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Are there more appropriate/creative/natural ways this could be translated other than a literal sense?

A literal rendering to me would be like...

痛みは成長の門口です

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If you want to play it safe, 人は痛みによって成長する or 痛みは人を成長させる should make sense, although uninteresting. If you want something more literal and figurative, 痛みは成長の入り口 should make enough sense. 門口 is a fairly rare word. You can omit だ/です in a proverb-like catchphrase like this.

EDIT: (Regarding 痛み vs 苦しみ) If "pain" in this context refers to sad life experiences (e.g., heartbreak, failure to pass an audition, someone's death), then I see no reason not to use 痛み. It's at least more literal. 痛み safely refers to both physical pain and psychological pain, and this type of 痛み is essentially a synonym for 悲しみ or つらい経験. See how 痛み is used in lyrics. 苦しみ is also used both in physical and psychological senses, but IMO it tends to refer to longstanding struggle/hardship/suffering rather than one-time sadness. 痛みによって成長した sounds like you experienced something terribly bad, but learned some lesson and became stronger or smarter. 苦しみによって成長した sounds to me like you have been struggling in difficult situations (such as poverty).

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    Shouldn't "pain" be translated 苦しみ when used in this sense?
    – By137
    Sep 17 '18 at 16:04
  • Thank you! Yes, if we traveled further away from literal and into natural/interesting, what do you think that could look like? 痛み has more of a physical focus, right? Whereas 苦しみ (suffering?) might be more emotional? Is there anything that encompasses both the physical and emotional side the way that “pain” does in English?
    – jeelbear
    Sep 17 '18 at 18:21
  • I am reminded of the confusing shopping bags carried out of a certain French bakery chain in Japan, proudly proclaiming, "I love pain"... Sep 17 '18 at 21:40
  • 痛み both refers to physical pain and psychological pain (e.g 失恋の痛み), and 痛み in a sentence like this safely refers to the latter. I believe 痛み is better because it has more aesthetic merit. From my experience 苦しみ is hardly associated with 成長.
    – naruto
    Sep 18 '18 at 2:21
  • @jeelbear So I may have misunderstood the original English sentence. Does this "pain" actually refer to something like "failure", "regret" or "bitter experience" (like someone who learns from failures)? Or does it refer to something like "struggle", "tough effort", "hardship" (like an athlete who bares hard training)?
    – naruto
    Sep 18 '18 at 8:29

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