How to Speak Japanese

For Your Japanese Script: 6 Quotes from Great Leaders

Thumbnail: A Japanese Samurai

*The target readers are those who will make a speech or presentation in Japanese.

It is very likely that your audience will have difficulty concentrating on your speech at the beginning. If you go straight to your main point without getting the audience’s attention, you may not get the results you want. You need a hook in your Japanese script. One of the best ways is to quote great leaders. Because you are a foreigner to Japanese people, you may really impress them if you are able to quote great leaders in Japanese. You may have them thinking, “Wow, how do they know such a historical word?” or “Their preparation is really impressive!” Spicing up your speech will better your chances at winning.

6 Quotes from Japanese Great Leaders For Your Japanese Script

ひとわれなにともわばえ。がなすことわれのみぞる。-坂本さかもとりょう

Translation: Whatever people may say about me, I know what I’m doing.

Meaning: People may criticize or not understand what you are doing, but if you have faith in yourself that is all that matters.

Note: 坂本さかもとりょう (January 3, 1836 to December 10, 1867) made prominent contributions to the Meiji revolution. He constantly broke the mold with new ideas, but not everyone understood at the time.

ひと一生いっしょうは、おもうてとおみちをゆくがごとし。-徳川家康とくがわいえやす

Translation: Life is a journey with a burden

Meaning: In your life, you have to experience both good and bad things. If you are able to withstand the bad, you will reach your goal eventually.

Note: 徳川家康 とくがわいえやす (January 31, 1543 – June 1, 1616) was the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan for approximately 250 years. He established this quite late in his career, as he was 62 years old at the time. The founder of the Ashikaga shogunate was 30 years old when he established it.

おもしろきこともなきをおもしろく。-高杉晋作たかすぎしんさく

Translation: Live an exciting life in the not-exciting world.

Meaning: The world is what you make it.

Note: 高杉晋作たかすぎしんさく (27 September 1839 – 17 May 1867) was a Samurai from Choshu Domain in Japan and significantly contributed to the Meiji revolution. He led a revolutionary military, which was formed with people from various social statuses (At that time, only Samurais were allowed to have weapons, generally speaking).

てんひとうえひとつくらず、ひとしたひとつくらず。-福沢ふくざわきち

Translation: Heaven does not create one person above or below another.

Meaning: We are all born as equals.

Note: 福沢ふくざわきち (January 10, 1835 – February 3, 1901) established the first university in Japan. This phrase is quoted from his publication: Encouragement of Learning and the phrase continued in this way;

Nevertheless, as we broadly survey the human scene, there are the wise and the stupid, and the rich and poor. The reason is clear. In the Jitsugo-kyo, we read that if a man does not learn he will remain ignorant, and such an ignorant man is stupid. Therefore the question of the difference between wise and stupid is traceable to the degree of learning.

Quoted from-Encouragement of Learning

 

しゃ生活せいかつ安定あんてい約束やくそくしていた。しかし、ぼくきたかったのだ。-づか治虫おさむ

Translation: Being a doctor has secured a stable life. However, I wanted to draw pictures.

Meaning: –

Note: づか治虫おさむ (3 November 1928 – 9 February 1989) is called the God of Comics in Japan. He had a chartered doctor license, but decided to become a cartoonist. He succeeded in pioneering Japanese Story Manga and Japanese animation.

チャレンジして失敗しっぱいおそれるよりも、なにもしないことをおそれろ。-ほん宗一郎そういちろう

Translation: Don’t fear failure. Fear doing nothing.

Meaning: –

Note: ほん宗一郎そういちろう (November 17, 1906 – August 5, 1991) was an engineer and the founder of Honda which is the biggest vehicle manufacturer in the world.

How to Use the Quotes in Your Japanese Script

You can use one of them depending on the content of your speech at the beginning as a hook. For example, if you make a speech concerning global inequality, your Japanese script could go like this; 「てんひとうえひとつくらず、ひとしたひとつくらず」、福沢ふくざわきちことです。みなさんは、かいひとびとみな平等びょうどうであるとおもいますか?わたしはそうはおもいません。かいわたせば、貧困ひんこんくるしむひとがたくさんいます。そして、この「貧困ひんこんをどのように解決かいけつしていくのか?」、これが今日きょうみなさんにわたしがおはなしすることです。 “Heaven does not create one person above or below another.” This phrase was said by Yukichi Fukuzawa. Do you think that everybody is equal in the world? I don’t think so. If you look at the world, there are a lot of people suffering from poverty. And, how we will solve this issue is what I would like to talk about with you today. If you only directly say ”今日きょうかい貧困問題ひんこんもんだいについておはなします -I would like to talk about global poverty today”, the difference is significant.

Conclusion

If you would like to put a hook in your Japanese script, quoting great leaders is one of the best choices. On the other hand, if you misunderstood the meaning of the quote or make a mistake when reading it, you will not make as a profound of an impression. That’s the double-edged sword of quoting great leaders. Thus, I recommend you to study about the phrase, the leader, their background, etc. before deciding if you want to use one or not. In addition, the saying must be related to your speech. If you follow this advice, I believe your speech will be successful.

Useful Phrases

「QUOTE」、NAMEのことです。

“QUOTE”, this was said by NAME.

NAMEはこういました。「QUOTE」と。

NAME said it in this way; “QUOTE”.

「QUOTE」、みなさん一度は聞いたことのある言葉だと思います。

“QUOTE”, I think everyone has heard this at least once.

Recommended Link

Encourage Someone with Six Cool Japanese Proverbs

Sakamoto Ryoma-Wikipedia

Tokugawa Ieyasu-Wikipedia

Takasugi Shinsaku-Wikipedia

Fukuzawa Yukichi-Wikipedia

Tezuka Osamu-Wikipedia

Honda Soichiro-Wikipedia

Author and English Editor

Author – Takuya Tokiwa

Takuya is the co-founder, Project Director of Wasabi and a serial entrepreneur in the education field. He is utilizing all of his knowledge and experiences for innovating Japanese learning.

English Editor – Natalia Weiner

Natalia is the Editor and Web Content Manager of Wasabi. She majored in Writing with a minor in Journalism and graduated from Loyola University Maryland in 2013. She was the Assistant Content Editor for the popular culture website EmcBlue, and has written and edited for a variety of publications in both Japan and the United States.

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