The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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mulberry
JOK: 1518
The Japanese have found uses for every part of the mulberry - the fruit, leaves, wood, bark, and roots. In Japan, mulberries have been so important that some maps mark mulberry fields. Aside from its mulberry connections, 桑 factors into the names of several significant places, including San Francisco and Japan itself! Our kanji also pops up in surprising sayings and a famous bit of wordplay.
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.
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."
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).
entrust
JOK: 1555
When we trust another (whether a babysitter or a bank) with what we care about most, 託 plays a key role. By using this kanji, we can consign goods and establish trust funds. This character also leads us into a world of bribery and conspiracy! Read about 託 to find out why a bank chose Peter Rabbit, a vegetable thief, as its mascot!
muddy
JOK: 1558
A lack of transparency holds fascinating secrets, and so it is with the muddiness of 濁. This kanji connects to evasive answers, impure hearts, and "muddy streams" in finance, plus muddied sounds, murkiness in the body and mind, and figurative birds that may or may not muddy waterways. Learn about saké production, and find out what "A bad boy drinks tea" could mean!
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