The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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鹿
deer
JOK: 2025
In parts of Japan (e.g., in Nara and Miyajima), deer are quite visible - so much so that oblivious people can't see the mountains for the deer, figuratively speaking. Because it's half of 馬鹿 (fool), this new Joyo kanji enables us to ridicule idiots (who have a contagious and incurable condition, by the way). As both a radical and an autonomous kanji, 鹿 appears in the names of several animals.
sleeve
JOK: 2030
An essay chock-full of quizzes explains how sleeves have connections to shady dealings, sexual attraction, and lanterns. See how kimono design relates to marital status. Find out about a cursed kimono and a fish that has fins like kimono sleeves. Learn to say “signboard projecting from a building” and “desk with drawers on one side,” as well as “I'd like a long-sleeved shirt in yellow.”
ashamed
JOK: 2031
Find out how to say, "A bashful look came over her face," "These slums are a disgrace to our city," "I'm ashamed of my poor English," and "You ought to be ashamed of yourself." Learn to overcome performance anxiety, especially by seeing the audience as vegetables! Find out how the name of a popular band arose from a misreading of 羞. And read about famously shy people.
kick
JOK: 2032
Whether you’re a fan of soccer, martial arts, or cockfights, 蹴 is for you. The same is true if you want to talk about kicking a vending machine hard, kicking someone accidentally, a mule that kicks up dust, or a horse that kicks when anyone approaches from behind. With 蹴 you can also speak of rejecting demands, beating challengers, stamping on the floor in anger, and treating someone poorly.
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.
foot of a mountain
JOK: 2039
Find out how 裾 went from meaning “hem” to "foot of a mountain.” See how 裾 relates to coral reefs, a hairstyle, and two sumo moves. Discover terms for parts of kimonos and other garments. Learn to say, "Karen's skirt is riding up," "He tucked in his shirt," "Let’s go to the foot of Fuji," and "I think the scope of volunteer activities should expand." Also find out what the “NTR” genre is.
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!
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