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Three Wise Monkeys

Three Monkeys at Toshogu Shrine

The Japanese names of the three wise monkeys are:

  1. Mazaru: Speak no evil
  2. Mizaru: See no evil
  3. Mikazaru: Hear no evil


The three wise monkeys (Japanesesan’en or sanzaru, or sanbiki no saru, literally “three monkeys”), sometimes called the three mystic apes,[1] are a pictorial maxim. Together they embody the proverbial principle to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.[2]The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil.

There are various meanings ascribed to the monkeys and the proverb including associations with being of good mind, speech and action. In the Western world the phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by turning a blind eye.[3]

In English, the monkeys’ names are often given as Mizaru,[4] Mikazaru,[5] and Mazaru,[6] but the last two names were corrupted from the Japanese originals.[7][8]

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Three Wise Monkeys

3 wise monkeys pub
Visit the 3 Wise Monkeys pub

This image was taken at a pub in Sydney, Australia.


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