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Posted: 2024-05-30, Tags: joy-o-kanji kanji
When multiple kanji represent a concept, how do you know which one to use at any given time? Two of these bundles showcase characters with similar meanings, illuminating not only the overlaps but also the key differences. A third bundle presents kanji with the "rain" radical (雨); the eye easily confuses them, though the meanings are distinct. The last bundle consists of body part kanji, again with a shared radical (月) but also with comparable cultural significance.
Central Parts
軸 髄 枢 芯
All four kanji represent centers—with slight differences. An axis (軸) lies inside something (a planet, feather, or scroll), as does marrow (髄) and a core (髄 or 芯). Other objects (e.g., doors) revolve around pivots (枢). The body contains specialized brain centers, as well as an axis, marrow, and a core. More abstractly, an axis occupies the center of one's existence. Also, one feels things to the core, the essence of an activity (e.g., aikido) is vitally important, and 枢 helps symbolize the center of the economy, of power, and more.
Pleasure and Leisure
悦 暇 娯 愉
These four essays provide the key to happiness. With 暇 one has free time, whether a vacation, a leave of absence, or simply time to kill. Then 娯 provides destinations for having structured fun, including amusement parks, theaters, or venues for karaoke, pachinko, or horse races. With 愉 people relax into a carefree sense of fun and pleasure. And with 悦 one can experience joy and delight in a variety of things, including hospitality, a sense of progress, food, artistic masterpieces, a college acceptance, religious rapture, and sexual ecstasy.
Droplets of Moisture
霜 曇 霧 露
A book title mentioned in the 霧 essay collectively refers to clouds, rain, and fog by citing their common "rain" radical. That unites the kanji in this bundle, as well. All four essays explore the realities of damp weather, as when fog grounds planes, frost damages crops, and people seek shelter from the elements. Because of such challenges, these characters make great metaphors. The Japanese associate 霜 with hardship; 曇 with life's ups and downs, as well as gloomy feelings; 霧 with mental fog; and 露 with transience. Because 露 symbolizes vanishing realities, that kanji in particular has inspired poetry.
Limbs and Joints
肩 肢 膝 肘
Characters for body parts often feature 月 radicals. That's true here, but these four kanji have much more in common. First, limbs and joints are prone to soreness, injury, and disability, requiring various healing modalities. Second, the shoulders, elbows, and knees can show how we're relating to other people; the Japanese associate these body parts with lending support, sitting close for an intimate talk, and reining in someone's behavior. Those body parts also play roles in martial arts and sumo. Finally, one's stance can express seriousness, tension, pride, shame, discouragement, respect, remorse, shame, or a lack of reservedness.

Posted: 2024-05-24, Tags: topics
We hope you are all enjoying our latest AI feature, AI Sentence Correct! We have some enhancements for Sentence Correct coming soon, as well as another exciting new AI feature.
In the meantime, we've been steadily adding Topic Lessons, with 14 new lessons covering a range of ability levels, and including new games, quizzes, reading and listening material:
Numbers 1 to 100 NEW!
Question Words - 1 NEW!
Time and Schedules NEW!
Musical Instruments -
The Weather - Small Talk 1 NEW!
Transportation NEW!
‘Hot’ and ‘Cold’ – Differentiating between the Different Words NEW!
End-of-Year Customs -
How to Use Local Buses in Japan NEW!
Small Talk NEW!
あし - (A Fable) NEW!
New Year's Eve Soba -
しそば NEW!
New Year's Eve -
The Glow of Fireflies -

Posted: 2024-05-02, Tags: joy-o-kanji kanji
Thematic Bundles help you see differently! See the world from mountaintops! See time sliced up in unexpected ways! See through the soft haze of alcohol! See pottery in a whole new way! And see how to hang in there when life requires great tenacity. Learn the joy of wandering on a whim and the satisfaction of crossing rivers when you come to them. Find out how to move at different speeds. Most of all, see how characters connect in ways that you might otherwise miss.
Lofty Views
岳 峠 峰 麓
Sometimes a mountain isn't just a mountain. See how the Japanese associate certain parts with the peak of a crisis or with a risky situation that leaves no room for error. Find out how most of the population reveres mountains as sacred and how they act on these beliefs. Discover a legendary rivalry between two great mountains, one that proved transformative for both. Learn how particular perceptions of mountains have inspired famous artwork. And see how, to the Japanese, the foot of a mountain appears to be the hem of its "skirt"!
Concepts of Time
旬 昔 暦 頃
The sun, moon, and seasons are natural clocks, but time is also a construct. As this bundle shows, the Japanese divide time into units of 10 (days, months, or years), also perceiving 72 microseasons. Japan has observed lunar, solar, and other calendars, plus 60-year cycles and multiple era systems. For all this precision, people approximate time with "the good old days," "once upon a time," or "around the time." They also have a particular take on time when saying that a food is in season, "at your age," and "It's a great time" for a certain activity.
Do or Die
執 遂 徹 粘
Tenacity binds these essays together, sometimes as the secondary sense of characters. The literal stickiness of 粘 (e.g., natto, clay, and snail mucus!) inspired the figurative meaning "tenacity," as in "stick-to-it-ness." Mainly, 執 involves performing tasks (often by wielding long, thin objects such as pens or batons), but as "tenacity" this kanji drives words about persistence, obsession, and grudges. The whole bundle showcases adherence to beliefs and goals, doing things thoroughly, and seeing things through (e.g., athletes who accomplish greatness). These essays also depict the dark side of such devotion—namely, obstinacy, self-centeredness, discord, monomania, ill health, and more.
Booze 101
酵 醸 酔 酎
The 酔 essay examines intoxication from every angle, including great Osaka bars, studies of drunkards, tipsy cats and wasted elephants, and hangover prevention. The other three essays detail the processes of making saké, shochu, and beer, exploring all of the following (and much more): the ingredients in alcohol, the intricacies of fermentation, modes of distilling and brewing, malt, an old method of making saké by chewing rice and spitting it out, saké as a living entity, the image problem saké once had in Japan, alcoholic offerings to gods, the health benefits of shochu, and using alcohol to make food.
Rate of Change
徐 漸 頓 勃
This bundle presents life at a range of speeds. Two essays focus on gradual change—for better and for worse—in everything from health to the economy. By contrast, three essays touch on sudden developments, including the outbreak of war, a surge of energy, the rapid rise of subcultures, getting an erection, standing up abruptly, bursts of wit, quick enlightenment, and sudden death. Tying these extremes together, 頓 runs the gamut; when it means "to stay in place" or "stop," this kanji involves setbacks and stalemates, but as "sudden" it pops up in words for wild, crazy behavior.
Pottery Is Paramount
皿 陶 鉢 丼
In Japanese cuisine, beautiful presentations are paramount, beginning with the pottery. Essay 1650 explains the philosophy of such aesthetics, including the Zen idea that the transformation of clay into teacups is a religion itself. The other three essays provide vocabulary that distinguishes between vessels (dishes, bowls, and cups) of different sizes and depths. Those essays explore the terms donburi, hibachi (not what you might think!), suribachi, and hachimaki. Moreover, those sources show how, from a kanji perspective, the crowns of our heads are upside-down pots or flat dishes, also explaining how one might eat a "big serving of the head"!
Following Whims
随 漂 浮 浪
All who wander are not lost, at least not with this collection of kanji. They largely represent the happiest forms of aimless wandering, hedonism, freedom from worldly concerns, and wanderlust. Yes, this can veer off into extramarital affairs, restlessness, vagrancy, and unemployment. One kanji figures into a term for "failed college applicant." But another relates to essay writing as "following the pen" wherever it wishes. And two essays in this bundle touch on the Sanka, Japan's homegrown nomads and original hippies. Let freedom ring!
Crossing Waterways
越 沖 渡 遡
A waterway poses challenges to travelers, but such obstacles are surmountable, as all these kanji demonstrate. Both 越 and 渡involve crossing rivers via bridges or boats, and 越 is in a town name that actually means "crossing the river." As 沖 often pertains to fishing some distance from the shore, crossing that water reaps benefits. With 遡 one goes upstream, either along the shore on foot or in the river itself if one is a salmon looking to spawn. The carp, which famously swims upstream, symbolizes courage, spirit, and achievement for conquering the challenges of a waterway.
Thematic Bundles are available for purchase at the discounted price of $8. (Four essays would normally cost $12.) You can also access bundles with essay credits, which are allocated as part of joint Kanshudo + Joy o' Kanji subscriptions.
Joy o' Kanji essays are a great way to deepen your insight into specific kanji, and bundles will introduce you to new connections and more profound meanings. Try a Thematic Bundle today!

Posted: 2024-04-03, Tags: ai
We are very excited to announce the latest complement to Kanshudo's AI features: AI Sentence Correct! AI Sentence Correct is your personal Japanese language coach.
Type a Japanese sentence (in kana or kanji form), or click the Speak button and speak the sentence out loud. Kanshudo will analyze your sentence and determine whether it is natural Japanese, and will identify and correct any grammar, kanji or vocabulary mistakes. Additionally, Kanshudo will supply one or two alternative natural Japanese ways to phrase the sentence with equivalent meaning, and provide links to useful grammar points and dictionary entries for the words used.
The ability to get direct feedback on sentences you create yourself, learn from your mistakes (or gain confidence through knowing that there are none!), is a hugely important part of the language learning journey.
With Kanshudo's AI Sentence Correct you can:
  • Feel confident in your Japanese emails and social media posts
  • Prepare for job interviews with confidence
  • Keep a Japanese journal
  • Practice thinking in Japanese whenever you have a spare moment
Accessing Sentence Correct
AI Sentence Correct can be accessed from the STUDY menu, or from the GRAMMAR section of the site index at the foot of every page. As with most features on Kanshudo, you can also find it using search - just click the search icon at the top right of any page and search for 'correct' (or something similar). As with all Kanshudo features, if you forget where it is, just use Quick Search.
AI Credits and pricing
Along with AI Sentence Correct, we are also introducing a new system of credits for AI functions. AI credits can be used for any of the new AI functions we have planned, starting with Sentence Correct. All existing Pro subscriptions as of today now include 20 AI credits each month, enabling you to use Sentence Correct several times as part of your existing subscription.
Later in April, we will be introducing new pricing for all Pro subscriptions, and you will be able to subscribe to a new Pro + AI subscription plan, which will give you 60 credits per month. And, if you find yourself wanting to use Sentence Correct even more extensively, you will also be able to buy additional credits directly.
Lock in current Kanshudo pricing and 20 AI Credits per month: Go Pro!
Kanshudo's policy is to grandfather existing subscription pricing - in other words, if you subscribe today, you will lock in both current pricing for Pro access and current AI subscription credits. This means that you can lock in 20 AI credits per month today as part of existing prices. Once we switch to new pricing, a basic Pro plan will be more expensive, and AI credits will be additional - so this is an amazing opportunity. If you are not yet a Kanshudo Pro, why not go Pro today?
Here's a summary of AI credits under current and new pricing:
AI CreditsCurrentNew Pricing
Pro + AI-60
If you are not yet a Pro, now is the time to take advantage of this pricing!
Lock in current Kanshudo pricing and 20 AI Credits per month: Go Pro!

Posted: 2024-02-16, Tags: joy-o-kanji kanji
We've bundled 16 more Joy o' Kanji essays to show you the connections between kanji. Bundles 15 and 16 largely focus on water. The first collection presents the pleasures of bathing outdoors, the history of bathhouses, and the nuts and bolts of bathtub terms. Bundle 16 looks at the relationship between mounded-up earth (e.g., embankments and ridges in fields) and the water below (e.g., moats and flooded rice fields). Bundles 17 and 18 focus on intricate systems. The former introduces the way people have conceptually divided the hours in a day. The latter bundle examines hard-working animals that produce items that have boosted the Japanese economy.
In Hot Water
栓 槽 岡 呂
Bathing in Japan could mean communing with nature, following rigid procedures in a bathhouse, or soaking in water that other relatives have used. These essays cover all situations. They introduce practical terms for "bathtub," "turning on a faucet," and "overflowing." You'll learn where people bathed before owning bathtubs. You'll see how, in bathhouses, smaller, raised pools and larger pools below floor level respectively represent land and sea. You'll learn which "bathtub" term the Japanese associate with empty basins versus full pools at hot springs. And you'll discover how bathing has connected to religion, family bonds, prostitution, and a famous thief.
Corduroy Landforms
畝 堤 畔 堀
The Japanese have long corrugated the earth, mounding and trenching it with grand plans. Embankments (堤) rise above rivers to prevent floods. Dug-out moats (堀), whether empty or full, contrast with higher bordering land for castle defense. An agricultural field features ridges (畝) and furrows, with plants in raised areas, irrigation in "valleys." A footpath is just high enough above a flooded rice field (畔) that 畔also represents "causeway, a raised road across low or wet ground." See how the Japanese have gone to great lengths to create "corduroy" landforms.
Windows of Time
午 更 宵 旦
Rock around the clock with these four kanji. They might seem to represent mere points in a 24-hour stretch. But as 午 appears in terms for "morning" and "afternoon," it applies to a large chunk of the day. Then 宵 takes over, generally meaning "early evening" but also sometimes "evening." We find 更 in terms for the ancient Chinese system of night watches that ran from about 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Night ends with dawn (旦). These multipurpose kanji also symbolize parts of the year, from New Year's (旦) to late autumn (更).
Intricate Systems
繭 桑 巣 蜂
These essays detail complex, interdependent systems, both natural and economic. Sericulture was once so essential to Japan's economy that mulberry (桑) fields are marked on maps, as silkworms eat only mulberry leaves. These animals laboriously spin cocoons (繭), producing filaments that become silk kimonos after many financial transactions. Similarly, Japanese apiarists oversee busy bees (蜂) that make not only hives and honeycomb but also honey to be sold and consumed in multiple ways. Animals build intricate nests and webs (both 巣) that inspire terrific Japanese figurative language. People even eat some nests!
Thematic Bundles are available for purchase at the discounted price of $8. (Four essays would normally cost $12.) You can also access bundles with essay credits, which are allocated as part of joint Kanshudo + Joy o' Kanji subscriptions.
Joy o' Kanji essays are a great way to deepen your insight into specific kanji, and bundles will introduce you to new connections and more profound meanings. Try a Thematic Bundle today!

Kanshudo is your AI Japanese tutor, and your constant companion on the road to mastery of the Japanese language. To get started learning Japanese, just follow the study recommendations on your Dashboard. You can use Quick search (accessible using the icon at the top of every page) to look up any Japanese word, kanji or grammar point, as well as to find anything on Kanshudo quickly. For an overview, take the tour.