The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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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.
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.
magnificent
JOK: 1271
Certain people stand out because they have strength of character, courage, free spirits, and loads of talent. We also tend to notice wealthy and powerful sorts, as well as the luxurious places they enjoy. Knowing 豪 gives us copious ways of talking about such people and places. It also pops up in words for “heavy drinker,” “torrential rain,” and “Australia.”
marriage
JOK: 1278
This essay puts a finger on the pulse of current anxieties about finding a spouse in an "herbivore" nation. Quizzes reveal just how many types of marriage and divorce there can be. Photos showcase picture brides and Shinto weddings. The essay abounds in terms related to engagements, fancy or toned-down ceremonies, shotgun weddings, honeymoons, and anniversary gifts.
soul
JOK: 1280
As you can see from terms such as 大和魂 (the Japanese spirit), 言霊 (the soul of language), and 士魂商才 (having a samurai's spirit and a merchant's business sense), matters of the soul and spirit are important in Japan. Learn to talk about putting your heart and soul into something, plus kanji as the soul of Japan. Also find out how to welcome back dead spirits on o-Bon.
groundbreaking
JOK: 1281
Japan wouldn't be what it is if people hadn't labored to cultivate the land, making it suitable for agriculture and human habitation. Learn how the Japanese use 墾 to represent that major effort, and find out how to combine 墾 with just a few common kanji so you can talk about lands both tamed and wild. Find out how one term can mean both "cultivated land" and its opposite.
tempt
JOK: 1284
With 唆 you can make trouble and influence people. The influence may be as mild as offering a suggestion, arousing a sense of adventure, or whetting someone’s appetite. But the kanji also relates to all of the following acts: inciting one’s kids to be terrorists, persuading people to commit crimes, abetting a prison escape, and tempting someone sexually.
superintend
JOK: 1288
From the head of the haiku society to Prime Minister Abe, 宰 enables you to talk about the person in charge. By reading about 宰 in this essay, you'll also learn about an ancient, powerful organization that shaped Japanese culture, a great man who ran Japan after the war, and a fascinating writer whose personal life was such a mess that it'll make you feel good about yours!
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