The Joy o' Kanji Essays

This page provides a synopsis of all 535 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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rut
JOK: 1125
This kanji brings us both the straightness of railroad tracks and a term for “orbit” (usually elliptical). The shape isn’t important; the idea of a path is. Learn to say, “We can't know where the trajectory of our lives will take us,” “get the economy back on track,” “when your business gets going,” “We need a course correction,” “go off the rails,” and “He was really wild in his youth.”
starving
JOK: 1127
Learn to talk about literal hunger, saying things such as “A slice of bread was not enough to satisfy his hunger” and “I would rather starve to death than steal.” Also find out how to speak of it figuratively, as with “a hunger for adventure” and “starving for conversation.” Encounter a saying about a starving dog’s mentality, and see how the Japanese talk about bloodthirsty beings.
ogre
JOK: 1128
The oni (鬼), the Japanese devil or demon, is elusive. It's hard to find images of this supernatural creature at temples or elsewhere in Japan. On the other hand, devils and demons work their way into our lives much more than we might realize. In Japanese, 鬼 references are pervasive. Find out when 鬼 is a term of endearment and when it's an insult. Learn about a folktale (in which Momotaro travels to Devil's Island) and the holiday called Setsubun. Finally, see how 鬼 functions as a radical or component in several Joyo kanji.
shine
JOK: 1132
This kanji will make your eyes sparkle with joy! Using 輝, you can discuss the shining moon, shoes that gleam, and buildings ablaze with lights. You can also use 輝く figuratively to talk about shining in public speaking and living a radiant life with a brilliant future. Find out how to say “She has glossy hair,” “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine,” and “I noticed a glint in her eyes.”
equestrian
JOK: 1133
Find out about a Japanese tradition of shooting at archery targets from galloping horses. Learn the courteous rituals samurai engaged in before killing each other. See what "white knight" means to Japanese businesspeople. Also discover a theory linking the Japanese and Mongols, a military term related to dragons, and a word relevant both to controlling a horse and to nigiri sushi.
best regards
JOK: 1134
With 宜 we can talk about timing (e.g., We provide timely information), convenience (e.g., For convenience I’m including everyone on this email), and suitability (e.g., Do as you see fit). The kanji also pops up in greetings (e.g., Say hello to your sister for me), phrases about permission (e.g., May I come and see you tomorrow?), and advice (e.g., It would be better to tear it down).
chrysanthemum
JOK: 1141
Chrysanthemums are all-important in Japan. The imperial chrysanthemum seal pops up on coins, passports, and battleships. People eat these flowers, drink them, and dress dolls with them. There are mum festivals and a chrysanthemum month. We find 菊 in the names of movies, animals, and a stone. It has worked its way into folklore and is even in slang for a body part!
cram
JOK: 1144
The kanji 詰 shows up in word after word about feeling stuck, being at a loss, arriving at a dead end, giving someone little space (emotionally speaking), and packing people into a tight place. Learn how to talk about being "jam-packed" (think of a Tokyo subway at rush hour), feeling "ill at ease," and being "at a loss for words."
amount to
JOK: 1148
Learn to talk about exerting influence, as in "Your advice will affect them," "Little did I dream of doing you any harm," and "Hosting the Olympics had various ripple effects." This includes the spread of TV and smartphones. Also discuss what is out of reach: "The problem was beyond my reach," "I can't hold a candle to Susan," and "Nature is beyond human control." Discover the nuance of the conjunction 及び via several signs.
hill
JOK: 1149
Learn to say, “The hills were covered with snow” and “He sledded down the hill.” See how 丘 differs from three other hill kanji. Find out about the Hill of Promises and Hill of Freedom. Discover the risk of sitting on a pipe as an unestablished couple. Take a crash course in volcanology. Investigate terms for round body parts. And see why noblewomen hired nuns to take the blame for farts!
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