The Joy o' Kanji Essays

Show: Sort:
Search for essays:
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."
concern
JOK: 1040
With 虞 one can convey anxiety about everything from storms to infections to failure. That may make this kanji sound forbidding, but it often involves preventive measures. See how 虞 differs from sound-alikes. Learn about a gorgeous tourist destination with 虞 in its name. Also find out how 虞 relates to crimes not yet committed, a beautiful woman, and quite indirectly to blowfish!
second
JOK: 1041
A kanji with a dizzying array of meanings, 乙 enables you to sequence items or rank them by quality. It also has definitions related to music, inventive tastes, young women, wit, astrology, and proofreading! This kanji cuts a fine form with its distinctive one-stroke swoosh, which is apt, as it can mean 'stylish.' On top of that, the 'fishhook' radical 乙 appears in several Joyo kanji.
candy
JOK: 1047
Japan produces desserts from the world over, but its traditional confections offer the most surprises. Find out how a Japanese "sweet" may not be sweet at all and how even a fried vegetable could qualify! Also learn about the connection between 菓 and the tea ceremony, a recurring confection fair in Japan, gift cakes and gift horses, and what gods in Japan like to eat and drink.
shoes
JOK: 1052
How did Japan come to make shoes from straw and wood? Why is the "leather" radical all but useless in 靴? How can you say "break in shoes," "tie shoelaces," and "wear two hats (actually shoes!)" in Japanese? How can "red shoes" not be shoes, and who in Japan famously wore red shoes? How have Japanese shoes indicated status? Find out all of these answers and much more!
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.
×