The Joy o' Kanji Essays

This page provides a synopsis of all 533 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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plum tree
JOK: 1689
See how Japanese apricots (ume) relate to the rainy season, the new year, haiku, Osaka, a god sleeping in poisonous ume pits, shochu, senbei, syphilis, pine and bamboo, and childbirth. See how ume blossoms have inspired paintings, sweets, and color terms. Also read about ume-related pickles, a manly candy, flying ume, and shrines with connections to ume.
clap
JOK: 1695
Your heart will beat faster as you find out how to keep time in Japanese, how to be offbeat, how to clap at a shrine, and how the word for this differs from the term for ordinary clapping. Learn to say, "The moment I stood up, I hit my head." Find out why people compare julienned veggies to certain pieces of wood, and see all the ways in which the Japanese use that wood.
ship
JOK: 1698
Understand which kanji to choose when communicating about ships versus smaller boats. Discover terms for goods imported by sea, and find out how the use of airplanes changed the use of those words. Also learn to say, “We imported books by sea” and “Not a few people think that any foreign-made articles are superior to those made in this country.”
vague
JOK: 1700
One-third of Earth's surface is desert, and 1,900 square meters of the planet turn to desert every second. Learn about the desert that may one day be your home! Also find out how, contrary to what one would expect, rainy Japan has connections to deserts. It has two ties to the massive Gobi Desert, one historical, the other environmental. And Japan has little-known deserts of its own!
bowl
JOK: 1705
Is a hibachi really what you think it is? If begging is illegal, why can priests carry begging bowls? Find out! See how skulls and an Iwo Jima mountain are figurative pots or bowls. Learn to talk about bumping into someone. And discover ways to say, "He formed the clay into a bowl," "The flowerpot crashed to the sidewalk and broke," and "This antique hibachi isn't actually used these days."
hair
JOK: 1706
Learn about historic Japanese hairstyles, including those resembling peaches or ginkgo leaves and one inspired by prostitutes, as well as a boxy pillow women used so as not to muss their hair. See what unexpected roles Edo-era barbershops played. Find out why you should grab the goddess's bangs, where to pray for your hair, and what Japanese men said about Marilyn Monroe.
fell (an enemy)
JOK: 1707
See how trees can be difficult! Find out why marketers emphasize that products have been made from wood felled in thinning the forest, and discover the thinking behind thinning forests at all. Then explore figurative uses of 伐 in terms about savage behavior, punitive expeditions to subjugate rebels, and the conquest of other countries. Also learn about a Japanese Robin Hood!
paddy ridge
JOK: 1713
Find out how the Japanese use a ridge between rice fields metaphorically to represent other objects. Learn to say all of the following: “Today we plan to stay at the riverside hotel,” “Many flowers are blooming on the riverbank,” “The English capital, London, is on the Thames,” “The old church by the lake is very beautiful,” and “He gave us a tour around the lake.”
sell
JOK: 1715
Find out the staggering range of items that Japanese vending machines sell (including eggs!), as well as several terms for such machines. Learn to say that a type of car is on the market or will soon be (which requires a different word!), retailing for a certain amount, though a sales promotion will bring a discount. Scads of photos reinforce the most important 販 terms.
conveyor
JOK: 1716
Learn to talk about transporting everything from people who need medical care to felled trees. See how martial arts relate to emergency services. And find out how to say, “We’ll carry out furniture and household appliances later,” “A train can transport huge amounts of cargo,” “The man is loading the moving truck,” and “Software portability gives many companies an advantage.”
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