The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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dragon
JOK: 1899
Unlike Europeans, who have feared dragons, the Japanese have viewed them as mythical or divine since ancient times. The dragon is even more important in China, where it symbolizes the emperor, is associated with water and weather, and is an imaginary creature in legends. In this essay you'll find out about dragons from every angle, including the following: animals with dragons inside them, tense relations between dragons and tigers, dragons that fly away, and the dragon inside the waterfall kanji. In more practical terms, you'll read about Chinese dragon boats, as well as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, who both had connections to dragons. Finally, you'll discover whatever there is to know about the "dragon" radical - and why one might be tempted to call it the "hidden dragon" radical. Incidentally, 竜 is a Shin-Joyo kanji; it's a 2010 addition to the Joyo set.
consideration
JOK: 1904
This is an essay of Thou Shalt Nots, filled with signs issuing prohibitions. But it’s not all negative; some sentences with 慮 encourage people to ask questions freely and to eat cake. Several keywords involve being thoughtful and sensible. Learn to say, “We failed to take the weather into account” and “It was a silly misjudgment to decide, after seeing the prototype, that we failed.”
tears
JOK: 1916
Learn how tears well up, trickle, and stream in Japanese and how to say that you're moved to tears. Start complaining about your pittance of a salary, and find out how to say that you've overlooked an insult. See how money can blunt the pain of a breakup. Also learn about the tears associated with sparrows, mosquitoes, crocodiles, and devils, as well as with chopsticks and blood.
accumulate
JOK: 1917
See what “heaps of corpses” means figuratively. Learn to discuss accumulated fatigue. Study 累 as “successive,” as in, “He gradually rose to higher positions,” “Successive wars completely ruined the country,” and “This place is his ancestral tomb.” Also find out about 累 as “trouble” in phrases for “to cause trouble” and a term for “dependents,” as in “He has no family members to support.”
base (in baseball)
JOK: 1918
This kanji seems to be designed for baseball haters, but this essay is for baseball lovers. Learn to say that the first batter up got a single, Ishida stole third, a player was thrown out at second, and bases were loaded with two outs in the ninth inning. You'll even be able to say, "Matsui pulled the Giants back from the brink with a grand slam that gave them a come-from-behind victory."
encourage
JOK: 1919
Inspiring others, and working so diligently that one torments oneself! Our kanji spans these very different ideas, with zeal as the connection. Learn to say, “She encouraged him to write a novel,” “His success greatly encouraged me,” and “Give her a pep talk,” as well as “Instead of taking a break, he worked much harder than usual” and “Her courage during her illness is an inspiration to us all.”
return
JOK: 1920
With the eminently useful 戻 kanji, you can talk about returning to a place, recovering from illness or jet lag, and making up with someone. Mastering 戻 enables you to say, "We can't backslide," "He brought the world back to its senses," "We must work hard to make up for lost time," "I'd like a refund," "The article revived my passion for Eastern religions," and much more!
small bell
JOK: 1921
From small, jingly bells to resonant singing bowls, from “cooling” wind chimes to enormous bells at shrines, 鈴 can be heard throughout Japan. But this kanji is most important for its role in the name Suzuki. Read profiles of six famous Suzukis. Also learn about the unexpected influence of 鈴 on the names “Isuzu” and “Misuzu.” And find out what it means figuratively to bell a cat.
zero
JOK: 1922
Knowing 零 gives you access to terms for subzero temperatures and 12:00. But far beyond that, truly grasping 零 enables you to say all of the following: “There is no chance of rain this weekend,” “They were shut out two games in a row,” “The sun peeked through,” “The milk boiled over,” “Hungry dogs were hoping for scraps,” and “I beg you to overlook my offense.” What a range!
calendar
JOK: 1927
Learn why Amazon describes a new calendar as 新暦・旧暦. Find out about Japan's relatively recent switch to a solar calendar, an event that inspired a novel, manga, and movie! Learn to calculate age and the year in multiple ways, read about the significance of turning 60 in Japan, and learn about calendars for illiterates and flower calendars. Also see why one temple has 暦 in its name.
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