The Joy o' Kanji Essays

Show: Sort:
Search for essays:
pearl
JOK: 1349
Japan invented a way of making pearls! Find out about pearl culturing and where to go in Japan to learn more about the inventor and his method. Read about divers (mostly women) who have risked it all to collect shellfish. Learn how to say "Tahiti is the pearl of the Pacific" in Japanese. And find out about strings of prayer beads, which have inspired a great figurative expression.
寿
longevity
JOK: 1351
See how to invoke a god's name while saying, "Granddad is fully smiling.” Discover a waterfall that prolongs life. Unpack the riddles inherent in terms for auspicious birthdays. Learn to say, "He lived to a ripe old age," "The human lifespan has become twice as long as before," "Here's to a long and happy life!" and “For eons humans have longed for perpetual youth and longevity.”
Confucius
JOK: 1352
"Even though Japanese ways of thinking are based on Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism, many people think they have no religion." That sample sentence in this essay sheds light on how Confucianism (with its emphasis on hierarchy, filial piety, and education) permeates the culture but how the Japanese don't necessarily recognize the Confucianism underlying their values.
boat
JOK: 1354
Find out how to talk about small, hand-propelled boats, and learn about Japanese boats across the ages, from dugout canoes to washtub boats to small straw boats that play a key role during Bon. See why a book about a retiree unnerved Japan, and learn about a famous story in which a man delights in being arrested. Also learn a boat-related expression for traditional rivals.
excellent
JOK: 1355
Learn to differentiate 天才 (genius) from 秀才 (brilliant person). Discover a script that may have preceded kanji in Japan. And find out how to say, "Everyone recognized him as a brilliant pianist," "He's an outstanding lawyer," "This school is one of the best," "He ought to pass the examination, for he is very capable," "Edison was not a talented student," and "His snow haiku was excellent."
foul-smelling
JOK: 1356
Hold your nose! Learn to say, "This room smells musty," "The corpse smelled putrid," and "He smelled something burning. See how 臭, 匂, and 香 differ; how marketers create neuroses; how persimmons connect to reeking of alcohol; and what it really means to “smell of” water, milk, “green,” or incense. Learn to say, "I sensed no lived-in feeling" and "Every country has a bloody history."
reward
JOK: 1358
Learn to say all of the following: “He was paid well for the work,” “The lawyer’s fee was very high,” “He was too proud to accept any reward,” and “The enemy fired back at us.” Find out how the Japanese talk about nonmonetary rewards, unpaid work, executive pay, and (rather randomly) heckling. Also learn about how housecalls are still a thing in Japan.
uncle
JOK: 1367
Find out how two ancient Chinese brothers influenced current Japanese terms for “uncle” and “aunt,” lending them amazing specificity (though the terms don’t distinguish actual relatives from those close to the family). Decide whether 叔 has an inherent gender. Learn what to call a woman if you want to annoy her. And see why a type of fish is named “old man.”
cram school
JOK: 1370
After a full school day, many Japanese kids head to "cram school" for intensive nighttime tutoring. In this essay, a variety of people chime in about why the Japanese do this, how it profoundly helps and hurts students, how it affects public education and society at large, and more. Copious comments from a former cram school head provide insights and a great language immersion.
genius
JOK: 1371
This kanji mainly pops up in male names, such as those of several authors (e.g., a prolific poet who translates Peanuts comic strips!), an astrophysicist, manga characters, and a prime minister. Learn to say, "He was a precocious child when he was little, but he grew up to be an ordinary adult." Also see what the Japanese think of geniuses and find out how one mom produced four.
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.
×