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JOY O' KANJI

The Joy o' Kanji Essays

Welcome to Joy o’ Kanji, which will enable you to discover the joy of kanji! Below you’ll find introductions to detailed essays covering every aspect of each Jōyō kanji. Through loads of sample sentences and images containing the character in question, the essays give you the real-world experience you need so you can master kanji. You can download the essays in PDF form. After reading them, you can play games and use flashcards to work with the vocabulary and sentences from the essay.
These essays come from our partner, Joy o' Kanji.
More info about Joy o' Kanji
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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.
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.”
vague
JOK: 1700
One-third of Earth's surface is desert, and 1,900 square meters of the planet turn to desert every second. Learn about the desert that may one day be your home! Also find out how, contrary to what one would expect, rainy Japan has connections to deserts. It has two ties to the massive Gobi Desert, one historical, the other environmental. And Japan has little-known deserts of its own!
hair
JOK: 1706
Learn about historic Japanese hairstyles, including those resembling peaches or ginkgo leaves and one inspired by prostitutes, as well as a boxy pillow women used so as not to muss their hair. See what unexpected roles Edo-era barbershops played. Find out why you should grab the goddess's bangs, where to pray for your hair, and what Japanese men said about Marilyn Monroe.
fell (an enemy)
JOK: 1707
See how trees can be difficult! Find out why marketers emphasize that products have been made from wood felled in thinning the forest, and discover the thinking behind thinning forests at all. Then explore figurative uses of 伐 in terms about savage behavior, punitive expeditions to subjugate rebels, and the conquest of other countries. Also learn about a Japanese Robin Hood!
sell
JOK: 1715
Find out the staggering range of items that Japanese vending machines sell (including eggs!), as well as several terms for such machines. Learn to say that a type of car is on the market or will soon be (which requires a different word!), retailing for a certain amount, though a sales promotion will bring a discount. Scads of photos reinforce the most important 販 terms.
partition
JOK: 1718
One shrine is handing out sweets. Other shrines sell amulets or magic beans. The essay contains signs with details about such offerings because 頒 represents the way in which people distribute goods. That includes printed matter; sample sentences are about disseminating manga at the Comic Market, handing out brochures at City Hall, and publishing stories in booklet form.
queen
JOK: 1724
Think you know what a princess is? This essay, which is largely organized around photos, illuminates the meanings of “princess,” “empress,” and “crown princess”; 妃 versus 姫; “regnant” versus “consort”; and much more. We look closely at Japan’s imperial household (especially Princess Masako), as well as royalty in Britain and France, even touching on Monaco and Manchuria!
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By default the component builder shows the most common components (themselves joyo kanji, or used in at least 3 other joyo kanji). Select an alternative set of components below.



Full details of all components and their English names can be found here.
Help with the component builder
For detailed instructions, see the Component builder how to guide.
To find any kanji, first try to identify the components it is made up of.
For any components you recognize, if you know the English meaning or name, start typing it in the text area. Full details of all components and their English names can be found here.
Alternatively, count the strokes of the component, and scan the list to find it visually.
Example
To find the kanji :
  • Notice that it is made of several components: 氵 艹 口 夫.
  • 氵 艹 口 all have three strokes, so you could look in the list in the 3 stroke section. 夫 has four strokes.
  • Alternatively, you could start typing 'water' (氵), 'grass' (艹), 'mouth' (口) or 'husband' (夫) in the search area, and the components will be highlighted in yellow.
  • Keep adding components until you can see your kanji in the list of matches that appears near the top.