The Joy o' Kanji Essays

This page provides a synopsis of all 528 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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seashore
JOK: 1743
Why did the Japanese once cling to poles in the sea in hopes of curing disease? Where can you ride camels in Japan or nest in a hole on a hot beach in order to heal? Find out about all this, plus beach rituals, beach-inspired literature, and a sandbar-inspired pattern that has influenced designs of everything from tables to cakes. Also enjoy photos of the prettiest beaches in Japan.
VIP
JOK: 1744
Learn to talk about guests, whether they're party guests enjoying refreshments, foreign guests in Kyoto ryokans, guest speakers, or a queen who is guest of honor at a ceremony. Also learn words related to VIPS (e.g., imperial family members or CEOs). See pictures of posh state guest houses where U.S. presidents have stayed. And discover two connections between pigs and guests!
cleverness
JOK: 1746
This kanji helps describe a range of people: those who act quickly (e.g., to put out fires), those with nimble bodies or minds, and those who detect sights, sounds, and even opportunities that others miss. As sensitivity easily slips into oversensitivity, 敏 is also for Nervous Nellies. A fun aside: Find out how an old anatomy book has inspired a term for “detailed analysis.”
flower pot
JOK: 1747
Find out about peering through alcohol bottles to understand history! See why people might call a bottle rectangular even if the base is round! Explore Ramune bottle design, a mushroom dish cooked in a teapot, a plant with leaves resembling water pitchers, and a genie who lives in a bottle in a classic anime. Learn to say, "The vase broke into fragments" and "The wine is bottled at this factory.”
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.
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