The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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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.
proceed towards
JOK: 1751
If you're going places physically (as when you head to a destination) or psychologically (as when you follow your heart), you'll need 赴. For instance, it will help you talk about heading to a war zone, going somewhere in person, or even riding into the jaws of death! And if you want to discuss job transfers and being posted overseas or away from your family, this kanji is indispensable.
float
JOK: 1752
See what role 浮 plays in dejection and in happiness so intense that it causes accidents. Find out what "loose teeth" means figuratively. Learn to say 'I feel out of place,' 'The tree stands out against the sky,' and 'He's cheating.' Discover what floated in the "Floating World" of Edo. Inspire memories and ideas by combining body parts with 浮. Also learn about maglev trains in Japan!
skin
JOK: 1757
“A chameleon can change its skin color and blend in with surrounding trees.” “Ayako’s skin is sensitive to chemicals.” “My son’s skin breaks out easily.” “This cloth has a nice texture.” Discover how to say all these things while discovering the etymology of 膚, which seems to contain “tiger” and "stomach.” Find out about an idiom involving “unwounded skin,” and see how people refer to “autumn chill” even in spring.
music
JOK: 1759
This kanji primarily means “musical score,” and because every element in a musical staff is already a symbol, 譜 is a symbol of other symbols! Learn to talk about reading music and to say, “He played piano by ear.” Catch a startling glimpse of traditional musical notation in Japan. Also see why 譜 appears in terms for “genealogy” and “record of a board game,” as well as in biography titles.
dance
JOK: 1761
Traditional Japanese dance may seem tangential to your life, but it has connections to the gods, so don't overlook it! Also, 舞 is a core part of Nihongo, factoring into terms for bustling activity, story settings, being in the limelight, behaving well or badly, treating others to meals, visiting the sick, seasonal greeting cards, and closing up shop, as well as the words for kabuki and butoh.
breadth
JOK: 1764
With the help of 幅, you can say all of the following: "The stock price has dropped slightly," "The team is planning major changes in the coaching staff," or "We should have had a wide range of alternatives." The breadth of 幅 is often figurative, though you can also use it to express "wide belt" or "wide river." This kanji can even team up with another to express narrowness!
atmosphere
JOK: 1769
Did you know that some Japanese feel that polite language can spoil a mood? Learn two ways of referring to a ruined mood, depending on whether or not it's salvageable. Find out how to use 雰囲気 (atmosphere) when saying “You look very intelligent” and “I love the way you look.” Also learn to talk about uncomfortable situations, atmospheric bars, and photos that evoke nostalgia.
third
JOK: 1773
Through this essay you’ll find out when the Japanese use the system of sequencing and ranking that includes 丙, and you’ll see why 丙 is excluded more often than not. With an explanation of the sexagenary system, you’ll come to understand how 丙 relates to the 12 zodiacal kanji. And you’ll discover how 丙 can factor into the name of the fifth day of a month while meaning “third”!
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