The Joy o' Kanji Essays

This page provides a synopsis of all 531 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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foot of a mountain
JOK: 2039
Find out how 裾 went from meaning “hem” to "foot of a mountain.” See how 裾 relates to coral reefs, a hairstyle, and two sumo moves. Discover terms for parts of kimonos and other garments. Learn to say, "Karen's skirt is riding up," "He tucked in his shirt," "Let’s go to the foot of Fuji," and "I think the scope of volunteer activities should expand." Also find out what the “NTR” genre is.
weird
JOK: 2040
The Japanese constantly say 凄い! (すごい!: Amazing!), so it’s amazing (!) to find out about 凄 and all of its surprises: the reason for its “ice” radical, the way 凄 has just one Joyo yomi (it's not すご•い!), and the shockingly negative nuance 凄 can have (as in words for "ghastly" and "violent"). Learn terms that intensify 凄い. And discover the revolting ingredient in a Viagra-like drink!
wake up
JOK: 2041
Whether you awaken from sleep, awaken to reality, or wake up your pineal gland, 醒 is your kanji! It enables athletes to awaken dormant talents, leading to headlines such as "Naomi Osaka Comes to Life"! Discover how to talk about spoiled fun and ruined moods and how to say that you're half-asleep. Also learn how you can sober up with a double shot of the "saké" radical!
boil
JOK: 2044
Learn words for “light roast (coffee),” “roasted soybeans (for Setsubun),” “steeping tea,” and “warming saké,” as well as “in a nutshell” and a term for roasting human organs (figuratively)! Find out how sencha stacks up against other green teas, discover the wide range of senbei (rice crackers), and see which deep-fried snack is healthy. Also learn what “senbei futon” means.
envious
JOK: 2045
Learn to say, "Anne is the envy of all her friends," "She could only stare at her slender friend enviously," and "It has a location anyone would envy." Find out how to talk about envying success or a new house, and learn the Japanese for things like "enviably beautiful skin" and "The Philippines is in an enviable position." Also discover the Buddhist equivalent of the 10 Commandments!
composition
JOK: 2048
For millennia, humans have jotted down notes, and 箋 has long served that purpose. Find out which materials the ancient Chinese and Japanese wrote on before paper. Also learn terms for pieces of paper that serve various functions, from Post-its and stationery to prescriptions. As several images show in this illustration-packed essay, the word for "prescription" can be richly figurative.
tray
JOK: 2049
Learn about inventions in Japanese dining, such as box trays and low personal tables, both of which people whisk away after meals. Read about formal meals in which one eats from dishes on multiple trays, and learn when a tray should or shouldn't have legs. Find out why a popular bento box has theater connections and why one meal-related term means "a woman's sexual advances."
target
JOK: 2050
Whether you want to talk about aiming a camera or aiming a golf shot, this kanji is for you. It literally has to do with guns but figuratively offers much more, appearing for instance in terms for intentions and hidden agendas. Through 狙, find out what made a female Soviet teenager famous in World War II, and learn who may have conspired to take down a recent U.S. president.
go upstream
JOK: 2051
Learn to say that a temple dates back to the 9th century and that a conflict goes back to childhood. Find out how the Japanese say that they've hiked toward the source of a river or sailed up the Sumida. (The verb changes on the return trip!) See how the Japanese have been pioneers in time travel. Also become versed in the habits of salmon and the way their lives end in a noble but tragic way.
formerly
JOK: 2052
See which yomi tripped up a prime minister, prompting endless ridicule. Find out which literary giant was also a military doctor who misunderstood an illness, causing the “beriberi dispute.” Also learn to say, “He lived to meet his great-grandchildren,” “My family has lived in Tokyo since my great-grandfather's time,” and “The area was struck by the greatest earthquake on record.”
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