The Japanese love to use kotowaza, ancient proverbs that they pull out when they need some extra wisdom, and these famous sayings are fun for foreigners to memorize since no one expects you know them. One such phrase is ningen banji saiou ga uma (nin-gen BAHN-gee sai-OH ga oo-mah), meaning “All things in life are like Saiou’s horse,” which recalls an old Chinese story about a man named Saioh whose horse ran away, which seemed like bad luck, until it returned with another horse soon, which turned out to be good luck, then his son broke his leg (bad luck) which kept him from riding away to war the next day to be killed (good luck). In other words, when something good or bad happens, you can never say for sure how it will turn out in the end. Another phrase you hear a lot is, ishi no ue ni mo san-nen (ee-she no OO-eh ni moh sahn-nen) which literally translates as “Three years sitting on a rock…” and essentially means that if you’re going to try something, be prepared to keep at it for three years before giving up. My own version of this is, I will watch three episodes of just about any anime out there before deciding whether it’s to my taste or not. If I’m not hooked by episode 3, I move on to something else.
Nana-korobi ya-oki is another one: fall down the 7th time, get up an 8th, e.g. Never give up, never surrender.