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