Here in Japan, we have have been inundated with monkeys.  Yes, next year is 2016–the Year of the Monkey–and monkey merchandise is here.



I realize that in America, people generally celebrate the Chinese zodiac in February.  (This year it falls on February 8, 2016).  But Japan changed over to the western calendar, so we get our monkeys now.

I bought several of the monkey stickers and plan to send them in mid-January to family in America.  That way they will arrive for the Chinese New Year.  What fun!


Okay, here is our Japanese lesson for the day.  Notice that I specifically chose stickers in which monkeys are hanging from a tree.  And presumably falling from a tree.

Famous Japanese idiom:


Saru mo ki kara ochiru.

Even a monkey falls from a tree.

Do you know what it means?

My dictionary translates it as “Even Homer sometimes nods.”  I have no idea what that means.  LOL

But basically the meaning is “Even experts make mistakes.”   Because monkeys are expert tree climbers, so if they fall… is like they made a mistake.  Get it?

Okay, more trivia.  And I don’t know much about this one, just noticed it while studying.  The kanji for monkey is 猿.   If you look at the idiom in the example above, you will see it there.

However, when you are writing monkey when referring to the monkey of the zodiac the kanji is 申


See the 申 on the right on these New Year cards? That means “saru” or “monkey.”

So “Saru Doshi”  (Year of the Monkey) is 申年。

In reality, though, I don’t think the kanji for monkey is super important and I will often see it in hiragana さる  or katakana サル

So yeah, four ways to write the same word.


A monkey walks into a bar and and sits on a stool.  The man next to him says, “You lookin’ at my girlfriend over there?”

The monkey says, “Well, you see, she looks just like my sister.”

The man gets angry.  “”My girl has the face of a monkey?”

The monkey replies, “Oh yeah, an awful lot, expecially when my sister is picking her nose.”

The man is infuriated.  “My girl has the face of a monkey picking her nose?”  He’s really angry now.

His girlfriend walks over and smiles, but he grabs her hand and stands up.   “Honey, let’s get out of here,” he fumes.

“Oh no.  we can’t leave now,” she says, “I see you’ve met my brother!”