The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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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.
inflation
JOK: 1660
This kanji helps us talk about everything from boiling water to soaring stock prices. Learn to use a term for “boiling point” to say, “He gets angry easily.” Also find out how to say, “This documentary is controversial,” “Prices have jumped,” “The rise in prices is putting pressure on our family budget,” “Public opinion was heated,” and “We are analyzing factors in fluctuating crude oil prices.”
cave
JOK: 1661
Find out how the structure of 洞 reflects the process of forming a cave. Learn to talk about limestone caves, stalactites, and stalagmites. See how the Japanese have used caves for everything from shelter to religion. Discover how people use 洞 to discuss insightfulness and to describe a particular kind of loss. Enjoy several photos of Japanese caves, as well as kanji signs for those caves.
ridge
JOK: 1663
After reading about this famous kokuji, you'll know how to say that you're "over the hump" of a crisis and that a trend has peaked. You'll also understand the significance of mountain passes in Japan, including the military importance they had in the past, the dangers they once posed to travelers, the way they've inspired woodblock artists, and the abundance of hot springs at passes.
pork
JOK: 1670
Sorry, vegetarians! This essay will be hard to stomach, as the bulk of 豚 terms involve pork. The good news is that 豚 also appears in fanciful sayings, harsh insults, and terms for other animals, including blowfish (“river pigs”), dolphins (“sea pigs”), and aardvarks (“earth pigs”). The bad news is that some of those animals also end up on people’s plates!
尿
urine
JOK: 1675
Find out why a novel and a memoir contain 尿 in their titles. Discover how Edo-era people repurposed excrement for a profit. Learn to say that you want to urinate, and find out how to discuss problems such as frequent urination. Also see why the Japanese are extra-aware of uric acid levels and albumin and why the Japanese word for "albumin" contains characters for "egg white."
sticky
JOK: 1679
Knowing this kanji enables us to talk about sticky substances (from natto and rice to Post-It notes) and about a stick-to-it attitude in life, in sports, and in business. Learn to say, "You hung in there very well, but I won." Find out which term for "tenacious" is positive (i.e., persevering) and which is negative (i.e., persistent). Also learn terms related to clay, adhesion, viscosity, and more.
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