The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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harvest
JOK: 1081
Learn which words the Japanese use for harvesting apples, corn, and even pearls versus catching a haul of fish. Learn to say, "I got a lot out of that project," which uses "harvest" figuratively, and "Apple season will come soon," which doesn't. Get into the minds of advertisers who use 穫 to tout a product's freshness. And enjoy a bounty of harvest images, plus a memorable folktale.
lagoon
JOK: 1084
Find out about an annual event with the unstated goal of coating all participants in mud! See why Japan's lagoons are vanishing while its tidelands are increasing. Learn about how the most famous Japanese "lagoon" is not a lagoon. Read about lagoon-based obsessions, famous writings about lagoons, and hidden aspects of Niigata Prefecture (e.g., that it is snowier than Hokkaido!).
hoarse
JOK: 1086
A few words with 喝 are about applauding people, and the rest are about crushing them! Discover the thread connecting terms about (1) cheering for performers and winners; (2) intimidation, threats, and extortion; and (3) a random shout that helps Zen priests achieve enlightenment. Also see how highly religious terms from Zen have made their way into a popular TV sports segment.
thirsty
JOK: 1087
This kanji is both about having insufficient amounts of things (whether water, money, love, or phosphorus) and thirsting for them physically or psychologically. Learn to say, “I’m hungry and thirsty,” “Eating spicy food makes you thirsty,” “I satisfied my craving for nature,” and “Our people thirst for independence.” Also find out which verb quenches thirst and learn how to paint with a dry brush.
brown
JOK: 1089
Find out why the Japanese use 褐 for the color of coffee and why they once dyed armor and weapons indigo for good luck. Learn to say, “She got her dark skin and brown eyes from her father.” See how “chocolate world history” differs from “brown world history.” Find out about “brown fat” and “the brown plague.” And discover the shocking ancestry of a beloved French author.
and another
JOK: 1091
Do you know how to say in Japanese, "The lecture was interesting as well as meaningful," "It was not only quiet but also eerie," and "He speaks English and writes it, too"? How about "She is cheerful, friendly, kind, and moreover considerate" and "Don't respond to your teacher's kindness with indifference"? After reading this essay, you'll know all this and much more!
sweet
JOK: 1093
Even though 甘い (あまい) seems ultra-simple, it has six definitions! Some are straightforward (e.g., sweet tastes and smells). Others are unexpected, as when "sweet" words deceive or spoil others. You'll learn the term for "sweet tooth" and for its opposite, a word that has nothing to do with food! You'll also find out about 甘 as a radical in eight Joyo kanji.
can
JOK: 1095
The yomi most often used for 缶 is KAN. How perfect is that for a kanji that means 'can'?! That isn't entirely a rhetorical question. Really, why is the yomi such a perfect match for the English word? This seemingly straightforward question has anything but a straightforward answer. Find out about this, as well as ways to speak about canned food, canned beverages, and "canned" people (which is not to say that they've been fired or that they're trite!). Learn about 缶 as a radical, too!
fall into
JOK: 1098
Collapsed land. The fall of a city in wartime. Defective cars. Holes in theories. Framing and trapping people. Becoming psychologically or economically depressed. With 陥 you can talk about all these things, as well as saying, “That eventually put him in a very awkward position,” “The news plunged people into distress,” and “Small businesses are feeling the squeeze of inflation.”
intuition
JOK: 1100
Discover how 勘 bridges the brain’s hemispheres! This kanji represents both the sixth sense (which guides perceptions and hunches) and the ability to consider ideas and estimate profit. Learn to say, “Check, please,” “Put it on one bill,” and “Let’s split the bill,” as well as “I would do anything but that,” “Give me a break,” and “That smartphone looks nice, but he can’t afford it.”
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