31 December 2011

Kanji Lesson 13

By Joi (Flickr)
CC BY 2.0
This kanji is a picture of a pair of bamboo trees. The "pair" emphasize the characteristic of bamboo that grows very fast through rhizomes. A clump of bamboo trees usually come from the same rhizome. The vertical lines represent the thin & tall culm (stem). The upper strokes represent the branches and the leaves, and also represent the fact that unlike most other trees, a bamboo plant will not branch and grow leaves until its culm reaches a full, mature height. The hook of the last stroke represents a bamboo shoot just emerging above the ground. Bamboo shoots of many species are edible, and widely used in Asian dishes.

  • 竹の子 (たけのこ) Bamboo shoots

By Sam Howzit (Flickr)
CC BY 2.0
Consists of the kanji for "soil" (土) and four additional strokes. The 土 kanji represents clay soil, which is widely used to make pottery. The leftmost & rightmost additional strokes represent fire (from the kanji 火), and the two middle strokes represent a structure made to burn the clay pots (a primitive kiln). The color of burned clay depends on the burning temperature and its mineral composition, but mostly, it will be in various shades of red.

  • 赤ちゃん (あかちゃん) Baby
  • 赤十字 (せきじゅうじ) Red Cross

Street, City block, Counter for blocks of something, Counter for guns & tools
By Tomasz Sienicki
CC BY 3.0
This kanji is actually a pictogram of a nail (fastener). While this kanji does not by itself have the meaning of "nail", a nail lends its shape to the meaning of this kanji. Most nails consist of a straight, cylindrical body, and a head perpendicular to the body. A bent nail is as useless as the one with a tilted head. It's this straight & perpendicular characteristic that gives the base for the several meanings of this kanji. Streets are ideally straight, and perpendicular to each other at junctions, which will form blocks of residential areas in between (city block). Block of things, for example, blocks of tofu, are cut in a straight and perpendicular manner (to form rectangular shapes). Guns and tools (scissors, saws) are required to be precisely straight in certain parts.

  • 丁目 (ちょうめ) District of a town, City block

Town, Street
Consists of the kanji for rice field (田) and street (丁). A town is actually an evolution of an agricultural village. Initially, people start to live together and work on the (rice) field to provide them food. They build paths between fields as a way for them to commute. As the population grows, they start to build more and more shelter on their land, and the rice fields are getting smaller and smaller. Eventually, most if not all the rice fields are turned into blocks of settlement areas (houses), and the paths between them now become the streets.

  • 下町 (したまち) Low-lying part of a city (usually containing shops, factories, etc.), Shitamachi (low-lying area of eastern Tokyo)

Sound, noise
Consists of the kanji for standing (立) and Sun (日). "Standing Sun" is another name for a solstice. A solstice is a period where the Sun is at its northernmost/southernmost position (as seen from earth) and appears to be staying still ("standing", referring to the tendency of its position to move a bit to the north or to the south along the year). A solstice happens twice in a year, once in the summer where daytime is the longest, and once in the winter where nighttime is the longest. Some cultures consider that the Sun is "missing" in winter solstice (because of the short daytime), and therefore make a loud (noisy) celebrations to "call" the Sun back. This might sound familiar if you've ever heard the story of Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun goddess.

  • 本音 (ほんね) Real intention, Motive

29 November 2011

Kanji Lesson 12

This kanji shows the characteristic of water. The first two strokes (the vertical line & its left-side) represent the characteristic of water that's always has a level surface (perpendicular to the gravitational force) regardless of its container. The left-side stroke is a half of a picture of a bowl of water (seen from the side). The surface of the water is perfectly horizontal despite of the curved bottom of the bowl. The last two strokes represent the characteristic of water that can move/flow in a flexible manner. The straight, diagonal line represents a blockage, and the curved line represents the flow of water that's going around the blockage, hence it's flexibility.
  • 水よう日 (すいようび) Wednesday

Correct, Justice
By winnifredxoxo (Flickr)
CC BY 2.0
Consists of a horizontal line and the kanji for "stop" (止). This kanji represents a beam balance in an equilibrium (balanced state). In general, using a beam balance is about levelling the beam, which means that the beam will stop (no longer sways up & down) at a horizontal position when the amount of weight is correct. The balance scale is also used as a symbol of justice, representing equality and fairness.

  • 不正 (ふせい) Injustice, Dishonesty
  • 正月 (しょうがつ) New Year, New Year's Day, The first month, January

Consists of the radical for "slender" (幺) and the kanji for small (小). The "slender" radical is a picture of a curved, slender object. A slender object is easier to bend & curve (e.g. try to bend a thin wire/rope and then try the thicker one). This kanji represents a slender & small object, a thread.

Car, Vehicle
This kanji is a picture of a rickshaw without the shafts. The rickshaw (which actually comes from the Japanese word "jinrikisha") was a widely used vehicle in China and Japan in the past. The uppermost & lowermost horizontal lines represent the tires of the rickshaw. The middle part represents passenger's seats.
  • 人力車 (じんりきしゃ) Rickshaw
  • 下車 (げしゃ) Alighting (from train, bus, etc.), Getting off

Rice, America (USA)
Courtesy of USDA ARS
Consists of 木 (tree/plant) and two dots on its top to represent rice grains. The rice plant (and many other cereal plants) have its fruits (i.e the grains) stand on top of the plant (jutting out & up instead of hanging down). As for the meaning of "America", it came from the Chinese usage of this character as one of the phonetic component to say the word "America".
  • 米ドル (べいドル) US dollar

Spirit, mind, air, atmosphere, mood
By Dhammika Heenpella (Flickr)
CC BY-NC 2.0
This kanji is a simplified form of an older kanji 氣, which consists of the "gas" (state of matter beside solid & liquid) radical 气 and the kanji for "rice" (米). The "gas" radical is a picture of vapor accumulating at a ceiling, which represents the tendency of most gases to move upward. The first two strokes (the curved line & the topmost horizontal line) represent a ceiling-like structure (actually, the ceiling is the horizontal line, the curved line is one side of the roof). The second stroke (the middle horizontal line) represents accumulated vapor. The last stroke (a horizontal line followed by a downward curve) represents vapor moving from the lower side of the building up to the ceiling (although it's written from top to bottom). In this kanji, the 气 radical represents the general characteristic of a gas, which is invisible, yet can be felt (e.g the wind, which is a flow of gases). The rice (米) is of course, the staple food in China, Japan, and most other (Southern) East Asian countries. A healthy food is the basis for a healthy body, and as the well-known saying says, a healthy body is the basis for a healthy mind (mens sana in corpore sano). In other words, the food (rice) we eat transforms into something invisible, yet can be felt (the mind / spirit).
  • 人気 (にんき) Popular
  • 天気 (てんき) Weather
  • 気に入り (きにいり) Favorite
  • 本気 (ほんき) Seriousness, Truth
  • 大気 (たいき) Atmosphere

22 October 2011

Kanji Lesson 11

(サ、シャ、ひだり) Left
(ウ、ユウ、みぎ) Right
The radical ノ and 一 represent a shoulder and an arm. As a common habit of a right-handed person, the right hand is used for eating (putting the food into the mouth 口), and the left hand is used for working (工) if you really have to do both at the same time.

  • 左手 (ひだりて) Left Hand

Name, Reputation
Consist of Evening (夕) to indicate darkness, and Mouth (口) to indicate speaking. When the day gets dark and visibility is limited (especially in ancient times where there were no electricity), and we have to look for someone, we will have to call his/her name out. Vice versa, if someone else is having difficulties to recognize us in the dark, we should mention our name.

  • 本名 (ほんみょう) Real name

Ahead, Previous
Consist of a part of 生 (birth) and human legs (儿) to indicate movement. Being ahead / previous (ahead of others) is a condition that results from (born of) movement in the right direction (one's effort & progress).

  • 先生 (せんせい) Teacher, Master, Doctor
  • 先日 (せんじつ) The other day, A few days ago
  • 先月 (せんげつ) Last month

Blue, Green
Consist of a part of 生 (life) to represent Plants (the producer of oxygen, a vital element of life), and Moon (月). This kanji have the meaning of the color blue, green, and those in-between (the different shades of cyan). The color green, as we can easily guess, is represented by the plant. The interesting part is the color blue that's represented by the moon. The color of the moon (and the moonlight) as we all know, is not blue. But if we are at a place where there's no artificial light (villages, countrysides, etc), and we go outside on a full moon, our surroundings will appear bluish. This phenomenon is actually a perceptual illusion, and is known as "blue shift".

  • 青森 (あおもり) Aomori (a prefecture in Japan)
  • 青山 (あおやま) Blue Mountain, a neighbourhood in Tokyo

Sentence, Literature, Art
By jondresner (Flickr) CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Consist of the (kettle) lid radical () and a cross below it to describe a decorated utensil/vessel. The decorations usually consist of patterns & calligraphies, hence the notion of "sentence" & "literature".
  • 文化 (ぶんか) Culture, Civilization
  • 文字 (もじ) Letter (of alphabet), Character
  • 文学 (ぶんがく) Literature

Yen, Circle
This kanji is the symbol printed in Japanese bank notes. For example, in 1000 yen bank notes, we will see 千円. In ancient times, all money were made of coins, which explain the other meaning of this kanji (circle/round).

28 September 2011

Kanji Lesson 10

Consist of Power/Strength (力) and Rice-field (田) to describe men, those who work on rice fields with their strength.

  • 男の人(おとこのひと) Man
  • 男の子(おとこのこ) Boy

By pchgorman (Flickr)
Picture of round objects (口) under the cliff to represent the meaning of stones. Notice that the cliff here has a protruding edge.

  • 石川 (いしかわ) Ishikawa (one of the Prefecture in Japan)
  • 化石 (かせき) Fossil

courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey
Coming out, Emerging
Consist of two mountain (山) to describe a smaller mountain (a lava dome) that's coming out of a bigger mountain (a volcano). A lava dome is a common feature of a volcano. It grows over a long period of time and can reach heights of several hundred meters before it either erupts or collapses. After that, another lava dome is formed and the cycle continues.

  • 出口 (でぐち) Exit
  • 出力 (しゅつりょく) Output
  • 見出し (みだし) Subtitle, Index
  • 出生 (しゅっしょう) Birth

Workman, Craft
By jamesjyu (Flickr)
Picture of a building's pillar to represent human's craftmanship.

  • 人工 (じんこう) Artificial, Manmade
  • 大工 (だいく) Carpenter
  • 工学 (こうがく) Engineering

(リツ、リュウ、た.つ、 た.てる)
Stand up 
Picture of the middle lower part (torso, hip & legs) of a person standing on the ground. 

  • 目立つ (めだつ)  To be conspicuous, To stand out
  • 立ち上がる (たちあがる)  To get up

Stop, Halt
Picture of a small plant above the ground (small vertical line at the left side) which growth has stopped, while another plant next to it is still branching & growing up (上).

  • 中止 (ちゅうし)  Suspension, Stoppage

20 September 2011

Kanji Lesson 9

Fond, Pleasing, Like
Consist of Woman (女) and Child (子). Women in general have a fondness for children.

  • 大好き (だいすき) Like (something) very much

(ヒャク, ビャク)
Consist of White (白) and One (一). Among the many celebrations that the Japanese people have, there's one that celebrates one's longevity, which is called "Ga no Iwai". Ga no Iwai is celebrated several time during one's life, starting from the age 60 (called Kanreki), and subsequently at 70, 77, 80, 88, 90, and the last one at the age 99 (called Hakuju). In each celebration, the person being celebrated is wearing clothing with specific color, with Red being the color of Kanreki, and White being the color of Hakuju. If you add one (一) more year to the celebration of Hakuju (99th birthday, where they wear white (白) clothing), you'll get one hundred (百).

  • 二百 (にひゃく) Two Hundred

(セン, ち)
By angela7dreams (Flickr)
CC BY-NC 2.0
Picture of a crane with open wings. In Japanese mythology, the crane is considered a holy creature that can live up to a thousand years. Furthermore, it's also believed that if someone makes a thousand origami cranes (which is called Senbazuru), his/her wish will come true. Please remember though, that the meaning of 千 has nothing to do with the crane, it's associated with the crane in this lesson for mnemonic purpose. As a matter of fact, the combination of this kanji with the kanji for bird (鳥) will create the word 千鳥 (ちどり), which means "Plover" (bird).

  • 三千 (さんぜん) Three Thousand

By Drift Words (Flickr)
Life, Birth
Picture of a seedling that starts branching and growing leaves above the soil (土).

  • 学生 (がくせい) Student
  • 人生 (じんせい) Human life

By ARC (Flickr)
CC BY 2.0
Consist of grass/plant radical and Early (早). In their early development stage (seedling), plants generally have the appearance of grasses, where they have a small size, green leaves, and an inconspicuous stem.

Rice Field
By Jungle_Boy (Flickr)
Picture of the banks in a rice field.

  • 山田 (やまだ) Yamada (person's name)
  • 田中 (たなか) Tanaka (person's name)

13 September 2011

Kanji Lesson 8

By J. Stephen Conn (Flickr)
CC BY-NC 2.0
Picture of a mountain with 3 peaks.

  •  火山 (かざん) Volcano

By Island 2000
Trust Conservation (Flickr)
CC BY-NC 2.0
River, Stream
Picture of a river stream.

  • 小川 (おがわ) Streamlet, Brook

Woods, Thicket
Consist of 2 trees (木) to represent a group of several trees forming a thicket.

Consist of 3 trees (木) to represent lots of trees forming a forest.

By shooh (Flickr)
CC BY 2.0
Above, Up
Picture of the upper part (the branches) of a tree that's above the ground.

  • 目上(めうえ) Superior(s), Senior
  • 上手 (じょうず) Skillful

By Milkwooders (Flickr)
Below, Under
Picture of the lower part (the roots) of a tree that's under the ground.

  • 目下(めした) Subordinate(s), Inferior(s), Junior
  • 下手 (へた) Unskillful

Negative, Non-, Bad
Picture of someone making a "batsu" by crossing both hands in front of his/her chest. "Batsu" is a Japanese body language / gesture  that means "not good" or "no way".
  • 不安 (ふあん) Anxiety
  • 不明 (ふめい) Unknown, Obscure, Uncertain

06 September 2011

Kanji Lesson 7

Early, Fast
By Train.bird (Flickr)
Notice that this character is a part of morning (朝), showing only the sun (日) and the plants below (the grass) (十). If we wake up early and get to the field fast, we can witness the moment where the sun just rose from behind the grass, not even "touching" the leaves of the trees yet.
  • 早朝 (そうちょう) Early morning

By mygothlaundry (Flickr)
Picture of a person (人) juggling fire (the two dots at the left hand and right hand side). 
  • 花火 (はなび) Firework

Middle, Inside
Picture of a line going through the inside of a rectangle right at the middle.
  • 中学 (ちゅうがく) Junior High School

By AI2 (WikiMedia Commons)
CC BY 3.0
Consist of middle (中) and two additional lines below representing a leg. Insects are animals that have legs in the middle of their body. Unlike most mammals that have 4 legs (2 front legs and 2 hind legs), most insects have 6 legs (2 front legs, 2 middle legs, and 2 hind legs).

Power, Strength
Picture of someone showing his muscular left arm, which represents the meaning of strength / power.
  • 入力 (にゅうりょく) Input / Data entry
  • 学力 (がくりょく) Scholarship / Knowledge / Literary ability

Sword, Knife
Picture of a sword hilt.

By crowolf (Flickr)

23 August 2011

Kanji Lesson 6

(カ, ケ, はな)

Consist of grass/plant radical ()  and change (化). Flowering is a sign that a plant has changed from a vegetative state to a reproductive state. Notice that the grass radical consist of two 十 glued together.

  • 花見 (はなみ) Flower viewing in Japan (watching the cherry blossom blooms)

(キュウ, やす.み、やす.み)
Rest, Day off
Consist of person radical and tree (木). In areas where nature is still preserved, such as woods and forests, people take a rest by sitting under and leaning against a tree.
  • 休日 (きゅうじつ) Holiday/Day off; Hari libur/Cuti

(チョウ, あさ)
Consist of a moon (月) and a sun (日) between an upper and lower plant (十). Remember that 十 is a part of the grass/plant radical. The upper 十 represents the tree, the lower one represents the grass. Morning is the time where the sun is still close to the horizon, which can be seen above the grass but still under the trees, and the moon is barely visible. As a matter of fact, in certain times the moon is quite visible in the morning.
  • 朝日 (あさひ) Morning Sun

Character, Letter
Consist of child (子) and roof radical (宀) to represent a house/home. "Children at home" refers to children during their preschool years, where their learning activity is done at home with the help of their parents. They learn to recognize and write simple letters and numbers through games and activities that stimulate their interest. Nowadays in Japan, most of the children entering the 1st grade elementary school are already able to read & write Kana.

Study, Learning
Consist of child (子) and enhanced / ornamented roof to represent the roof of a temple. In ancient china, before the eminence of schools, most educational activities are carried out in temples, a place where children study beyond the letters they've learned at home (字). In later times when schools are already built, especially around the 6th century, most schools have a temple nearby that's built as a tribute to Confucius, a great chinese philosopher.
  • 大学 (だいがく) College/University
  • 化学 (かがく) Chemistry
  • 入学 (にゅうがく) Entry to school / university
  • 見学 (けんがく) Inspection / Study by observation / Field trip

16 August 2011

Kanji Lesson 5

Consist of a line on top (一) to represent the sky/heaven, and earth (土). It's a king's responsibility to maintain the harmony between heaven and earth, in other words, to ensure the physical and spiritual welfare of his people.
  • 王子(おうじ) Prince
  • 女王(じょおう) Queen

(ギョク, たま)
Gemstone / Precious stone (especially Jade), Ball
Consist of a line on top (一) representing the sky, the earth (土), and a dot representing something small (stones) under the earth. Gemstones are usually found buried down under the earth, but their value is sky high. This is especially true for jade which have a special status in Chinese culture. There's even a Chinese saying that means "Gold have a price, but Jade is priceless". Note that the 一 and 土 elements make the kanji for "king" (王), which correspond to a legend that says that in ancient times, only emperors may possess carved jade.
  • 一円玉 (いちえんだま) 1 yen coin
  • 玉子 (たまご) Chicken egg
  • 目玉 (めだま) Eyeball

(カ, ケ, ば.ける、ば.かす、か.す)
Change, Take the form of
Consist of the "person" radical () to show a person in a standing position and 七 to show a person in a sitting position, hence the idea of a "change" in form.
  • 文化 (ぶんか) Culture

(シュ, ズ, て)
Picture of the wrist & the palm with 5 fingers. The fingers are "straightened up" into vertical & horizontal lines.

  • 入手 (にゅうしゅ)  Obtaining, Coming to hand
  • 手入れ (ていれ)Repairs, Maintenance

By hherbzilla (Flickr)
CC BY-NC 2.0
(ボク, モク, き)
Tree, Wood/Timber
Picture of a palm tree with 5 leaves. A palm tree stem doesn't branch, so what looks like a branch is actually a leaf (called "compound leaf"), which is subdivided into smaller parts called "leaflet".
  • 土木 (どぼく) Public works

(ホン, もと) 
Book, Counter for long cylindrical objects
By annieo76
CC BY 2.0
Consist of a tree (木) and a horizontal line at the "stem" area representing a segmented stem. A well known plant with segmented stem is the bamboo plant, whose stem is long and cylindrical by nature. As for the meaning of "book", a book is actually made of many "segments" of paper, which when traced back, will lead to the idea of plant stem (paper <- pulp <- wood <- plant stem).
  • 日本 (にほん) Japan
  • 本日 (ほんじつ) Today
  • 日本人 (にほんじん) Japanese (people)
  • 六本木 (ろっぽんぎ) Roppongi (a place name in Tokyo)
  • 見本 (みほん) Sample

09 August 2011

Kanji Lesson 4

(テン, あめ, あま-)
By D.Boyarrin (Flickr)
CC-BY 2.0
Sky, Heaven
Consist of a line on top (一) that symbolize something high, and big (大) .
  • 天気 (てんき) Weather

Shows the two brightest object in the sky: The Sun & The Moon.
  • 明日(あした) Tomorrow
  • 明白(めいはく) Obvious, Clear

By Chris Gladis
via Wikimedia Commons
CC BY 2.0
(ジョ, おんな)
Picture of a dancing woman.
  • 女の人(おんなのひと) Woman
  • 女の子(おんなのこ) Girl

(ケン, み.る)
Consist of an eye (目) and human legs, a picture of someone looking at something. 
  • 見た目(みため) Appearance

(バイ, かい)

Picture of a creature having a specialized eyes and tentacles. One of the widely known shellfish is the scallop, whose figure is used in many well-known symbols. Take a closer look at the photograph, the tiny black dots are the eyes. A scallop can have up to 100 eyes, and any lost or injured eyes can easily be regrown. The teeth like organs are actually tentacles. These tentacles function both as a sensor and as a sieve to prevent large particle from entering. Scallops have been a commodity in China since around the 13th century, so its no surprise that this character also has the meaning of "commodity" if used as an element of another kanji.

(ド, ト, つち)
By fishermansdaughter (Flickr)
CC BY 2.0
Picture of a pile of soil.

  • 土曜日 (どようび) Saturday

CC BY 2.0
Gentleman, Samurai
Picture of someone with a wide shoulder and narrow hip, which is a perfect posture for a man. Japanese Samurai consist of "perfect" gentlemen that rank high in society and excel in many fields such as culture, education, and martial skill.

  • 力士 (りきし) Sumo Wrestler

02 August 2011

Kanji Lesson 3

The kanji for the number one, two, and three are pretty straightforward, where each character consist of one, two, and three horizontal line(s).
  • 一人 (ひとり)  One person, Alone
  • 二人 (ふたり)  Two persons/Couple
  • 一日 (いちにち) One day
  • 一日 (ついたち) First day of the month
  • 一か月 (いっかげつ) One month
  • 一々(いちいち) One by one (々 is a repetition sign for kanji. It's is called 「のま」 because its shape looks like the katakana 「ノ」 and 「マ」 glued together)

Consist of a gate/door (口) and a pair of human leg. The number four has a significant role in Chinese & Japanese culture. It is pronounced "shi" both in Chinese & Japanese (on-yomi), which resembles the pronunciation for the word "dead". Therefore the number four is considered a bad / unlucky number. Some hospital in japan doesn't have a room with the number 4. Now, what does a gate/door & a pair of leg have to do with death? In Chinese culture, when a person passed away, before the funeral, the coffin will be placed in a position where the feet faces toward the door. As a matter of fact, in Chinese fengshui, there's a bedroom layout called the "coffin position", where one's feet will face toward the door when he/she sleeps, a layout most Chinese will avoid by all means.
  • 四日 (よっか) The fourth day of month, Four days

By sherrivokey (Flickr)
Do you know how many basic taste are there? Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter..and.. Umami. It was not until recently that umami is accepted as the fifth basic taste. One of the best source of glutamic acid, which responsible for the umami taste, is an edible kelp called Kombu, which is extensively cultivated in the seas of Japan & Korea. There are many cultivation methods of kelp, mainly using ropes, floats, and stones. Interestingly, one of the cultivation method has a layout that resembles the character 五. As you can see in the diagram, the upper horizontal line represents the water surface, the lower horizontal line represents the seafloor, the slightly slanted vertical line represents the ropes for the floats and small stones, and finally the bent line represents the rope for the kelp itself that's anchored to the seafloor with a large stone.

  • 五日 (いつか) The fifth day of month, Five days

A Hexagon is a polygon with six edges and six vertices. One of the most famous naturally occurring hexagonal structure is the honeycomb, which consist of tiled regular hexagons. As you can see in the picture, the joined vertices of a regular hexagon tile resembles the character 六, with the horizontal line serves as a reference plane to establish a vertical orientation of the character (to know which way is up).

  • 六日 (むいか) The sixth day of month, Six days

A picture of the number seven, rotated 180 degree. Number seven with a line in the middle is mostly used in Europe and Latin America, and also in Russia where it is taught as the official handwriting rule in the elementary school.

  • 七日 (なのか) The seventh day of month, Seven days

The number eight also has a significant role in Chinese & Japanese culture. Both culture considered number eight as a lucky number, but with different reason. While in Chinese culture the reason is that of the pronunciation, in Japanese culture, it's because of the shape of the character. The character 八 starts as a narrow gap between two lines and broadens gradually until the end. This gives the idea of broadening growth of prosperity as time goes.
  • 八日 (ようか) The eighth day of month, Eight days

By Aspex Design (Flickr)
The fox is a notable animal mentioned in many cultures, including Chinese & Japanese. In Japanese mythology, the fox is depicted as an intelligent being possessing magical power, and is said to have up to nine tails as they grow older and more powerful, which is called "Kyuubi no Kitsune" in Japanese (meaning "Nine-tailed fox"). As a matter of fact, one of the prominent feature of a fox, beside its long & narrow snout, is its long & bushy tail. The tail of the Red Fox is long enough to "brush" the ground while they're standing, which is also the feature of the character 九 whose "tail" is long enough to "touch the ground" and curl back up.
  • 九日 (ここのか) The ninth day of month, Nine days

A picture of the Roman numeral for ten (X) rotated 45 degree.

  • 十日 (とうか) The tenth day of month, Ten days