The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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abuse
JOK: 1779
Japan may pride itself on its long traditions and conservative ways. But armed with 弊, people criticize antiquated thinking and talk about abandoning customs. The same kanji enables the Japanese to discuss exhaustion and worn-out objects. Despite all this negativity, people commonly use 弊 for upbeat statements such as “Thank you for your interest in our company.”
lean towards
JOK: 1782
Find out why the kanji that appears in terms for "prejudice," "eccentricity," and "mental imbalance" also represents "left-hand radical." Also learn how this kanji might factor into your acceptance speeches for prestigious awards (E.g., "I owe what I am today to ...").
catch
JOK: 1784
Some of the six Joyo yomi associated with 捕 sound like tongue twisters. This essay tames them through mnemonics and an exercise. Learn to say, "Television viewers see only what the camera captures," "She's a slave to fashion," and "He was eaten up with guilt." See what it means for a person in Japan to have a "main point" or, conversely, to be incomprehensible to others.
inlet
JOK: 1785
See how 浦 conveys all that is beautiful about untouched seashores. Learn the folktale of Taro Urashima. Find out how people use 浦 to say that their hometowns have changed beyond recognition. And become acquainted with a word that features the "water" radical four times!
get dark
JOK: 1789
You might expect a kanji meaning 'to live' to be exuberant. Instead, 暮 captures the gloomy sense of 'We're born with one foot in the grave." Still, you can use this very flexible kanji to talk about all these things: scraping by on a small income, what one does for a living, year-end gifts, twilight, living alone, being lost in thought, and spending all one's time doing something.
home country
JOK: 1792
If you think you know how to say 'Japan,' 邦 comes as a surprise. In Japan, native speakers call each other 日本人 (Japanese), but in other countries they could also use 邦人 (overseas Japanese national). Crossing borders means that vocabulary changes, along with currency and converters! The essay compares 邦 with other kanji for "Japan," looking at the nuances 邦 lends to words.
hug
JOK: 1794
Discover key differences between two verbs written as 抱く. Learn about grudges and sitting on eggs and what connects these things. Read about (not) hugging in Japan, an odd translation of a Beatles song title, bundling products, armfuls of things, caretaking, patience, ambition, and being saddled with work. See how one book title sounds dull in English but erotic in Japanese.
bubble
JOK: 1795
Learn to talk about bubble baths, soapsuds, frothy waves, and whipped cream, as well as many types of alcohol, from bubbling champagne, foaming beer, and sparkling wine to happoshu, Hoppy mixed with shochu, and awamori. Find out what it means to "eat bubbles." Also discover ways of saying that efforts are in vain or that things (including companies) are as short-lived as bubbles.
imitate
JOK: 1798
Although 倣 pops up in words for “copycat” and “counterfeit goods,” it’s not all bad. Imitation may lead to innovation. As one Japanese writer said, “Imitation is the mother of originality, its only real mother.” Our kanji also factors into terms for following in people’s footsteps. Back on the dark side, find out what the “Trump Cannon” is, and see why the Asahi Shimbun is hated!
summit
JOK: 1799
Packed with fun quizzes and great photos, this short essay teaches you to talk about soaring peaks, successive peaks, and the tallest mountain in a range. You'll find out why people compare Mount Fuji to a lotus blossom. The essay also pays close attention to yomi issues, including an unusual pattern of phonetic changes and the oddity of an identical kun-yomi and on-yomi.
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