The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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nest
JOK: 1521
Nests—they’re not just for the birds. Spiders, bees, and even dragons live in homes symbolized by 巣. Humans, too, inhabit “nests” until they leave their parents’ home (a move expressed with 巣). Find out about nest-building agreements between crows and people. Learn to discuss feelings strongly rooted in the heart. And see why 巣 is embroiled in a radical controversy.
vat
JOK: 1527
Though 槽 isn't glamorous, representing sturdy containers such as tanks, tubs, vats, and troughs, it is relevant to everyday life. This kanji pops up in terms for bathtubs, washing machines, fish tanks, oil tanks, saké vats, water tanks, and vessels for purifying human waste. Enjoy wordplay involving washing machines, and learn how scallop shells can help clean these appliances!
dry up
JOK: 1528
By understanding 燥, you can talk about everything from dry skin and dehydration to dried fruit and dryers. You'll be able to say, "We preserve shiitake mushrooms by drying them," and you'll know terms for "instant miso," "sun-dried mackerel," and "powdered milk," as well as "arid land" and "dry season." With 燥 you can even have a good time, as that's a minor meaning!
hate
JOK: 1532
It's important to know if others hate you. It's even more crucial to recognize that someone is using 憎 ironically to say that you're cute or amazing. Find out when the Japanese avoid mentioning hatred and when they're surprisingly direct. See which book titles contain 憎, including one about tsunami victims who simply can't hate the sea. And enjoy a folktale about love gone horribly awry.
bundle
JOK: 1535
With 束, you can create order: Establish binding agreements, promises, and appointments. Pull together unions! Using just one verb, either make a ponytail or govern a nation! If you have keys on a keyring, a cluster of raw noodles, or a bouquet, 束 is a vital kanji. See how bundles of cash have inspired fun idioms. Also learn how a wooden post gave rise to a common term for "short-lived."
peace
JOK: 1538
In a country that values harmony, one term for “compromise” has negative connotations! Learn to say, “It’s against my principles to compromise” and “The mayor will compromise to a certain degree,” as well as “His theory is widely accepted as valid,” “His proposal is reasonable,” “It was quite right of her to do that,” and “You ought to think about whether or not the premise is valid.”
laziness
JOK: 1540
Find out how social critics view the fierce work ethic in Japan (some finding it lacking!), and see why the Japanese disdain idleness. Learn to say “His idle lifestyle ruined him,” “He was lazy and irresponsible,” and “Break out of the inertia in your life.” Discover how 惰 and another laziness kanji differ in nuance. See what it means to “devour lazy sleep.” And learn a fun term for a lazy animal.
waterfall
JOK: 1550
Learn about the waterfall in Japan, from its role in religion to the use of 滝 as a simile. With great photos of Japanese waterfalls, as well as enticing tidbits about them, the essay could turn you into a waterfall tourist in Japan. One must-see spot: a hot-springs waterfall powered by an active volcano!
marsh
JOK: 1552
For a kanji that appears in relatively few compounds and that means 'marsh,' 'plentiful,' 'to glisten,' and 'benefit' (a range that makes the head spin), 沢 seems to poke its head up in quite a few places. It's the 489th most used kanji in newspapers. That's puzzling, but this essay will reveal the reason. It will also teach you the names of several types of dishes, help you talk about luxury, and put the luster back in your life (if it's missing).
clear the way
JOK: 1554
This kanji embodies the spirit of visionaries who see possibilities, people who want to carve out the future, and pioneers who blaze mountain trails, develop land that’s under the sea, and grow olives on Shodoshima. Learn to say, “He devoted half of his life to developing Hokkaido,” “We have to find a new market for these products,” and even “I haven't tried restaurants around here.”
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