Two rabbits chase: an old proverb for modern times

Have you ever caught yourself trying to do too many things at once and not getting anything done?

If so, you are not alone. An old Japanese proverb sums up this phenomenon beautifully:

"He who chases two rabbits catches none."

Let's take a closer look at the origin of this proverb and what it can teach us about prioritizing our tasks.

The origin of the proverb

This proverb was first recorded in a medieval Japanese text known as the Konjaku Monogatarishū (今昔物語集), which dates from around 1119 AD. The Konjaku Monogatarishū is a collection of over a thousand Buddhist-inspired stories, some of which originated in India and China.

The phrase "He who hunts two hares catches neither" occurs in the story "The Hare on the Moon," in which a hunter goes into the woods with a bow and arrow but catches no game because he is distracted by multiple targets.

What does it mean?

At its core, this proverb is about focus and prioritization - qualities that are just as relevant today as they were when this phrase was first uttered centuries ago.

If you focus on one task at a time, you are much more likely to achieve your goal than if you try to do several things at once. It's better to set smaller, achievable goals than to take on too much at once and end up accomplishing nothing. Encouraging words like this proverb can remind us that taking time to focus on one thing is a good way to achieve our goals.

What can we learn?

This proverb reminds us that multitasking does not usually lead to success; instead, it is important to focus on one task at a time if we want to make progress in achieving our goals.

The proverb also reminds us that haste makes waste - if we rush tasks or try to do too much at once, we may end up making mistakes or missing opportunities to improve.

And finally, it teaches us how to set realistic goals: Sometimes it's better to divide large projects into smaller sections so that we can focus on one thing at a time without being overwhelmed by the size of the task.


The old Japanese proverb "He who chases two rabbits catches neither" still holds true today; multitasking rarely leads to success and instead it is best to focus on one task at a time if we want to successfully achieve our goals.

This proverb reminds us that it pays to take time and focus on one thing if we want to achieve our goals.

By breaking large projects into smaller sections, we can avoid getting overwhelmed and still make steady progress. With these lessons in mind, chasing both rabbits may not be so impossible!