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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.
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mend
JOK: 1504
Learn to talk about smoothing over a gaffe, making excuses, and keeping up appearances. Find out how to say, “Show me clothes you think will look good on me,” “He got dressed quickly,” and “I had my mother mend this sweater.” Consider whether the Japanese view of mending has Shinto underpinnings. And see how a mushroom relates to darning and how beans relate to cloth!
pair
JOK: 1513
This photo-studded essay will have you seeing double! You'll learn which items in Japan are countable in pairs. On the flip side, you'll also see which sorts of entities have been deemed "peerless" (that is, not a pair). One expresses that idea with a negated form of 双. You'll encounter words for "twin" and "mutual," as well as sentences such as this: "He is as great a poet as ever lived."
mulberry
JOK: 1518
The Japanese have found uses for every part of the mulberry - the fruit, leaves, wood, bark, and roots. In Japan, mulberries have been so important that some maps mark mulberry fields. Aside from its mulberry connections, 桑 factors into the names of several significant places, including San Francisco and Japan itself! Our kanji also pops up in surprising sayings and a famous bit of wordplay.
dry up
JOK: 1528
By understanding 燥, you can talk about everything from dry skin and dehydration to dried fruit and dryers. You'll be able to say, "We preserve shiitake mushrooms by drying them," and you'll know terms for "instant miso," "sun-dried mackerel," and "powdered milk," as well as "arid land" and "dry season." With 燥 you can even have a good time, as that's a minor meaning!
hate
JOK: 1532
It's important to know if others hate you. It's even more crucial to recognize that someone is using 憎 ironically to say that you're cute or amazing. Find out when the Japanese avoid mentioning hatred and when they're surprisingly direct. See which book titles contain 憎, including one about tsunami victims who simply can't hate the sea. And enjoy a folktale about love gone horribly awry.
bundle
JOK: 1535
With 束, you can create order: Establish binding agreements, promises, and appointments. Pull together unions! Using just one verb, either make a ponytail or govern a nation! If you have keys on a keyring, a cluster of raw noodles, or a bouquet, 束 is a vital kanji. See how bundles of cash have inspired fun idioms. Also learn how a wooden post gave rise to a common term for "short-lived."
laziness
JOK: 1540
Find out how social critics view the fierce work ethic in Japan (some finding it lacking!), and see why the Japanese disdain idleness. Learn to say “His idle lifestyle ruined him,” “He was lazy and irresponsible,” and “Break out of the inertia in your life.” Discover how 惰 and another laziness kanji differ in nuance. See what it means to “devour lazy sleep.” And learn a fun term for a lazy animal.
waterfall
JOK: 1550
Learn about the waterfall in Japan, from its role in religion to the use of 滝 as a simile. With great photos of Japanese waterfalls, as well as enticing tidbits about them, the essay could turn you into a waterfall tourist in Japan. One must-see spot: a hot-springs waterfall powered by an active volcano!
marsh
JOK: 1552
For a kanji that appears in relatively few compounds and that means 'marsh,' 'plentiful,' 'to glisten,' and 'benefit' (a range that makes the head spin), 沢 seems to poke its head up in quite a few places. It's the 489th most used kanji in newspapers. That's puzzling, but this essay will reveal the reason. It will also teach you the names of several types of dishes, help you talk about luxury, and put the luster back in your life (if it's missing).
entrust
JOK: 1555
When we trust another (whether a babysitter or a bank) with what we care about most, 託 plays a key role. By using this kanji, we can consign goods and establish trust funds. This character also leads us into a world of bribery and conspiracy! Read about 託 to find out why a bank chose Peter Rabbit, a vegetable thief, as its mascot!
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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.