In "Yakuza: Lost Judgement", they talk about how penguins all bunch up next to the water, but won't jump in. It's only once the "first penguin" jumps in that all of the rest feel comfortable jumping in. This idea is used as a metaphor for e.g. no one wants to stand up to a bully until the first person stands up to them, and then the rest will follow in standing up to the bully.

They then say in the game that "the first penguin" is a term of respect used in America.

first penguin yakuza lost judgement

Is this actually the case, or is the game just making it up? Because I've never heard the expression before in my life, and looking it up on google seems to only pull up japanese-related links.

  • 4
    This sounds like the Japanese equivalent of Americans making up "Chinese proverbs."
    – alphabet
    Mar 9 at 21:24
  • 2
    @alphabet if so, I wonder what impetus they would have to attribute such a thing to America out of nowhere @.@. In the case of fake Chinese proverbs, I can get the appeal (the "Mystical Orient" stereotype and all that). But this line seemingly comes out of nowhere for no reason in Yakuza >.<.
    – chausies
    Mar 9 at 21:45
  • The "I've heard it said" makes it sound as if this could be what the character thinks, as opposed to a research error.
    – Obie 2.0
    Mar 10 at 18:10

2 Answers 2


It apparently is an award invented by professor Randy Pausch from Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

the concept of “the first penguin” is in Randy Pausch’s book, The Last Lecture. A professor at Carnegie Melon, Randy developed “the first penguin” award to encourage his students to take risks in pursuing their goals even if it meant failure.He explained that "the first penguin" idea comes from when penguins are about to jump in the water that might contain predators. Someone has to be the first penguin and jump in. They might find fish, they might find nothing, or even worse, they may get attacked by a sea lion.

  • 1
    Bravo for uncovering one professor who used the expression. Which shows the expression is not a common American sign of respect. Mar 9 at 21:46
  • It might perhaps be a good idea to begin the answer with something like 'No, this is not an expression that would be readily understood anywhere in the English-speaking world. Its origin is in . . . but it would be understood only by those who read that book, or took Professor Pausch's classes.' (I know this is implied by the answer, but it might be helpful to future visitors to this page to make it explicit.)
    – jsw29
    Aug 24 at 21:25

Basically there's one guy (Randy Pausch) who used in in a single book from what I can find.

No it's not a common phrase in America, I've never heard it and would say I'm pretty well versed in a decent enough scope that it's at least no common in most of Ameriac. There's terms like "Lead by example" or "Lead from the front" which would have been better.

Probably like much of what Americans claim of Japanese terminology or culture. Like people who claim all Japanese people like anime/manga. Or even Sudoku (Which is an American invention actually).

It's definitely not as important as they imply, but it makes a good line in a "Like a Dragon" story. Enjoy the game.

Oh, one thing, it's "Lost Judgement" not "Yakuza: Lost Judgement" Common mistake, but while it's in the "Yakuza" universe, it's not actually in the game's title.

  • Sudoku? The puzzle is [at latest] 19th century French, "Number Place" didn't hit Dell Magazines until 1979. The name for it is 1980s Japanese (Sudoku.com). Not really relevant to the question, but you had me wondering. Did I miss a deliberate parody of the national misattribution in the question? Aug 24 at 12:14
  • What exactly does this add to the answer already posted months ago?
    – jsw29
    Aug 24 at 15:40

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