The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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ancient; old
JOK: 1481
Discover how calling something "old-fashioned" in Japanese can be an insult or a compliment. Learn to say that the recent past feels like ancient history. Also learn to say "I used to be a different person," "Hollywood isn't what it used to be," and "That was then and this is now." Find out how although 昔 can currently mean "decade," it once meant a time span as long as 66 years!
ships
JOK: 1483
Learn to talk about missing eyes and limbs, as in “Shigeru Mizuki was a manga artist with one arm.” By extension, the “one of a pair” sense of 隻 enables you to say, “There's no trace of the enemy” and “He never misses any of his teacher's words.” Also learn to discuss ships with 隻, saying, “Don't risk putting all the cargo in one ship” and “Some ships are sailing on the sea.”
trace
JOK: 1485
Discover why Sun Yat-sen’s handwriting mattered to the Japanese, and find out how they feel about the look of razor stubble and harvested fields. Also see why a Nagoya well contained gold, how ruins relate to one generation, and what “crow footprints” represent. Learn to say, “We found footprints in the sand,” “There is no sign of life on Mars,” and “Each era has left its mark.”
bungling
JOK: 1487
With 拙, you can condemn art as crude, writing as unsophisticated, foreign policy as unskillful, and yourself as incompetent. But 拙 isn’t only about impossibly high standards. The essay shows that speed sometimes matters more than good results. Of course, maybe others won't see your shoddy work that way. Conveniently, the essay also teaches you to say, “I’m screwed!”
stealth
JOK: 1488
By reading about everything from art heists to kleptomania, learn to say that a person is suspected of theft, is charged with theft, and is guilty of theft. Find out what there is to steal from Japanese temples and how such thefts have played out internationally. See whether or not the Japanese have traditionally protected their property and whether or not thievery has been an issue in Japan.
hermit
JOK: 1490
Coming from an ancient Taoist context, 仙 blurs the line between what's real and fictional. It refers to a human who has become immortal with magical powers, as seen in Japanese folktales and art. People use 仙 in more grounded ways when discussing geniuses and oddballs. Find out why 仙 is in the name of a major Japanese city, one that pops up in the names of some beef dishes.
occupy
JOK: 1491
Both the prehistoric and modern worlds have influenced 占, producing a strange brew of military behavior, money making, and the occult! Find out about scads of divination modalities. Also learn to say, "This desk takes up too much room," "The rebels have captured the broadcasting station," "Please refrain from buying up all the goods," and "Let me tell your fortune with cards."
folding fan
JOK: 1492
You might be envisioning a handheld fan as a dainty item held by a dainty woman, but war commanders used to hold fans, and fans have served as weapons! Far from being confined to a genteel world, 扇 plays a role in words about instigating trouble. Learn about two shapes of fans and see how they influence animal and plant names, as well as descriptions of many everyday objects.
plug
JOK: 1493
See how the Japanese perceive hydrants as faucets and how 栓 pertains to procedures for moving out of a home. Discover the onomatopoeia for “coming out with a pop,” as with a cork. Learn to say, "We're ready to eat, so can you open a bottle of wine?" "Store sealed in a dry, cool, and dark location," "Even after I turned on the faucet, no water came out," and "The main tap is turned off."
step
JOK: 1495
This kanji is for people who like to take action! Our character appears in the titles of "practical manuals" and books that offer "practical training." By studying 践, you'll learn to say, "Actions speak louder than words," "He used Western knowledge in a Japanese way," "Anyone can put it into practice," 'It's important to combine theory with practice,' and "He carried out his duty."
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