The Joy o' Kanji Essays

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JOK: 1609
Discover an efficient way to convey the size of living spaces and land. Find out what these statements mean: “This house has 40 tsubo of floor space” or “The family owned a 60,000-tsubo plot of land.” Learn to say, “Land in this area is valued at 1,138,000 yen per tsubo” and “I asked what the land price was per tsubo.” Also find out about tucked-away gardens in Kyoto courtyards.
JOK: 1614
Find out why -亭 is suffixed to the names of many restaurants, buildings, and some artistic people. Learn to read scads of gorgeous signs, whether for eateries or shops. Discover how a ryotei is a restaurant far too expensive for many of us to try, and yet it can be hard to determine which restaurants qualify as such. And learn about a term for "husband," one that appears in colorful idioms.
JOK: 1616
Find out why some people call Japan にっぽん, how the mikado kept himself busy centuries ago when he had no power, and how to address the emperor properly if you ever meet! The essay also examines how the old Empire of Japan has influenced the country today, from traces of imperial words in the contemporary language to Japanese feelings about what happened in the past.
parcel post
JOK: 1618
To distribute mail across mountainous islands over 1,500 years, Japan has used everything from special bells and “flying legs” to railway ferries and post towns on a network of highways. Learn about all this, plus a company that takes pride in the four months during which its drivers had no collisions. Also see what the mythical creature inside the old form of 逓 could do.
JOK: 1620
Embankments save lives and could even be why we have government! But they're so well integrated into landscapes that you could walk on an embankment and not know it. See why Japan has built these structures for millennia. (A folktale particularly brings the topic to life.) Also find out about embankment stew, tsutsumi dolls, 'super embankments,' and a "battleship seawall."
JOK: 1624
Woodwind instruments have played a prominent role in Europe (e.g., the Pied Piper), but what about Asia? Find out about bamboo flutes in Shinto music, Noh theater, gagaku (old court music), hunting, and old-time candy peddling. Read about a bamboo instrument that resembles a phoenix and may express a ray of heavenly light! Also learn about a whistle that you'll hear only in Japan.
JOK: 1625
Do you know what it means to be pinched by a fox?! And do you know the Japanese for "bar snack" (which is also the term for "knob, handle")? How would you talk about picking strawberries? Learning about 摘 will give you access to this vocabulary. With 摘, you can also zero in on the fundamental aspects of something - or on people's errors! With 摘, 'picking' often turns into 'nitpicking'!
JOK: 1626
With 滴 you can talk about dewdrops and eyedrops, fogged and rain-spattered windows, rain dripping off roofs, sweaty foreheads, IV drips, waterproof items, dripping-wet towels, meadows overflowing with freshness, drops of ink, and teardrop-shaped jewelry. Learn to say, "I felt a drop of rain." Also discover how three drops of water mysteriously fall from a shrine roof every day.
JOK: 1627
Have you longed to see certain politicians get the ax? This kanji enables that to happen! The Japanese mainly associate 迭 with political shakeups (so you'll learn to say, "Minister Tanaka's 'resignation' was actually a dismissal"), but the essay also includes sentences about nonpolitical firings. You'll find 迭 in Amazon Japan synopses of episodes of several TV shows (e.g., House of Cards).
JOK: 1630
See how Shigeru Mizuki discussed retreating troops in his manga about the war. Learn the Japanese for retracting words and reversing decisions. Find out what to write when leaving online arguments in Japanese and how to say, “We decided to withdraw from the restaurant business,” “She advocated equal rights for women,” and “The posters were immediately removed from the wall.”
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