The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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cover
JOK: 2104
This kanji can pertain to visual barriers (e.g., curtains or partitions) but more often relates to cover-ups. Read crazy conspiracy theories about Japanese nukes and a downed flight. Learn to say, “That company hid the fraud,” “hidden responsibility for the war,” and “The prime minister tried to cover up the scandal, but that just made it worse when the newspapers discovered the truth.”
Chinese artifact
JOK: 2106
See how jade disks connect with a term for “perfect,” and read the fascinating history of a hunk of ore that inspired the word. Learn to avoid a kanji error that native speakers commonly make when they write about perfection! Find out how to talk about perfection and perfectionism, as well as about people who excel at something equally and who therefore tend to become rivals.
contempt
JOK: 2107
After reading this essay, you'll know how to do all of this: talk about looking down on others, express contempt, accuse men of sexist thinking, and say that you despise someone. You'll also understand why a famous thinker thought Japan should bid good riddance to the rest of Asia, why the nobles viewed samurai as savages, and how a word for "scorn" relates to a carpentry technique.
foot of a mountain
JOK: 2108
If a mountain's essence is its awe-inspiring height, its base shouldn't be important. Nevertheless, the foot of a mountain plays a role in several book and essay titles, in product marketing, and notably in the hunt for good soba. Learn about mountains named after hats, possibly after volcanoes, and even after bathrooms! Also find out about the famous parrot singing at the base of Mount Fuji!
bee
JOK: 2109
Find out why some Japanese eat bee larvae and "royal jelly," what traditional Japanese beekeeping involves, how Japanese and Western honeybees differ, and where bees thrive in Japan. Learn to count bees and to say that they're buzzing or that a swarm has attacked! Read about "buzzing" in the ears and bee uprisings, and see why a figurative queen bee seems sexy and marketable in Japan.
appearance
JOK: 2110
Find out how 顔 and 貌 differ when they represent "face." See what the Japanese mean when they compare someone to a sculpture. Discover the controversy surrounding the "last samurai," and read about a renowned photographer, as well as a rebellious pretty boy. Also learn to say, "I was captivated by her beauty," and to talk about drastic changes in appearance.
cheek
JOK: 2111
Learn how to talk about delicious food by mentioning cheeks that fall! See what full and hollow cheeks represent in Japan and how cheeks relate to smiling. Find out why people refer to cheekbones in connection with a verb that typically means "to stab." See why the Japanese once talked about fox pups' cheeks, and discover the figurative meaning of covering one's head with a cloth.
armpit
JOK: 2112
Using 脇, we can discuss carrying a book under one’s arm, taking one’s eyes off the road while driving, making a beeline for food at a party, and being singlemindedly absorbed in pottery. The meaning “secondary” opens our eyes to sauces, companies, and weapons that serve as “supporting actors,” as well as buildings that play second fiddle to more important structures.
sudden
JOK: 2113
Learn to talk about the sudden rise of the Nazis and the outbreak of war. Find out how to say, “World War II broke out in 1939” and “A series of events caused the war to break out.” Also see how the Japanese refer to handlebar mustaches and what formed one prominent manga artist. And learn how the Japanese speak of penile erections and the lack thereof!
pillow
JOK: 2115
This wide-ranging essay examines literature over millennia, from ancient China to "The Pillow Book" to Basho and Soseki, plus the connections between pillows, travel, and poetry. The essay covers several types of pillows (e.g., those atop boxes, those you hug, and manly pillows), pillows as cures, pillow-flipping ghosts, figurative pillows (e.g., railroad ties!), a confection, and more.
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