the nail that sticks up gets hammered down

Japanese proverb.

1972 J. HOHENBERG New Era in Pacific 145 It will be a long time before the Japanese give up faith in the group creed: ‘The nail that sticks up must be hammered down.’

1982 K. OHMAE Mind of Strategist 228 Whenever I wanted to do my own thing, I was constantly reminded that the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

1997 New York Times 1 Aug. (online) Of course, Mr. Irabu still has time to redeem himself. And his lack of obvious humility—a handicap in his homeland, where an old proverb holds that ‘the nail that sticks up gets hammered down’—can be an asset here.

2007 J. HUIZENGA ‘Ten Tips for Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ on In classrooms outside the U.S., however, showing solidarity with often more important than looking good for the teacher... This holds true in Japan and China,..where proverbs express the cultural idea in a nutshell:..‘The nail that stands up must be pounded down.’

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