The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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strange; mysterious
JOK: 1841
This kanji enables you to talk about everything from subtle nuances and delicate situations to strange dreams, a mysterious light, fitting words, an ingenious idea, exquisite building techniques, a clever fraud, and a skillful clown. By studying this versatile kanji, you’ll even learn to say, “At this time, investing in real estate looks quite profitable” and “Strange to say, I didn’t feel any pain.”
sleep
JOK: 1842
Find out about famous sleepers in literature. See what it means when "even plants are sleeping." Learn terms for sound and disturbed sleep, insomnia, drowsiness, and dozing. On the figurative side, find out how 眠 connects to unused bank accounts, hypnosis, silkworms, and death. Also learn to say, "I’m a light sleeper," "I wish I had enough time to sleep," and "Sleep is better than medicine."
halberd
JOK: 1843
This essay will teach you how to talk about inconsistencies, contradictions, and conflicts. You'll also find out why there's a spear through the heart of these problems. The 矛 shape serves as the "spear" radical, appearing in such unlikely places as characters for "gentleness" and "fog," and the essay explains why. Moreover, it provides a useful mnemonic to help you distinguish 矛 from the look-alike 予 (403: in advance).
dream
JOK: 1844
Find out how to talk about sweet dreams, nightmares, and the daydreams you have while studying kanji. Learn to say, "I sacrificed the present moment for the future," "My dream finally came true," and "Never did I dream that ...," as well as "I'm crazy for kanji"! See how the Japanese neutralize inauspicious dreams and which part of a Tokyo temple was built as the result of a sleep dream.
fog
JOK: 1845
Find out how to refer to fog with different terms, depending on time of day and location, and learn to say that a lake is shrouded in mist. See how 霧 worked its way into a term for a baseball scandal. Discover a term for “totally at a loss” and learn how it inspired a clever put-down of those overseeing the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Also find out how to say that a dream vanished like mist.
daughter
JOK: 1846
See how to use 娘 as "daughter" versus as "young woman." Find out what it means when people say "A bug landed on the daughter-in-a-box" or how a young woman can figuratively be a signboard. Learn why the Japanese would write "parent and daughter" in an ateji way, rather than as 親子. See how various performers and manga characters have connections to 娘, as do Amazonian troops!
inscription
JOK: 1847
This kanji often gives items a stamp of approval. Inscriptions on metal vases, pottery, or swords convey authenticity. The prefix 銘- deems products (e.g., cakes and sakés) 'exclusively made' and 'of high quality." The term for "brand name" includes 銘, drawing on the connection between 銘 and reputation. And a great product engraves itself on your mind - again involving 銘!
destroy
JOK: 1848
With 滅 you can cut a wide swath of destruction. A generous supply of sample sentences will teach you to talk about everything from wiping out whole towns to eradicating diseases, as well as the fall of the Roman empire, the crumbling of traditions, and the extinction of species. You'll also learn terms for "recklessness" and "chaos," even finding out how to say "I'll make it up to you."
overgrown
JOK: 1850
Learn to talk about overgrown gardens, elephants hiding in thickets, and Bruce Willis's sparse hair! Enjoy profiles of celebrities with 茂 in their names, from visionary architect Shigeru Ban to baseball great Hideo Nomo to Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Donkey Kong. Read a fun folktale about a tanuki and a tea kettle. Also find out about a place name that pops up all over Kyoto.
silent
JOK: 1856
Silence plays a special role in Japanese, where one must often intuit what isn’t said, but that’s just one type of silence. The essay looks at many kinds, such as tacit agreements, unwritten rules, acquiescence, clamming up during quarrels, awed speechlessness, remaining silent after an arrest, silent tributes to the dead, mutism, and viewing a disturbing sight but doing nothing about it.
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