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JOY O' KANJI

The Joy o' Kanji Essays

Welcome to Joy o’ Kanji, which will enable you to discover the joy of kanji! Below you’ll find introductions to detailed essays covering every aspect of each Jōyō kanji. Through loads of sample sentences and images containing the character in question, the essays give you the real-world experience you need so you can master kanji. You can download the essays in PDF form. After reading them, you can play games and use flashcards to work with the vocabulary and sentences from the essay.
These essays come from our partner, Joy o' Kanji.
More info about Joy o' Kanji
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JOK: 1009
Discover the connection between latitude and weaving. (Hint: It's as if the planet is wrapped in thread!) Learn to explain how things got to be a certain way. Read about a criminal case related to nail care. Learn about latitudes versus parallels of latitude. And play a game by considering latitudes in various titles and following them around the world to see which locations they represent.
potato
JOK: 1011
From Hokkaido to Okinawa, the Japanese grow many types of white potatoes and sweet potatoes and have scads of ways of eating them. Find out when 芋 represents which of its many definitions, why a "new potato" label is crucial, what "sweet potato color" means, and what a potato stamp is. Also see why sweet potatoes prompt passion, nostalgia, embarrassed laughter, and excuses.
ecstasy
JOK: 1020
Learn to talk about delight and pleasure, sexual and otherwise. See how the Japanese refer to religious exultation, and peek into a monk's daily life. Find out how to say, "I'm so happy for you," "I am very pleased to hear the news," and "I am most humbly delighted" (which is handy if you meet a VIP!). Get some culture by reading about fine artists, writers, a singer, and a folk-craft movement.
surpass
JOK: 1021
If you want to outdistance others, beat them to the punch, defer work till later, move to Kawagoe, climb over a wall, cross a mountain, be promoted over your boss, or simply excel, you'll need 越. It's also useful for violating borders and walking all over people. Finally, 越 enables you to cross into a new year - if you've taken the proper measures to welcome the New Year's gods.
audience
JOK: 1022
Did you know that in 1582 teenage Japanese envoys went to Europe and met the pope in Rome? And did you know that a 19th-century British painter depicted Queen Victoria’s encounter with a mysterious kneeling black king? Find out about all this, plus terms for meeting such VIPs. Also learn who opened Japan to foreign trade (not Perry!) and discover surprising words for “pope.”
monkey
JOK: 1028
In Japanese words and expressions, the monkey alternately comes off as badly behaved, wise, foolish, cunning, imitative, and uncontrolled in its passions. The interpretations of this creature's mind shift as quickly as a monkey jumping from branch to branch. Find out the Japanese equivalents of "fighting like cats and dogs," "monkey mind," and "Curious George." Also learn about the world-famous monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.
dirty
JOK: 1031
The 汚 kanji has 7 Joyo yomi! What's more, 汚す can be よごす or けがす, just as 汚れる represents よごれる and けがれる. Learn when each yomi is appropriate. Scads of sample sentences help you get the hang of the yomi, one of which played a key role in a major movie. Whether you want to talk about dirty rooms, dirty dealings, or dirty words, 汚 is your kanji.
concave
JOK: 1032
English speakers rarely refer to concavity, but the Japanese use 凹 in an astonishing variety of ways. They need it when writing about everything from dimpled golf balls, potholes, and cupped hands to inconsistent income and the moon's irregular surface. With 凹, one can also mention cognitive and psychological states. And this kanji is crucial in discussions of both topography and flat abs!
venerable old man
JOK: 1037
Learn to say “old man” in insulting and respectful ways, as well as “the great Basho.” See why it’s not weird to name a baby 翁. Find out how a monk defeated a rock, how the rock still causes trouble, and how a hammer was named after the monk! Read about a Japanese man named after the Great Wall of China. And see why Westerners and the Japanese have opposite views of the albatross.
memory
JOK: 1039
Our unreliable memories play fascinating tricks on us. See how the Japanese talk about such matters, from having mistaken memories to keeping things in mind. Learn a surprising way to improve your memory. And see how to say all of this: "A flood of memories is coursing through my head," "The older we get, the weaker our memory becomes," and "I wish I had a better memory."
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Change component list
By default the component builder shows the most common components (themselves joyo kanji, or used in at least 3 other joyo kanji). Select an alternative set of components below.



Full details of all components and their English names can be found here.
Help with the component builder
For detailed instructions, see the Component builder how to guide.
To find any kanji, first try to identify the components it is made up of.
For any components you recognize, if you know the English meaning or name, start typing it in the text area. Full details of all components and their English names can be found here.
Alternatively, count the strokes of the component, and scan the list to find it visually.
Example
To find the kanji :
  • Notice that it is made of several components: 氵 艹 口 夫.
  • 氵 艹 口 all have three strokes, so you could look in the list in the 3 stroke section. 夫 has four strokes.
  • Alternatively, you could start typing 'water' (氵), 'grass' (艹), 'mouth' (口) or 'husband' (夫) in the search area, and the components will be highlighted in yellow.
  • Keep adding components until you can see your kanji in the list of matches that appears near the top.