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I'm looking for a saying that explains that A and B aren't better or worse, they are simply different. More specifically, that a Japanese way of doing things isn't better or worse [than a western one], but for me [a westerner] doing it the Japanese way will be worse, because I've been educated in such a different manner that it would be like "trying to force a square through a circle".

Any takers?

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  • Do you want a phrase that means "A and B differ significantly in quality" or "A and B put together looks awkward"? Aug 16, 2016 at 15:00
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    'trying to force a square through a circle' doesn't mean what you're saying in the rest of your question...
    – virmaior
    Aug 17, 2016 at 2:53
  • Like others have said I don't think that the idiom's meaning coincides with the meaning you want to convey. Something more along the lines of "It's like forcing a horse to ride a bike."
    – Leo
    Aug 19, 2016 at 3:13

3 Answers 3

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How about...

「[木]{き}に[竹]{たけ}を[接]{つ}ぐ」?

It would be like "trying to force a square through a circle".
「まるで、木に竹を接ぐようなものだ。」

Sources:
英辞郎 "square peg in a round hole"
故事ことわざ辞典「木に竹を接ぐ」

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  • "Like grafting bamboo to a tree", that's a very clever saying 😃
    – bcloutier
    Aug 16, 2016 at 14:04
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We have an established saying, "丸を四角に言いくるめる," which can be literally translated as "(try to) pursuade / convince sb. a circle as a square, and matches up your quote - "trying to force a square through a circle".

There are several variations to "丸を四角に言いくるめる," for examples, "カラスをサギと言いくるめる - insist on a crow as a white heron" and "白を黒と言い張る - insist on white as black.

These expressions are applied to an obstinate or dishonest person and his / her behavior, because he / she is pushing a wrong and illogical assertion on others.

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        We need a [Proverb] tag!

I can't think of a nice, colorful Jp expression for [ A and B aren't better or worse, they are simply different.] -- like comparing apples and oranges.

    比較のしょうがない

    比較してもしょうがない


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_peg_in_a_round_hole    "Square peg in a round hole" is an idiomatic expression which describes the unusual individualist who could not fit into a niche of his or her society.

As for an [eccentric maverick], I can't think of a colorful Jp expression or proverb either.

http://eow.alc.co.jp/search?q=maverick

maverick figure 《a ~》   型破りな[わが道を行くタイプの]人物

異端児   一匹オオカミ      独立独行の、型破りの

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