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JOY O' KANJI

The Joy o' Kanji Essays

Welcome to Joy o’ Kanji, which will enable you to discover the joy of kanji! Below you’ll find introductions to detailed essays covering every aspect of each Jōyō kanji. Through loads of sample sentences and images containing the character in question, the essays give you the real-world experience you need so you can master kanji. You can download the essays in PDF form. After reading them, you can play games and use flashcards to work with the vocabulary and sentences from the essay.
These essays come from our partner, Joy o' Kanji.
More info about Joy o' Kanji
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illusion
JOK: 1226
This kanji enables us to talk about what isn’t really there: illusory countries on old maps, phantom limbs, an alcoholic’s hallucinations, sorcery, and mythical creatures. Learn about phantom rice and phantom railroad lines, and see what “pursuing phantoms” really means. Find out about magic mushrooms in Japan, as well as mushroom statues created long ago and very far from Japan.
mystery
JOK: 1227
Find out about the shape that figures prominently in the name of a green tea and the word for "brown rice." It's also the "blackness" radical. What a colorful character! Or should I say "What a mysterious character"? It primarily means "mysterious," and it unexpectedly lends that meaning to such common words as 玄関 (げんかん: entranceway).
boast
JOK: 1233
Learn about the positive kind of pride that even dogs (and flowers!) can feel, and see what Japan is proud to show the world. Discover five ways of saying "to take pride in." Also learn to say "I'm proud of you" and "He proudly made an announcement." Read about terms for "ostentation" and "exaggeration," finding out how one of them relates to political propaganda.
hand drum
JOK: 1234
Learn about a wide range of Japanese drums, including the small, ropy type played on the shoulder. See what "taiko" means in Japan versus abroad, and learn how ensemble drumming was created quite recently. Also discover traditional drumming contexts, from the battlefield to the shrine to the theater. Find out which "drums" you can consume and where drums lie in the human body!
give
JOK: 1237
This kanji has no popular meaning! Nevertheless, 呉 pops up in a word about rivalry, the name of a famous theater, the name of a significant city, terms for stores selling kimono fabric, and more. Learn about 呉音, a word on page 1 of every essay. See how the ancient Chinese Kingdom of Wu still influences modern Japan. And find out just how 呉 became connected with くれる (to give).
enlightenment
JOK: 1239
Do you know how to talk about preparing for the worst outcome or selling items at a loss? Can you translate the following: "At last he realized that he was mistaken," "I noticed some kind of glint in her eyes," "They were ready to run the risk of being shot by the enemy," and "How can one become enlightened?" Find out about all this and much more, including baseball players' wisdom.
stream
JOK: 1244
This essay immerses you in Edo (the old name for Tokyo) and its cultural, linguistic, and botanical legacies. Read about Edo-style sushi (which you likely love!), see what characterizes a true Edoite/Tokyoite, and find out what "Little Edo" and "Big Edo" mean now. Learn to read 江 in several names, some famous. Also meet the alligators and dolphins associated with the Yangtze River!
again
JOK: 1248
See how the four Joyo yomi of 更 will take you in very different directions. With ふ•ける and ふ•かす, you can stay up late. With さら, you can talk about what's new. By adding hiragana to さら, you produce adverbs, such as one for 'furthermore.' Finally, コウ means 'change' in terms for 'renewal,' 'revision,' and 'rehabilitation.' As a bonus, learn what it means to change clothes in Japan!
constancy
JOK: 1251
Find out what's "fixed" about a star - and why a planet conversely seems confused! Then come back to Earth to focus on steady livelihoods, annual events, constant wars, and permanent peace. See how "constant river sand" traveled from India through China into Buddhism and even further from there. And learn how a poisoning scandal from 1955 could help Fukushima victims.
flood
JOK: 1252
Learn how floods pose a serious threat in ultra-rainy Japan, which now has the world's largest underground flood-prevention facility. Find out how to talk about real and figurative floods. Hear Okinawan "flood myths," and see what the Japanese say about Noah's flood. Examine 洪 in the names of a huge bell, famous ship, well-known doctor, star athlete, and two countries.
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Change component list
By default the component builder shows the most common components (themselves joyo kanji, or used in at least 3 other joyo kanji). Select an alternative set of components below.



Full details of all components and their English names can be found here.
Help with the component builder
For detailed instructions, see the Component builder how to guide.
To find any kanji, first try to identify the components it is made up of.
For any components you recognize, if you know the English meaning or name, start typing it in the text area. Full details of all components and their English names can be found here.
Alternatively, count the strokes of the component, and scan the list to find it visually.
Example
To find the kanji :
  • Notice that it is made of several components: 氵 艹 口 夫.
  • 氵 艹 口 all have three strokes, so you could look in the list in the 3 stroke section. 夫 has four strokes.
  • Alternatively, you could start typing 'water' (氵), 'grass' (艹), 'mouth' (口) or 'husband' (夫) in the search area, and the components will be highlighted in yellow.
  • Keep adding components until you can see your kanji in the list of matches that appears near the top.