“Catching a Sea Bream with a Shrimp”: Unraveling the Meaning and Applications of a Japanese Proverb



“Ebi de tai wo tsuru” is an old Japanese proverb that translates to “catching a sea bream with a shrimp.” This saying implies achieving significant results with minimal investment or effort. It emphasizes the importance of developing a wise strategy in both daily life and business. In this article, we will explore the origins and meaning of this proverb and discuss its practical applications in modern society, using specific examples.

Origins and Meaning of the Proverb

The exact origins of “catching a sea bream with a shrimp” are debated, but it is generally believed to have been passed down as a metaphor for the wisdom of fishing and investing. The idea of using a small shrimp as bait to catch a more valuable sea bream suggests that achieving significant goals does not always require extensive resources or effort.

This proverb conveys the importance of using limited resources efficiently to maximize results. It also encourages a mindset of constantly seeking opportunities to turn small chances into big successes.

Practical Examples in Daily Life

  1. Effective use of social media: Posting useful information or interesting content on social media can lead to significant opportunities. For example, sharing photos of a hobby might result in a job offer from a company, demonstrating how a small effort can create unexpected chances.
  2. Small acts of kindness: Small acts of kindness towards those around you may lead to significant benefits in the future. Helping someone in need might result in them introducing you to a business opportunity, exemplifying the practice of “catching a sea bream with a shrimp.”

Practical Examples in Business

  1. Success of startups: Global companies like Google and Facebook began as startups with limited resources. Armed with innovative ideas and unique services, they succeeded in capturing large markets with minimal investment.
  2. Effective marketing: There are numerous examples of low-budget marketing campaigns yielding significant results. Social media-driven viral campaigns, in particular, have the potential to generate maximum impact with minimal cost.


The proverb “catching a sea bream with a shrimp” teaches us the importance of creativity and resourcefulness. In daily life and business, we can achieve significant results by seizing small opportunities and flexibly utilizing ideas. By cherishing the small chances around us and adopting a creative mindset, we can extract the greatest impact from minimal investments. A small step can be the key to bringing about significant change.