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This is the Japanese version of an ancient Chinese proverb that means, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
Some will also translate this as a 1000 mile road starts with one brick (a small amount).
In this case, the real measurement is an ancient Chinese "li" or 里, which is romanized as "ri" in Japanese. It's about half a kilometer, so three 里 would be a western mile. A journey of 333 miles begins with a single step, just doesn't sound as natural.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
This old Chinese proverb speaks to the act of giving up. This phrase suggests that no matter how close you are to finishing your task or journey, giving up just before you finish, is just as bad as giving up halfway.
50% finished or 90% finished, the result is the same: "You are not finished."
You can take what you want from this proverb but I think it suggests that you should finish what you start, and especially finish that last 10% of your journey or project so that you can honestly say "it's finished."
Some notes: The character, 里, that I am translating as "mile" is really an ancient "Chinese mile" which is actually about half a kilometer - it just doesn't sound right to say "When walking 100 half-kilometers..."
This is a lifelong suggestion for expanding your horizons by gaining knowledge, experience, and seeing the world.
Of course, this was written long ago when it was hard to travel 10,000 miles (at least 1000 years before the invention of the airplane).
With air travel and the business I'm in, I often achieve that lifetime goal on a monthly basis.
However, I am a little behind in the book count.
Note: An ancient Chinese mile (里 or lǐ) referred to in this proverb is about a third of a British/American mile. However, at that time, this was a great distance to travel.
This Japanese proverb states that, "A journey of a thousand miles feels like only one mile." It is understood that in the proverb, this applies when going to see the one you love.
Note that the "mile" or 里 used in this proverb is an old Chinese "li" (pronounced "ri" in Japanese). It's not actually a mile, as the measurement is really closer to 500 meters (it would take 3 of these to get close to a western mile). Still, 1000里 (333 miles) is a long way.
This translates a few ways:
To travel ten-thousand miles beats reading ten-thousand books.
Better to travel ten thousand li than to read ten thousand books. (a "li" is an ancient Chinese mile)
Travelling thousands of miles is better than reading thousands of books.
No matter how you slice it, this Chinese proverb is claiming that experience is more profound and meaningful than what you can get from a book. Go do it! Don't just read about it.
鵬程萬里 is an ancient Chinese proverb used in modern times to wish someone a long and successful career.
It's really about the 10,000 Flight of the Peng (Peng, also known as Roc is a mythical fish that can turn into a bird and take flight).
庄子 - Zhuangzi
Breaking down each character:
1. Peng or Roc (a kind of bird).
2. Journey (in this case, a flight).
3. 10,000 (Ten Thousand).
4. Li is a unit of distance often referred to as a "Chinese Mile," though the real distance is about half a kilometer.
Direct Translation: "Peng's Journey [of] 10,000 Li."
Literal meaning: "The 10,000-Li Flying Range Of The Roc."
Perceived meaning: "To have a bright future" or "To go far."
This proverb/idiom comes from the book of Zhuangzi. It tells the tale of a huge fish which could turn into a gigantic bird. This bird was called "peng" and was many miles long. This legendary size allowed the Peng to fly from the Northern Sea to the Southern Sea in a single bound.
Wishing someone "a Peng's Journey of 10,000 Li," will imply that they will be able to travel far without stopping, and will have great success, a long career, and a prosperous future.
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|mài ěr sī|
mai4 er3 si1
mai er si
|mai erh ssu
|A Journey of 1000 Miles Begins with a Single Step||千里之行始於足下|
|qiān lǐ zhī xíng shǐ yú zú xià|
qian1 li3 zhi1 xing2 shi3 yu2 zu2 xia4
qian li zhi xing shi yu zu xia
|ch`ien li chih hsing shih yü tsu hsia
chien li chih hsing shih yü tsu hsia
|A Journey of 1000 Miles Begins with a Single Step||千里の道も一歩から||sen ri no michi mo i-ppo ka ra|
sen ri no michi mo i-po ka ra
|Walking 100 Miles: Stopping at 90 miles, is the same as stopping half-way.||行百里者半九十||xíng bǎi lǐ zhě bàn jiǔ shí|
xing2 bai3 li3 zhe3 ban4 jiu3 shi2
xing bai li zhe ban jiu shi
|hsing pai li che pan chiu shih
|Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles||讀萬卷書行萬里路|
|dú wàn juǎn shū, xíng wàn lǐ lù|
du2 wan4 juan3 shu1 xing2 wan4 li3 lu4
du wan juan shu xing wan li lu
|tu wan chüan shu hsing wan li lu|
|A Journey of 1000 Miles Feels Like One||千里も一里||sen ri mo ichi ri|
|Better to Travel 10,000 Miles than Read 10,000 Books||行萬里路勝讀萬捲書|
|xíng wàn lǐ lù shèng dú wàn juǎn shū|
xing2 wan4 li3 lu4 sheng4 du2 wan4 juan3 shu1
xing wan li lu sheng du wan juan shu
|hsing wan li lu sheng tu wan chüan shu|
|A Bright Future||鵬程萬里|
|péng chéng wàn lǐ|
peng2 cheng2 wan4 li3
peng cheng wan li
|p`eng ch`eng wan li
peng cheng wan li
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.