The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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purity
JOK: 1455
By studying 粋, you might learn how to be cool, and you’ll definitely learn to comment on people’s failed attempts at stylishness! You’ll immerse yourself in the spirit of Edo culture and see how it permeates the language today. Plus, you’ll discover words for “purity,” “nationalism,” and “the best of technology,” also finding out how to say “He is a Parisian through and through.”
accomplish
JOK: 1458
Journey to the dark side with terms for attempted crimes, learning to say, “He is accused of attempted robbery.” Then move to the sunny side with positive keywords about achieving things. Sample sentences include, “Come what may, I am determined to accomplish it,” “I will do it at all costs,” “He is equal to the task,” and “He persisted in accomplishing his original plan.”
ear (of a plant)
JOK: 1460
How do a cattail, calligraphy pen, and fishing rod relate to 穂? When an ear of rice hangs low, what does that figuratively mean in Japan? How about a grafted plant? Which name for Japan means 'Land of Abundant Rice'? Why would a faucet be compared to a rice plant on Amazon? Which French painting related to grain is famous in Japan? Read the essay to find all these answers and more!
dark
JOK: 1461
This essay teaches you how to complain about vague comments, ambiguous replies, obscure explanations, uncertain stances, and lax attitudes. Moreover, the text touches on the role of ambiguity in Japanese culture, "aimai" accents in Japan, and disambiguation in computer contexts. Also find out about an unexpected connection between Oscar Wilde and Yukio Mishima!
follow
JOK: 1462
This kanji can represent opposites—both obeying orders and doing as one pleases! Learn to say, “I traveled wherever my fancy took me,” “The small boat drifted at the mercy of the waves,” and “The orchid has an extremely vivid color.” Also find out how to say, “Our techniques are unrivaled,” “This plan comes with a problem” and “It seems a long way from here to the town.”
hinge
JOK: 1464
The bolt called 枢 (くるる) slides into the cavity called 枢 (とぼそ), just as the knob called 枢 (とまら) fits into the hole called 枢 (とぼそ)! This apparent brain teaser actually supplies early meanings of 枢, which came to play a role in words for central things, ranging from the central nervous system to the center of political power. This kanji also pops up in terms for “Axis powers” and “axis of evil”!
cedar
JOK: 1467
Native to Japan, this towering tree lives 500 years - and more than two millennia on one island! Living cedars may be seen as sacred, receiving attention even from the emperor. Meanwhile, felled cedars turn into everything from soy sauce barrels to "magewappa." Discover unexpected relationships between cedar and saké, as well as between postwar reconstruction and pollenosis.
furrow
JOK: 1468
This kanji, which symbolizes the hills that some crop farmers make in fields, belongs squarely in the agricultural realm. However, 畝 also represents ridges in knit items, ribbed fabric, and the like, and therefore has a firm presence in the sphere of shopping! Plus, the Japanese once used 畝 as a measurement of areas. Finally, this kanji pops up in names, notably that of one heroic man.
well
JOK: 1470
Why have the Japanese worshipped well water, shouted down wells, and jokingly called the Edo era the "Ido" era? How do people use the shape of a well in everything from kimono cloth to business slang? How does 井 figure into economic and political discussions? Find out all of this and much more, including the role of wells in folktales, proverbs, and Haruki Murakami's fiction.
equal
JOK: 1473
The equals symbol lies at the heart of 斉, which factors into words about equality, symmetry, and proportion (e.g., "She has a well-proportioned figure."). The most important bit of 斉 vocabulary means "simultaneous." With this word you can say that an audience bursts into laughter together or that birds break into song at the same time. Meanwhile, a negative prefix turns a 斉 compound into a term for "asymmetry," one of the seven principles of wabi-sabi. Also find out when 斉 serves as a radical or component in other characters.
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