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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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Big Dipper
JOK: 1633
The dipper kanji helps you hold your liquor! That is, its core meaning is "dipper," a device to scoop saké. (It means "dipper" in the constellation sense, too!) Using 斗, we can also measure large quantities of that saké. By studying 斗, we find out about noshi. And that's not all! The 斗 shape is a ryakuji (a simplified form of more complex kanji), as well as a radical.
cross
JOK: 1636
If you want to talk about crossing bridges, emigrating, people ranging in age from 18 to 25, possessing an heirloom for generations, a room that looks out onto the ocean, handing someone paper, extraditing criminals, advancing wages, or bouncing a check, you'll need the indispensable 渡! Find out about all these structures, as well as a deadly form of transit that some Japanese once used!
angry
JOK: 1639
Through 怒 one can learn about the transformative power of anger - namely, what it does to the body. (Nothing attractive.) Find out, too, about ways of flying into a rage and of shouting (with the help of a bird!). If rage turns you on, there's also information about making people angry. Finally, explore the differences between おこる and いかる, the two yomi of the verb 怒る. Both mean "to get angry," but beyond that, they diverge in unexpected ways.
bean
JOK: 1640
From edamame to natto to tofu, Japan abounds in bean dishes. Learn about the most popular beans in Japan (unexpectedly named 小豆 and 大豆!), one of which is even popular with foxes! Find out which piece of furniture 豆 used to represent, as well as alternate meanings of 豆. Also discover its role as a radical in kanji such as 豊 (790: plentiful). Finally, learn a Japanese insult that involves tofu!
arrive
JOK: 1641
This kanji takes things to extremes. In sentences with 到, people attain goals, writers complete long novels, and hikers reach mountaintops. You'll hear that marriage proposals and fan letters arrived in a flood. You'll find out about people whose research is beyond reproach. You'll also learn 3 adverbs meaning "at last" and will get a grip (at last!) on how they differ.
fall over
JOK: 1643
This kanji is full of instability. If you fall to the floor, fall ill, fall to a better team, or have your government's cabinet fall, this is the kanji to use. You can also use it if you fell a boxing opponent, wrestle an attacker to the ground, or simply collapse a car seat. When you turn anything on its head, from a Spanish exclamation point (¡) to a change in the word order of a sentence, this kanji can again help you discuss that state of affairs.
pottery
JOK: 1650
While enjoying gorgeous photos of pottery that only Japanese clay and firing techniques can produce, you'll gain a sense of what pottery means to the Japanese, from its use in daily life to its Zen connections. You'll also learn how to say not only "pottery" and "potter" in Japanese but also "He made me who I am today" and "I'm drunk on music."
pagoda
JOK: 1651
This gorgeous photo essay explains the origins of the pagoda; presents historic pagodas in Japan; tells you how to talk about pagodas with 2, 3, or 5 tiers; and explains the "cosmology" of stone pagodas. From the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the literal and figurative Tower of Babel, you'll find out about towers, also discovering what it means to call someone a control tower.
load
JOK: 1652
Knowing 搭, you can board Japanese planes confidently. You'll be able to ask what time boarding begins and where. You'll know how to say, "I was told to check in 2 hours before my flight." When you hear "Welcome aboard" in Japanese, you'll understand. Outside of airline contexts, you can use 搭 to say that your PC comes with Android installed and that your mobile phone has a camera.
rice plant
JOK: 1656
This kanji has quite a split personality. Growing rice (稲) is a deeply down-to-earth pursuit. But 稲 is also linked to fanciful notions that lightning impregnates rice and that tofu-loving foxes are messengers for the god Inari (稲荷). He is reputed to help with crops, health, sex, and money, so Inari shrines abound, steeped in fox statues and other symbols—all a far cry from farmers’ earthy concerns.
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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.