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

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