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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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tombstone
JOK: 1731
Japan abounds in stone monuments of all types. They commemorate individual lives, wars, peace, loyal service, and "aha!" moments that came to poets. By considering the spectrum of stone markers in Japan, we can understand what people have cared about and have sought to preserve. Don't miss this photo-rich essay, which looks at Japan from a very different angle.
quit
JOK: 1732
This kanji can be tough to remember, so the essay presents mnemonics for two yomi and the main meaning of 罷. Learn about the history of strikes in Japan and see how young people now perceive them. Find out how to say that a politician got the sack, British coalminers went on strike, and someone got away with something. Also learn to speculate about worst-case scenarios.
counter for animals
JOK: 1736
See why a horse’s rear appears on the front of this essay, particularly when a horse isn’t small. Find out how lone wolves differ from shut-ins, and see why one Japanese author critiqued Japan as a “lone wolf country.” Learn to say “Her English is as good as the teacher’s” and “He keeps some mice for research purposes.” Discover what it takes to be a manly man in Japan!
ooze
JOK: 1737
Find out what urination and secretion have in common in Japanese, read about the endocrine and exocrine systems, learn which substances we secrete rather than excrete, and see why urology and dermatology are closely associated in Japan. Learn to say, "An excessive lifestyle throws hormones out of balance." Also see which animal secretions you can buy and why you might want them!
seedling
JOK: 1740
Find out about the literal side of 苗 (e.g., all that happens before rice seedlings go into paddies) and the figurative aspects of 苗 (e.g., when the "seedlings" of a culture bear delicious fruits). See how seedlings played key roles in "The Mutiny on the Bounty" and in one Nobel Peace Prize winner's work. Also discover why 苗 can mean "Hmong" and how it relates to smallpox.
cat
JOK: 1742
The cat is omnipresent in Japan, appearing in nearly every house in olden times and in cat cafes today. Having inspired scads of charming expressions, as well as Hello Kitty and beckoning porcelain figurines, cats have also stimulated the imaginations of creative types from Kuniyoshi to Soseki and Haruki Murakami. Find out why Japanese people have such deep affection for cats.
seashore
JOK: 1743
Why did the Japanese once cling to poles in the sea in hopes of curing disease? Where can you ride camels in Japan or nest in a hole on a hot beach in order to heal? Find out about all this, plus beach rituals, beach-inspired literature, and a sandbar-inspired pattern that has influenced designs of everything from tables to cakes. Also enjoy photos of the prettiest beaches in Japan.
VIP
JOK: 1744
Learn to talk about guests, whether they're party guests enjoying refreshments, foreign guests in Kyoto ryokans, guest speakers, or a queen who is guest of honor at a ceremony. Also learn words related to VIPS (e.g., imperial family members or CEOs). See pictures of posh state guest houses where U.S. presidents have stayed. And discover two connections between pigs and guests!
aid
JOK: 1748
What binds us together - laws or love? Do we merely follow mandates to pay taxes and alimony, or do we help each other out of concern? The essay raises such questions by focusing on financial obligations toward others. These issues became urgent, says one book, after the disasters of March 11, 2011, made people realize that they had become cold and needed to renew their bonds.
frightening
JOK: 1749
Learn to talk about cowards, risks, and the politics of fear, as well as horror films and terrifyingly complex kanji! See how both the meanings and yomi of 怖 can provoke anxiety. Understand how 怖 and its near twin 恐 relate to each other. See what it means figuratively to be bitten by a snake and thus to fear a rotten rope. And find out about fears and phobias specific to the Japanese.
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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.