The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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pork
JOK: 1670
Sorry, vegetarians! This essay will be hard to stomach, as the bulk of 豚 terms involve pork. The good news is that 豚 also appears in fanciful sayings, harsh insults, and terms for other animals, including blowfish (“river pigs”), dolphins (“sea pigs”), and aardvarks (“earth pigs”). The bad news is that some of those animals also end up on people’s plates!
尿
urine
JOK: 1675
Find out why a novel and a memoir contain 尿 in their titles. Discover how Edo-era people repurposed excrement for a profit. Learn to say that you want to urinate, and find out how to discuss problems such as frequent urination. Also see why the Japanese are extra-aware of uric acid levels and albumin and why the Japanese word for "albumin" contains characters for "egg white."
sticky
JOK: 1679
Knowing this kanji enables us to talk about sticky substances (from natto and rice to Post-It notes) and about a stick-to-it attitude in life, in sports, and in business. Learn to say, "You hung in there very well, but I won." Find out which term for "tenacious" is positive (i.e., persevering) and which is negative (i.e., persistent). Also learn terms related to clay, adhesion, viscosity, and more.
thick
JOK: 1681
This kanji brings us intense eye colors, strong cups of coffee, deep love, and flavorful food. Learn to talk about everything from the salt levels in the Dead Sea to hot-pink iPhones, dark soy sauce, and juice sold as a concentrate. Find out how to refer to the pronounced scars of World War II and to unusually well-defined Japanese faces. Also learn to say "chock-full of blueberry flavor."
grasp; bundle
JOK: 1682
With one essay, you’ll learn to say all of the following: “I don’t have a handle on the situation,” “She has good control over her class,” “We kept track of all our expenses from the trip,” “I grasped the entire structure of his argument,” “He’s the type that doesn’t worry about details,” “Spinach is 100 yen a bunch,” “The pitcher handle was broken,” and “Don’t lump all these issues together.”
cup
JOK: 1685
If you invite someone out for drinks, use saké cups, make a toast, and count how many drinks you've had, 杯 will come in very handy. And if you drink till you're tipsy and full in a cheap drinking spot filled with people, you'll need 杯 four more times. As if this kanji weren't useful enough, you can also use it when counting octopi (which you might do after enough drinks)!
reject
JOK: 1686
Words with 排 run the gamut from xenophobic policies to culverts that drain water. To make sense of this range, simply perceive 排 as 'pushing out what's bad or unnecessary.' When cars spew exhaust and people scurry to toilets, 排 drives this outward flow. With 排, you can also say that you're overcoming difficulties, doing away with old rules, or doing something at all costs.
plum tree
JOK: 1689
See how Japanese apricots (ume) relate to the rainy season, the new year, haiku, Osaka, a god sleeping in poisonous ume pits, shochu, senbei, syphilis, pine and bamboo, and childbirth. See how ume blossoms have inspired paintings, sweets, and color terms. Also read about ume-related pickles, a manly candy, flying ume, and shrines with connections to ume.
clap
JOK: 1695
Your heart will beat faster as you find out how to keep time in Japanese, how to be offbeat, how to clap at a shrine, and how the word for this differs from the term for ordinary clapping. Learn to say, "The moment I stood up, I hit my head." Find out why people compare julienned veggies to certain pieces of wood, and see all the ways in which the Japanese use that wood.
ship
JOK: 1698
Understand which kanji to choose when communicating about ships versus smaller boats. Discover terms for goods imported by sea, and find out how the use of airplanes changed the use of those words. Also learn to say, “We imported books by sea” and “Not a few people think that any foreign-made articles are superior to those made in this country.”
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