Proverb – Japan



English pronunciation/Romaji:

Sarumo kikara ochiru

Literal translation:

Even monkeys fall off trees


Everyone has his or her bad days

“There’s a monkey… and you know, monkeys are supposed to be really good at going from tree to tree. So this monkey is basically jumping from tree to tree and he falls off. Well, monkeys aren’t supposed to fall off trees because they’re tree masters. But it just shows that everyone has their bad days, even if you’re supposed to ‘never make mistakes’.”

Informant read this in a book full of proverbs in Japanese when he was young. He’s heard it used many places many times, mostly in academic settings or work-related situations. The informant first heard it in elementary school. He usually tests well consistently but when he performs below his usual standard, his teacher would often tell him “Sarumo kikara ochiru”. This made him feel ok about making mistakes and that it’s fine to have a bad day once in awhile.

I find this proverb very concise because its imagery is so fitting to its meaning. It’s also a proverb that everyone can relate to. I bet there’s also an English proverb relaying the same message that I can’t seem to recall at the moment, but I am almost positive that it’s out there, exemplifying different versions and varieties of folklore.