The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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navy blue
JOK: 1279
Discover how dark blue connects to the police and navy. Find out why a term for “dyer” includes 紺, what it means for dyers to “wear white,” and where Dyers Alley is. Learn about great kinds of blue kasuri, find out how horned blue demons differ from other types, see what you get when eggplant mixes with dark blue, and learn the origins of “Prussian blue” and “ultramarine.”
JOK: 1280
As you can see from terms such as 大和魂 (the Japanese spirit), 言霊 (the soul of language), and 士魂商才 (having a samurai's spirit and a merchant's business sense), matters of the soul and spirit are important in Japan. Learn to talk about putting your heart and soul into something, plus kanji as the soul of Japan. Also find out how to welcome back dead spirits on o-Bon.
JOK: 1281
Japan wouldn't be what it is if people hadn't labored to cultivate the land, making it suitable for agriculture and human habitation. Learn how the Japanese use 墾 to represent that major effort, and find out how to combine 墾 with just a few common kanji so you can talk about lands both tamed and wild. Find out how one term can mean both "cultivated land" and its opposite.
JOK: 1284
With 唆 you can make trouble and influence people. The influence may be as mild as offering a suggestion, arousing a sense of adventure, or whetting someone’s appetite. But the kanji also relates to all of the following acts: inciting one’s kids to be terrorists, persuading people to commit crimes, abetting a prison escape, and tempting someone sexually.
JOK: 1288
From the head of the haiku society to Prime Minister Abe, 宰 enables you to talk about the person in charge. By reading about 宰 in this essay, you'll also learn about an ancient, powerful organization that shaped Japanese culture, a great man who ran Japan after the war, and a fascinating writer whose personal life was such a mess that it'll make you feel good about yours!
JOK: 1289
The Japanese excel at farming. Find out what they're up to with organic and pesticide-free cultivation, particularly since 2011, when the Tohoku disasters made people anxious about food safety. See where the Japanese have experimented with growing olives. Learn how to coax secrets out of bonsai. And read plot summaries from the TV show "Weeds” about growing marijuana!
to color
JOK: 1290
Knowing 彩, you can discuss color in artwork, saying things like “Using watercolors, he made strokes with an almost vertical brush.” Aside from art contexts, 彩 helps you talk about brilliance and vividness, saying, for instance, “The newcomer’s work is remarkably brilliant,” “He seems really depressed and lifeless today,” and “He has stood out since his school days.“
JOK: 1307
Learn words for everything from segmented condiment dishes to ice cube trays. Find out how to count empty and full plates differently and to ask servers for share plates. See how corporations and nursery schools can be saucers, hear about ghostly torment associated with dishes, and learn where we keep dishes in the body. Also discover the role 皿 plays in 18 Joyo kanji.
JOK: 1308
This kanji gets around! It appears in terms for "door frame" and "windowsill," as well as words such as "pier" and "wharf." This character also has connections to bridges, ladders, roof tiles, fabrics, sumo stadiums, kabuki theaters, rice containers, and more! Reading about 桟 takes you to a touristy pier in Yokohama that resembles a ferry, as well as a place called Elephant's Trunk!
JOK: 1310
Find out how paper umbrellas are made and why they're rare. Discover why one type of Western umbrella (which is named after a blind animal!) was banned in the Osaka area. Also see why one kind of umbrella has 蛇 (snake) in its name. Learn to say "overprotected," "subsidiary," and "mushroom cap" with 傘, and read about the role of umbrellas in kabuki dances and in young love.
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