kaisha towa mizu ga awanai / I don´t feel OK working in this company)


What is your experience? Or you are still searching the perfect water for you?



More Japanese saying

Hitono furi mite waga furi naose

Saru mo ki kara ochiru

Karasu no gyouzui

Sumeba miyako

Atsusa samusa mo higan made

Uso mo Houben

Japanese Karuta game

Neko no te mo karitai


  1. ctk 9 years Reply

    Interesting article, as always. Keep them coming! 🙂

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