the frog in the well knows nothing of the sea

Japanese proverb, meaning that one should be aware of the limitations of one’s own experience. Cf. Chinese the frog in the well cannot talk of Heaven.

1918 E. J. BANFIELD Tropic Days 189 Among coastal blacks—all of whom may be said to be fishermen—some are ardent devotees to the sea. Others of the same camp restrict themselves to unsensational creeks and lagoons. The frog in the well knows nothing of the salt sea, and its aboriginal prototype contents himself with milder and generally less remunerative kind of sport than that in which his bolder cousins revel.

1976 R. STORRY ‘Soldiers of the Showa Empire’ in Pacific Affairs vol. 49 (spring) 105 Japanese officers could be forgiven for supposing that they were the wave of the future. In reality they were prisoners of the past and (in the apt if trite Japanese phrase) ‘frogs in a well’. [footnote] I no naka no kawazu taikai wo shirazu (the frog in the well knows nothing of the great ocean).

2006 ‘Oregon Caves’ on http://www.nps.gov 11 Sept. Amphibians..‘The frog in the well knows nothing of the great ocean.’

2007 D. KENNEDY ‘Faust—The Seven Games of the Soul’ on http://www.justadventure.com 14 Feb. The paper reads ‘The frog in the well knows nothing about the high seas.’ Recall that there is a well outside the house.


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