The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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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!
dark
JOK: 2114
With 昧 you can describe wording or stances as vague and can call people stupid and ignorant. But the real fun comes in with a term that people use to discuss immersions, as in, “I’m spending my life indulging in fantasies, writing, and naps” or “He spent his days just reading books.” This term can also pull you over to the dark side: “He lived a short life as a result of the evil acts he committed.”
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.
noodles
JOK: 2118
Japan has oodles of noodles! Aside from udon, soba, and ramen, there’s chilled tsukemen, stringy somen, slender sanuki udon, horse chestnut flour noodles (which inspired a figurative term), and noodles named for Go stones. Read about ethnic separation of noodles, as well as manga and films centered on noodles. And see why the names of some non-noodle foods include 麺.
melt
JOK: 2119
Find out how far back the Japanese craved metal and see how acquiring it changed society, enabling people to have weapons, tools, coins, bells, sewn clothes, and even sacred mirrors. Learn to talk about metal experts, from blacksmiths and swordsmiths to metallurgists and those who separate metal from ore. Also discover why there are wavy patterns on Japanese sword blades.
increasingly
JOK: 2120
Discover the shocking roots of the language and people of Japan (i.e., Yayoi versus Jomon). Find out about Buddhist figures and terms that have eluded you. And learn to say, “They hooted at his suggestion,” “That makes you even more attractive,” “That’s nothing more than a temporary remedy,” and “The origins of (certain) kanji will make your hair stand on end with fear.”
illustrate
JOK: 2122
Learn to compare life to climbing a mountain, to a stage, and to a voyage, while likening death to sleep. Discover the Japanese metaphor for being unable to use one’s talents in a new environment. Find out how to use “torii,” “bow and arrow,” and “bread” to stand for larger entities, along with “mountain” and “temple” in certain regions. Also see what alchemy and lemons represent in Japan.
gush
JOK: 2124
With 湧, you can talk about hot springs and cool pools. You will discover a famous group of springs at the foot of Fuji and will see how marketers associate brands and products with words for "springs." You'll also encounter a wealth of figurative expressions about things that emerge (e.g., a flood of ideas) and that come out of nowhere, whether storm clouds or enemy soldiers.
fertile
JOK: 2127
Learn to talk about fertile land, as well as a “fertile field” of thought. Learn to say, “Rich soil yields abundant crops” and “Where there used to be a fertile plain, there is nothing but a wasteland now.” Also find out about iodine—the terms for it, the human need for it, and the special Japanese relationship to this trace mineral. Finally, discover a psychoactive plant once used in magic brews!
kidnap
JOK: 2128
Find out all about the bizarre "abduction issue" in Japan, a mystery that has persisted for decades. Delve into questions about the origins of ramen and various ways of representing that word. Discover a manga character inspired by noodles! Learn to use 拉 to indicate that you've been crushed by misfortune or weighed down by worries. And see how such random meanings all connect to 拉.
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