Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there an equivalent expression in Japanese for "strike while the iron is hot"?

I've seen a few questions on here with phrases and their equivalents. Does anybody know of a site where these are collated?

share|improve this question
up vote 11 down vote accepted

There is an exact Japanese equivalent to "Strike while the iron is hot," that is "鉄は熱いうちに打て." I don't know whether this proverb had existed before we knew English version, or is just a translation of "Strike while the iron is hot."

share|improve this answer
Oh! Pretty much identical. – VictorySaber Feb 9 at 10:00
@VictorySaber There are lots of direct translations (calques?) of English idioms in Japanese. Another common one is 一石二鳥 (killing two birds with one stone). I think most of them entered the language in the Meiji period, but I haven't really researched it. – ThisSuitIsBlackNot Feb 9 at 18:03
I know that one :) I shall investigate further thank you – VictorySaber Feb 10 at 9:11
Both Daijirin and Daijisen list this as a direct translation of the English saying. I'm not sure if there is any equivalent native kotowaza. – Eiríkr Útlendi Feb 22 at 7:41

It is 「[鉄]{てつ}は[熱]{あつ}いうちに[打]{う}て」 and every Japanese-speaker would be familiar with this saying.

English to Japanese: http://www.wa.commufa.jp/~anknak/ (Click where it says 「英語ことわざのABC順分類」)

share|improve this answer
Thanks for the link, and the furigana – VictorySaber Feb 9 at 10:00

There are a couple of equivalents listed on WWWJDIC. I cannot vouch that these are any common though.

「鉄は熱いうちに[鍛えよ]{きたえよ}」, a variant of the 打て version

「[善]{ぜん}は[急げ]{いそげ}」 make hay while the sun shines

「[奇貨居くべし]{きかおくべし}」 if you find something rare, buy it (i.e. don't let an opportunity slip)

「[幸運]{こううん}の[女神]{めがみ}は[前髪]{まえがみ}しかない」 opportunity only knocks once, lit. the goddess of good fortune has no hair except on her forehead

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.