Ishi no Ue ni mo Sannen

[Japanese Idioms by Flashcards]


sitting on a stone for three years

(perseverence wins in the end; endurance is a virtue)

Japanese consider it a virtue to out-sit the competition. The common practice of making an investment, even at a loss, with the belief that a return will come in the long run comes from this simple, down-to-earth philosophy. Sitting on a rock for three years requires outrageous tenacity, but the longer you sit, the more secure you are in your position. And more to the point, you become  the master of the situation because you have stuck with it. In fact, the cold “stone” may even seem warm and comfortable after three long years.

Sample text:
(Style: spoken/casual/A=female, B=male)

A: Konna chiisana mise ja nakanaka okyakusan kisooni naishi, yappari dame kashira.
B: Sonna koto nai yo. Moo chotto jikan ga hitsuyoona n da yo. “Ishi no ue ni mo sannen” tte yuu daroo.

A: こんな小さな店じゃなかなかお客さん来そうにないし、やっぱりだめかしら。
B: そんなことないよ。もうちょっと時間が必要なんだよ。『石の上にも三年』って言うだろう。

A: Customers just aren’t coming to this small a shop. It may not work after all.
B: Nonsense. Give it time. You know what they say: “Perseverence wins in the end.”

Japanese Idioms


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