The Joy o' Kanji Essays

Show: Sort:
Search for essays:
pupil (of the eye)
JOK: 2079
Find out why Japanese friends tease each other about their pupils. Learn how to talk about staring hard at something and how to say that pupils contract in sunlight (or dilate under certain naughty influences!). See why a brand of rice is called Dragon's Eyes and why a Daruma doll initially has blank eyes. Enjoy an immersion (and 4 vivid photos) in the world of a classic film with 瞳 in the title.
horse chestnut
JOK: 2080
Find out about the Japanese horse chestnut tree, and see how it has contributed to cuisine in Japan. Learn why figures into the name of a medicinal plant that has nothing to do with the Japanese horse chestnut tree. Discover the highlights of Tochigi Prefecture, and see how its flag features in a creative way. Also learn figurative terms involving a rolling pin!
suddenly
JOK: 2081
Learn to say, "I didn't have the slightest idea what they were talking about." That might be your experience if you hear とみに, やがて, ひたと, and ひたすら without having read this essay. It investigates those adverbs, as well as sudden movements and motionlessness (what a huge range!), wit and idiocy (another big range!), Dotonbori in Osaka, setbacks, tidiness, indifference, and much more.
bowl of food
JOK: 2083
Do you primarily associate “donburi” with food? This essay initially punctures that misconception, then plunges into the world of topped rice bowls. Find out what’s in a “viper” rice bowl, a “strangers” rice bowl, and a “civilization” rice bowl. Also see what a “mother-daughter“ rice bowl represents. And learn what a “big serving of the head” means if you order a rice bowl.
Nara
JOK: 2085
A hiragana was created from 奈. This kanji helps people talk about hellish situations, but that’s not why a book about Kanagawa is subtitled “Towns That Suck, Towns That People Hate.” The Jetsons apparently influenced 8th-century Nara architecture. There have been at least 17 kanji renderings of the name なら. Find out about all these topics and much more in this image-rich essay.
Japanese pear tree
JOK: 2086
The Japanese pear is tough and spotted, inspiring fun terms that implicitly compare rough-hewn or polka-dotted entities to this fruit. (For example, a word for "avocado" breaks down as "alligator + pear"!) Moreover, 梨 pops up in words for pear-shaped things. See why this occurs even though a Japanese pear is round. Also find out why {search梨園} means something extremely different from "pear garden."
fragrant
JOK: 2089
Find out about a kanji that can represent both a fragrance and a stench. Learn to say, “That flower has a powerful scent,” “The room reeks of lacquer,” “This book has a whiff of anarchism,” “The flowers glow in the morning sun,” “A dog has a sharp sense of smell,” “There's something fishy about how the secretary is acting,” and “In the book she makes no allusion to her profession.”
rainbow
JOK: 2090
Learn how the Japanese speak about the colors of the rainbow, as well as double rainbows and "fogbows." Find out where in Japan you can see rainbows, both real and artificial. And come to understand how rainbows have colored Japanese culture, from music and religion to Rainbow Day celebrations and LGBT parades, not to mention all the organizations named for rainbows.
chopsticks
JOK: 2094
Learn how chopsticks can rest and bathe—and what “pregnant chopsticks” signify. See how 箸 can serve as a stand-in for “eating.” If a human uses one end of chopsticks, find out who eats from the other end. Discover dozens of chopstick taboos, and see which ones remind people of funerals. Find out about the おてもと on chopstick wrappers, and learn why the Chinese dropped 箸.
spread out
JOK: 2095
Learn to talk about literal floods, saying things like "This river sometimes overflows after the snow melts" and "The river flooded a wide area." Also find out about figurative floods (e.g., a flood of colors or a flood of desires), learning how to say "Our everyday language is flooded with Western words." Discover when the Japanese use 氾濫 versus 洪水, another word for "flood."
Kanshudo is your AI Japanese tutor, and your constant companion on the road to mastery of the Japanese language. To get started learning Japanese, just follow the study recommendations on your Dashboard. You can use Quick search (accessible using the icon at the top of every page) to look up any Japanese word, kanji or grammar point, as well as to find anything on Kanshudo quickly. For an overview, take the tour.
×