The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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JOK: 1244
This essay immerses you in Edo (the old name for Tokyo) and its cultural, linguistic, and botanical legacies. Read about Edo-style sushi (which you likely love!), see what characterizes a true Edoite/Tokyoite, and find out what "Little Edo" and "Big Edo" mean now. Learn to read 江 in several names, some famous. Also meet the alligators and dolphins associated with the Yangtze River!
again
JOK: 1248
See how the four Joyo yomi of 更 will take you in very different directions. With ふ•ける and ふ•かす, you can stay up late. With さら, you can talk about what's new. By adding hiragana to さら, you produce adverbs, such as one for 'furthermore.' Finally, コウ means 'change' in terms for 'renewal,' 'revision,' and 'rehabilitation.' As a bonus, learn what it means to change clothes in Japan!
agreement
JOK: 1250
You’ll be nodding your head in agreement as you discover terms for “consent” and “affirmation,” as well as “self-esteem.” Learn to say, “The author received a bunch of positive reviews,” “The answer was yes,” “There are many positive opinions about the original plan,” “I cannot agree with that opinion,” and “He nodded as he listened attentively to my speech.”
constancy
JOK: 1251
Find out what's "fixed" about a star - and why a planet conversely seems confused! Then come back to Earth to focus on steady livelihoods, annual events, constant wars, and permanent peace. See how "constant river sand" traveled from India through China into Buddhism and even further from there. And learn how a poisoning scandal from 1955 could help Fukushima victims.
flood
JOK: 1252
Learn how floods pose a serious threat in ultra-rainy Japan, which now has the world's largest underground flood-prevention facility. Find out how to talk about real and figurative floods. Hear Okinawan "flood myths," and see what the Japanese say about Noah's flood. Examine 洪 in the names of a huge bell, famous ship, well-known doctor, star athlete, and two countries.
suburbs
JOK: 1254
The difference between cities and suburbs is hard to discern in Japan. A Japanese city includes the surrounding area, even if it is mountainous or rural. Read about that and learn to talk about city outskirts and suburbs. Also discover a term for any city located 1 to 1.5 hours by train from a metropolis, see where the Japanese do urban farming, and find out about so-called new towns.
fragrance
JOK: 1255
With a plethora of photos, this essay shows how 香 conveys the scent of everything from coffee to flowers in signs from around the globe. This kanji also means "incense" (which has played an important role in Japanese culture and religion for centuries), as well as 'perfume' (which hasn't). On top of that, 香 factors into two notable place names and some food terms. It's even a radical!
disconcerted
JOK: 1259
With 慌 we can talk about someone who is late, careless, or flustered. The same kanji helps us discuss mass panic about the economy or about an earthquake. See how the kun-yomi zooms in on the individual and how the on-yomi relates to the public. Learn to say, “The question threw him off,” “One needn’t panic,” and “Because he acts hastily, he’s likely to jump to conclusions.”
wring (out)
JOK: 1261
The 絞 kanji affords access to practical devices, such as juice squeezers and garlic presses. This kanji also introduces us to Japanese tie-dyeing. But 絞 really comes to life with its figurative uses, enabling us to put the screws on someone, squeeze money out of people, zero in on something, weed out applicants, and rack our brains. See what it means to strangle slowly with a silk cord.
ferment
JOK: 1265
Find out about yeast, fermentation, and enzymes and the magical changes they produce. See how all three relate to miso, soy sauce, natto, and more, especially regarding umami. Discover which type of yeast people consume directly in Japan. Also learn to say, "Fermentation changes fruit juice into wine," "Yeast makes beer ferment," and "Enzymes break down fat in the body."
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