The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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yearn for
JOK: 2033
This kanji enables us to talk about people we find hot, the professionals we admire, and the celebrities we worship. We can also use it to convey our yearning for a lifestyle (urban or rural), our dreams for the future (and how 夢 differs in this respect), and our longing for the past. See how the Japanese freely coin terms with 憧, leaving even native speakers uncertain about the yomi.
core
JOK: 2036
Exercise your core muscles! This essay shows how one kanji can represent everything from apple cores, candle wicks, metal staples, and pencil lead to the soft innards of a quilt and (ideally) harder core muscles. Learn to say, “I’m chilled to the core.” Find out how to talk about the dead center of a baseball bat and taking a “bite” out of a golf ball. Also discover a connection to female orgasm!
kidney
JOK: 2037
Chinese Medicine teaches that the kidney is the seat of health, the source of life energy, and even the most essential organ! The Japanese draw on this concept in words about what is important. Find out how sitting at a desk can weaken the kidneys and how you can conversely strengthen your life force, remove lower back pain, clear the head, boost life energy, and live longer!
ought
JOK: 2038
Learn to say "Fluency is a must," and discover terms for "indispensable expression," "required subject," and "mandatory item." Meet a god who was disabled as a child and a shark perceived as an incarnation of that god. Also read about types of pottery, an instrument with one string, Nagoya history and place names, and the mountain at the center of the Buddhist world.
weird
JOK: 2040
The Japanese constantly say 凄い! (すごい!: Amazing!), so it’s amazing (!) to find out about 凄 and all of its surprises: the reason for its “ice” radical, the way 凄 has just one Joyo yomi (it's not すご•い!), and the shockingly negative nuance 凄 can have (as in words for "ghastly" and "violent"). Learn terms that intensify 凄い. And discover the revolting ingredient in a Viagra-like drink!
wake up
JOK: 2041
Whether you awaken from sleep, awaken to reality, or wake up your pineal gland, 醒 is your kanji! It enables athletes to awaken dormant talents, leading to headlines such as "Naomi Osaka Comes to Life"! Discover how to talk about spoiled fun and ruined moods and how to say that you're half-asleep. Also learn how you can sober up with a double shot of the "saké" radical!
boil
JOK: 2044
Learn words for “light roast (coffee),” “roasted soybeans (for Setsubun),” “steeping tea,” and “warming saké,” as well as “in a nutshell” and a term for roasting human organs (figuratively)! Find out how sencha stacks up against other green teas, discover the wide range of senbei (rice crackers), and see which deep-fried snack is healthy. Also learn what “senbei futon” means.
envious
JOK: 2045
Learn to say, "Anne is the envy of all her friends," "She could only stare at her slender friend enviously," and "It has a location anyone would envy." Find out how to talk about envying success or a new house, and learn the Japanese for things like "enviably beautiful skin" and "The Philippines is in an enviable position." Also discover the Buddhist equivalent of the 10 Commandments!
composition
JOK: 2048
For millennia, humans have jotted down notes, and 箋 has long served that purpose. Find out which materials the ancient Chinese and Japanese wrote on before paper. Also learn terms for pieces of paper that serve various functions, from Post-its and stationery to prescriptions. As several images show in this illustration-packed essay, the word for "prescription" can be richly figurative.
tray
JOK: 2049
Learn about inventions in Japanese dining, such as box trays and low personal tables, both of which people whisk away after meals. Read about formal meals in which one eats from dishes on multiple trays, and learn when a tray should or shouldn't have legs. Find out why a popular bento box has theater connections and why one meal-related term means "a woman's sexual advances."
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