The Joy o' Kanji Essays

This page provides a synopsis of all 536 kanji that have so far been featured by Joy o' Kanji. Each section provides the ability to purchase and download a kanji essay (), study flashcards for the essay content (), play entertaining study games (), or view the kanji's details on Kanshudo ().
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brown
JOK: 1089
Find out why the Japanese use 褐 for the color of coffee and why they once dyed armor and weapons indigo for good luck. Learn to say, “She got her dark skin and brown eyes from her father.” See how “chocolate world history” differs from “brown world history.” Find out about “brown fat” and “the brown plague.” And discover the shocking ancestry of a beloved French author.
and another
JOK: 1091
Do you know how to say in Japanese, "The lecture was interesting as well as meaningful," "It was not only quiet but also eerie," and "He speaks English and writes it, too"? How about "She is cheerful, friendly, kind, and moreover considerate" and "Don't respond to your teacher's kindness with indifference"? After reading this essay, you'll know all this and much more!
sweet
JOK: 1093
Even though 甘い (あまい) seems ultra-simple, it has six definitions! Some are straightforward (e.g., sweet tastes and smells). Others are unexpected, as when "sweet" words deceive or spoil others. You'll learn the term for "sweet tooth" and for its opposite, a word that has nothing to do with food! You'll also find out about 甘 as a radical in eight Joyo kanji.
can
JOK: 1095
The yomi most often used for 缶 is KAN. How perfect is that for a kanji that means 'can'?! That isn't entirely a rhetorical question. Really, why is the yomi such a perfect match for the English word? This seemingly straightforward question has anything but a straightforward answer. Find out about this, as well as ways to speak about canned food, canned beverages, and "canned" people (which is not to say that they've been fired or that they're trite!). Learn about 缶 as a radical, too!
fall into
JOK: 1098
Collapsed land. The fall of a city in wartime. Defective cars. Holes in theories. Framing and trapping people. Becoming psychologically or economically depressed. With 陥 you can talk about all these things, as well as saying, “That eventually put him in a very awkward position,” “The news plunged people into distress,” and “Small businesses are feeling the squeeze of inflation.”
intuition
JOK: 1100
Discover how 勘 bridges the brain’s hemispheres! This kanji represents both the sixth sense (which guides perceptions and hunches) and the ability to consider ideas and estimate profit. Learn to say, “Check, please,” “Put it on one bill,” and “Let’s split the bill,” as well as “I would do anything but that,” “Give me a break,” and “That smartphone looks nice, but he can’t afford it.”
endure
JOK: 1104
Explore two interrelated on-yomi and four stunningly similar kun-yomi for 堪. These readings enable you to say, “I can’t take this anymore,” “Let’s hang in there till help comes,” “The cottage will not withstand strong winds,” “I’m dying to see her,” and much more. Find out how the rhetorical question “How can I put up with it if I lose?!” really conveys the bold statement “I will never lose.”
daring
JOK: 1106
Find out how to talk about taking decisive steps, having courage, doing things deliberately, and taking action just for now. See how once-disgraced entrepreneur Takafumi Horie has connections to our star kanji. And learn to say, “Brave as he was, he recoiled at the sight,” “He was brave enough to go there alone,” and “Boldness sometimes has dangerous consequences.”
goodwill
JOK: 1108
Learn to read the fine print. This essay teaches you to talk about articles of incorporation, clauses in contracts, and boilerplate agreements. The kanji also relates to money that countries lend each other. Find out how to say, “The IMF ruled out any new loans to that country.” Discover which Asian country receives the most aid from Japan—and which one Japan refuses to help.
lenient
JOK: 1110
Old copper coins with square holes. The fossilized hipbone of an elephant. Having a generous, benevolent, and magnanimous disposition. Letting your hair down and making yourself at home. Feeling uncomfortable with strangers. Being tolerant of diversity and open to various religions. Begging for forgiveness. Going easy on people.... All of these concepts connect to 寛. Find out how!
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