The Joy o' Kanji Essays

Show: Sort:
plant
JOK: 1289
The Japanese excel at farming. Find out what they're up to with organic and pesticide-free cultivation, particularly since 2011, when the Tohoku disasters made people anxious about food safety. See where the Japanese have experimented with growing olives. Learn how to coax secrets out of bonsai. And read plot summaries from the TV show "Weeds” about growing marijuana!
to color
JOK: 1290
Knowing 彩, you can discuss color in artwork, saying things like “Using watercolors, he made strokes with an almost vertical brush.” Aside from art contexts, 彩 helps you talk about brilliance and vividness, saying, for instance, “The newcomer’s work is remarkably brilliant,” “He seems really depressed and lifeless today,” and “He has stood out since his school days.“
dish
JOK: 1307
Learn words for everything from segmented condiment dishes to ice cube trays. Find out how to count empty and full plates differently and to ask servers for share plates. See how corporations and nursery schools can be saucers, hear about ghostly torment associated with dishes, and learn where we keep dishes in the body. Also discover the role 皿 plays in 18 Joyo kanji.
scaffold
JOK: 1308
This kanji gets around! It appears in terms for "door frame" and "windowsill," as well as words such as "pier" and "wharf." This character also has connections to bridges, ladders, roof tiles, fabrics, sumo stadiums, kabuki theaters, rice containers, and more! Reading about 桟 takes you to a touristy pier in Yokohama that resembles a ferry, as well as a place called Elephant's Trunk!
umbrella
JOK: 1310
Find out how paper umbrellas are made and why they're rare. Discover why one type of Western umbrella (which is named after a blind animal!) was banned in the Osaka area. Also see why one kind of umbrella has 蛇 (snake) in its name. Learn to say "overprotected," "subsidiary," and "mushroom cap" with 傘, and read about the role of umbrellas in kabuki dances and in young love.
temporarily
JOK: 1311
Find out about a common term that means both "a short while" and "a long while," sometimes confusing native speakers! Learn to talk about tentatively set times, provisional agreements, and interim governments. And see how various ways of saying "It's been awhile!" or "He came back after awhile" have subtly different nuances, as do assorted terms that mean "for awhile."
limb
JOK: 1317
Find out about a kanji in which, etymologically, human limbs are likened to tree branches. Learn to refer to physical disabilities in general, to people who have them, to phantom pain, and to types of paralysis. See how the Japanese compare a sexy woman to a certain lithe animal that pops up three times in this essay. And discover how 肢 ended up in a word for “choices.”
purple
JOK: 1320
Purple (紫) has special meaning in Japan. An old name for one of the four major islands contains 紫. The 'Tale of Genji' author chose an alias that included 紫. Kyoto and Edo each had a shade of purple named after them, thanks to a purple plant dye. Purple is associated with various types of elites in Japan. And some Japanese perceive soy sauce and tobacco smoke as purple!
luxuriant
JOK: 1327
Do you associate "nutritious" with "delicious"? The answer may depend on culture! Find out how to talk about both things with the same term, which can also mean "feast for the senses." See how Japanese and European ideas about medicinal cooking have intertwined, discover how Japanese superstars boost their energy, and learn how to help your ears by tending to your kidneys!
axis
JOK: 1330
From Earth’s axis to a penholder, from a car axle to the shaft of a feather, 軸 represents entities that are straight and long. In addition, 軸 has fun figurative uses, enabling people to say, “the core of my thinking,” “innovative plan,” “central role,” and “Language is a vertical axis connecting you to your ancestors.” Our kanji is also in terms for “Axis powers” and “axis of evil.” Learn their back stories!
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.
×