The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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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.
abuse
JOK: 2092
You can speak polite Japanese, but to be fluent, one should also master verbal abuse! Learn to say, “He often calls her names,” “The company president abused me verbally,” “I can't forgive my mom's abuse,” “He instantly abuses somebody if he’s dissatisfied with something,” “I had never received a letter filled with so much abuse,” and “The audience jeered at the player's error.”
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."
pan-
JOK: 2096
Read about pantheism, nationalistic Japanese pan-Asianists, and the way 汎 connects to water. Learn how to say, “Pan-Islamism arose in reaction to Western European imperialism” and “Touchscreens became more versatile,” as well as this (re. the pan-African symbol): “The tricolor flag consists of red for the blood that has flowed, black for the skin, and green for the land.”
slope
JOK: 2097
Enter the city of pleasure! This essay covers everything about Osaka, including its name, history, cuisine (e.g., Kansai sushi), castle, and entertainment industry, as well as the Osakan's colorful personality, conversational style, accent, and dialect. Learn about the "Osaka Metropolis Plan" that terrified some people, and find out about often-used terms such as "Keihan" and "Hanshin.'
spot
JOK: 2098
This essay will make you dotty about all things spotted! With 斑 we can describe everything from polka-dotted species (including humans, with their birthmarks and freckles!) to rocks (e.g., those that the Japanese use in barbecues). The same character means "unevenness," and the essay shows how these disparate meanings connect. Great photos and fun quizzes!
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