Notable Japanese on Obsessions, Failures, and First-hand Lessons

Notable Japanese on Obsessions, Failures, and First-hand Lessons

Our popular Japanese quotes series is back with more hard-earned wisdom from renowned Japanese! (Did you miss Part 1 or  Part 2?) 

Here are 10 celebrated Japanese and their thoughts on where to focus your obsession, how to recover from failure, the power of first-hand lessons, and much more! 

1. Minoru Yoneyama on the blessings of failure.

「転んでも、そのたびにひと回り大きくなって起きあがる。それをモットーにした私には「越後の雪だるま」というあだ名がついた」

Minoru Yoneyama on the blessings of failure

“Even if I fall, I always get up larger than before. That was my motto, and it earned me the nickname ‘The Snowman of Echigo.’”

Minoru Yoneyama 米山稔 (1924–2019), founded the sports company Yonex, largely considered the world’s top producer of tennis and badminton rackets and golf clubs, in the book Echigo no Yukidaruma Yonex Sougyosha Yoneyama Monogatari. 

2. Keisuke Honda on where to focus your obsession. 

「成功に執われるな。成長に執われろ。」

Keisuke Honda on where to focus your obsession

“Don't obsess over success. Obsess over progress.”

Keisuke Honda 本田圭介 (1986–), a Japanese professional football player, manager, and coach of the Cambodia national team, who earned over 90 international caps between 2008 and 2018, in an interview with Next Connect. 

3. Haruki Murakami on the power of first-hand lessons.

「他人から教えられたことはそこで終ってしまうが、自分の手で学びとったものは君の身につく。」

Haruki Murakami on the power of first-hand lessons.

“What you learn from others ends there, but what you learn with your own hands stays with you.”

Haruki Murakami 村上春樹 (1949–), a Japanese award-winning writer with novels, essays, and short stories translated into 50 languages, in his book Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

4. Son Masayoshi on the pathway to success.

「思い入れと願望と、この狂ったほどの努力がないと翼なんか生えてこない。」

 Son Masayoshi on the pathway to success

“You can't grow wings without a lot of thought, aspiration, and a crazy amount of effort.”

Son Masayoshi 孫正義 (1957–), a Japanese technology entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of SoftBank, SoftBank Mobile, and chairman of UK-based Arm Holdings, in the book Son Masayoshi Jigyouka No Seishin.

5. Hayao Miyazaki on how creators are born.

「部屋で最新式のコンピューターに向かってポコポコやってるところからクリエイターは出てくるんじゃなくて、もっと古いものの集積の中から出てくるんだと思うんです。」

Hayao Miyazaki on how creators are born

“Creators don't come from sitting in a room clacking away at a state-of-the-art computer, I think they come from an accumulation of more traditional things.”

Hayao Miyazaki 宮崎 駿 (1941–), a producer, screenwriter, animator, director, and co-founder of Studio Ghibli; regarded as one of the most accomplished filmmakers in the history of animation (attributed quote). 

6. Naomi Watanabe on how to recover from failure.

「失敗しても「失敗しました!じゃあ次行きます」という切り替えが大事。」

Naomi Watanabe on how to recover from failure

“Even if you fail, it’s important to switch gears and say, ‘I failed! Okay, on to the next thing.’”

Naomi Watanabe 渡辺直美 (1987–), a Japanese comedian, actress, and fashion designer, known for her impersonations of popular artists like Beyonce, and Lady GaGa, in an interview with Osamu Hayashi.  

7. Hideyo Noguchi on what makes a genius.

「だれよりも、三倍、四倍、五倍、勉強する者、それが天才だ。」

Hideyo Noguchi on what makes a genius

“A genius is one who studies three, four, or five times harder than anyone else.”

Hideyo Noguchi 野口英世 (1876–1928), a prominent bacteriologist who discovered the agent of syphilis as the cause of progressive paralytic disease in 1911 (attributed quote).  

8. Yoshiki Otake on using your talents to make a living. 

「1つの得意分野があれば、それを活かして生きる道がある。」

Yoshiki Otake on using your talents to make a living. 

“If you are good at one thing, there is a way to make a living out of it.”

Yoshiki Otake 大竹美喜 (1935–), founder of the Japanese branch of AFLAC, former representative, president, and chief advisor in Japan, in his book Shigoto de Hontouni Taisetu ni Shitai Koto.

9. Mizumaru Anzai on working hard to pursue your dreams.

「人生は短いですよ。

好きなこと、やりたいことがあるなら、やってみるべきです。

それに向かって努力していれば、たいていは誰かが認めてくれる。

そうならないなら、まだまだ自分に努力が足りないということです。」

Mizumaru Anzai on working hard to pursue your dreams.

“Life is short.

If there is something you like or want to do, you should try it.

If you work hard at it, someone will likely acknowledge you.

If they don't, it means that you haven't worked hard enough.”

Mizumaru Anzai 安西水丸 (1942–2014), Japanese illustrator, manga artist, essayist, writer, and picture book author, quoted in the book Puro Ron. 

10. Soseki Natsume on living your best life. 

「自分のしている事が、自分の目的になっていない程苦しい事はない。」

 Soseki Natsume on living your best life

“There's nothing more painful than when what you're doing is not your purpose.”

Soseki Natsume 夏目漱石 (1867–1916), Japanese novelist best known worldwide for his novels Kokoro, Botchan, I Am a Cat, in his book Koujin.


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