The Kanji 鬼畏異細思脳悩胃-田 (4) “not rice paddies”


In this post, we are going to look at kanji in which the component 田 did not come from “rice paddies.” Three origins are discussed here — [A] The shape 田 from “head of the spirit of the dead” in the kanji 鬼畏異; [B] The shape 田 “brain” from “baby’s skull viewed from above” in the kanji 細思脳悩; and [C] The shape 田 from “stomach” in the kanji 胃.

[A] The shape 田 from “head of the spirit of the dead”– 鬼畏 and 異

The kanji 畏 has the 田 shape at the top, but in order to discuss that it may be useful to look at a closely related kanji 鬼 first.

  1. The kanji 鬼 “devil; deceased”

History of Kanji 鬼In the history of the kanji 鬼 shown on the left, in oracle bone style, in brown, it was a figure with a square head with a crisscross inside kneeling down. The crisscross inside the square shape signified a fierce expression of a deceased person. It meant the spirit of a deceased person. In bronze ware style, in green, the head became a pointed shape. In the old style that predated ten style given in Setsumon, in gray, the left side had an altar table, and a small shape that signified a dark spirit was added next to the figure. In ten style, in red, an altar table was not present. The kanji reflected ten style writing, including the top short stroke above the head as a short slanted stroke. From the spirit of the dead in its origin, 鬼 was used to signify mysterious ability or supernatural power.

The kun-yomi /oni’/ means “ogre; devil,” and is in 鬼退治 “slaying the ogre” in folktale, 鬼ごっこ (“a game of tag” /onigo’kko/) in children’s play, and 仕事の鬼 (“demon for work” /shigoto-no-oni’/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in 鬼才 (“genius; a person of extraordinary talent” /kisai/) and 鬼門 (“weak point; area to be avoided” /kimon/). The expression 鬼籍に入る (“to join the necrology; to die” /ki’seki-ni hai’ru/) takes the original meaning of the spirit of a deceased person. Other kanji that contain 鬼 among the Joyo kanji all reflect “spirit” in its origin. They are 魂 (“soul; spirit” /ta’mashii/ in kun-yomi, /ko’n/ in on-yomi), 魅 (“charm” /mi/ in on-yomi) and 醜 (“ugly” /miniku’i/ in kun-yomi, /shu’u/ in on-yomi).

  1. The kanji 畏 “to revere; obey respectfully”

History of Kanji 畏In the oracle bone style sample of the kanji 畏 (a), we recognize a shape similar to the kanji 鬼 on the left, with a couple of differences — the figure in 畏 was standing whereas the figure in 鬼 was kneeling; and 畏 had a stick. A figure of the spirit of the dead carrying a stick signified something to be feared. The bronze ware style samples (b) and (c) had the position switched. In the third bronze ware style sample (d) another set of elements was added on the right side — a stick and a hand. As we have discussed before, “a stick” and “a hand” made up the meaning “to cause an action to happen,” which became a  bushu bokuzukuri 攴, or 攵 in a newer kanji [the postings on October 18 and 24, 2014]. So the right side reinforced the meaning “making someone revere or obey respectfully.” In ten style, (f), just as we saw in 鬼, the pointed head changed to a short line sticking out above the head. The bottom shape is difficult to make out (and its older style given in Setsumon (e) is not helpful to me either.) The best I can do is to suggest that the stick on the left, the body in the center and a hand contributed to this shape. The kanji 畏 means “to be fearful of; awe.”

The kun-yomi 畏れる /osore’ru/ means “to revere; awe,” and another kun-yomi 畏まる /kashikoma’ru/ (this sound not on the Joyo kanji list) means “to obey respectfully; humble oneself.” The polite expression かしこまりました (“Certainly; I understand.” /kashikomarima’shita/) comes from this verb. The on-yomi /i/ is in 畏敬の念 (“reverence; awe” /ikee-no-ne’n/) and 畏怖の念 (“fearful; with awe” /ihu-no-ne’n/).

History of Kanji 異(frame)The kanji : Another kanji that had the shape 田 related to a fierce facial expression or a spirit is the kanji 異. [Two post on May 31, 2014 and September 26, 2014]. In 異, rather than a face bearing fierce expression, it was a mask worn in a votive play. In oracle bone style and bronze ware style on the right we see two hands holding a mask of a fearsome face. The ten style sample had a stage for the votive play added. Putting on a mask of an extraordinary face changes the wearer into another person. It meant “different.”

There is another difference in ten style. In the ten style of 鬼 and 畏 from “face/head,” there was a short line sticking out at the top whereas 異 from “mask” did not. Then, if we look at the ten style samples of the kanji 細思脳悩, which originated from a baby’s skull as we are about to see,we notice that they all have a short line at the top. So, it appears that this short line at the top in ten style did carry the meaning of a head as a part of the body. In the case of 鬼, it retained as the short slanted stroke in kanji.

[B] The shape田 “brain” from baby’s skull

The next four kanji shared the same shape in ten style — a rounded square with a diagonal crisscross and a short line on top. That shape became 田 in the kanji 細 and 思, but not in the kanji 脳 or 悩.

  1. The kanji 細 “small; thin”

History of Kanji 細The left side of the ten style of the kanji 細 was a skein of threads, which signified “long and thin,” and it became the bushu itohen. History of Kanji Component %22Brain%22On the right side was a rounded square shape with a diagonal crisscross inside and a short line at the top. This shape came from an infant small head with a fontanel that was viewed from the top. A fontanel is a soft spot between the bones of the skull and it is  called ひよめき /hiyomeki/ or 泉門 /senmon/ in Japanese. The gap is so small that it signified “smallness.” Together they meant something “long and thin; very small.” In an earlier kanji for 細, the right side had 囟 (if your browser comes as blank, it is (b) in the purple table on the right.) The diagonal crisscross was similar to a katakana メ.

History of Kanji 思(frame)The kanji : The kanji 思 shared the same origin as “brain” as 細. We have looked at the kanji 思 in connection with 心 “heart.”[February 7, 2015] In ten style the top was an infant head where the bones of the skull had not closed completely and it signified the brain. Together with an anatomical shape of a “heart” they meant “to think.” In kanji the top took the shape 田 and the bottom 心.

The kanji 脳 ”brain” and 悩 “torment; distress” The meaning of “brain” from a baby’s skull with a fontanel shape not only became the shape 田, but it also became an combination of a receptacle with a katakana /me/ inside, in kanji such as 脳 and 悩. We revisit those kanji that we looked at earlier [February 21, 2015] to focus on the role of “brain.”

History of Kanji 脳(frame)The kanji 脳: The left side of the ten style writing of the kanji 脳 (a) on the right was a person. On the right side in addition to an infant head viewed from above, it had three wavy lines. Those were fully grown hair. So, the right side was no longer that of an infant, but of a person. Together they meant “brain.” (b) and (c) were both older kanji, (b) with a person from ten style, and (c) with the body radical nikuzuki 月. Officially (c) was the kyujitai. In shinjitai (d) the right side had a simplified shape ツ and the bottom was replaced by a receptacle shape with メ inside.

History of Kanji 悩(frame)The kanji :  The left side of the ten style writing was a woman, whose role is not clear. It meant “to torment; distress.” In kyujitai 女 was replaced by the bushu risshinben “heart.” In shinjitai, the right side have gone through the same process as 脳.

In [B] we have looked at four kanji 細思脳 and 悩, that originated from a baby’s skull. They all share the same ten style shapes with a diagonal crisscross inside (囟).  The baby’s skull became 田 in two kanji 細 and 思, and a receptacle with a メ in 脳 and 悩.

One more “not rice paddies” 田 here — 胃.

[C] The shape 田 from “stomach”     

  1. The kanji 胃

History of Kanji 胃In bronze ware style of the kanji 胃, the top was a stomach that contained food. The dots signified that it had food particles and was not empty. The bottom came from a piece of meat, which signified that the writing was about a part of a body. Together they meant “stomach.” There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 胃 /i/ means “stomach,’ and is in 胃腸 (“stomach and intestines” /ichoo/).

Next we are going to move onto another topic of “habitats.” Since we have discussed a house in the bushu ukanmuri “house,” anakanmuri “opening (in a cave dwelling),” and madare “house with one side open” before we spent four posts on the bushu ta “rice paddies,” how about returning to a house and looking at a door and a gate next time?   [July 25, 2015]

The Kanji 里野予理王玉畜蓄玄 – 田 (3)

  1. The kanji 里 “village; one’s parents home”

History of Kanji 里For the kanji 里, the top of the bronze ware style writings, in green, was rice paddies which had neatly arranged grids. Under that the vertical line had a bulge which signified a ball of dirt on the ground (土.) Together they meant a land where people grew rice and produce. It meant a “village; one’s parents’  home.” In the two bronze ware style samples, the center line in the two elements “rice paddies” and “ground” was continuous, rather than two discrete images. In fact none of the eight bronze ware writing samples in Akai (2010) shows a separation between the two elements. We do not have oracle bone style writing. Ten style, in red, had lines that were even thickness.

The kun-yomi 里 /sato/ means “village,” and 里帰り /satogaeri/ means “return to parents home; homecoming.” /Sato/ also is used by a married woman talking about her parents home, in a more humble style than saying 実家 /jikka/. The expression 里心がつく /satogo’koro-ga tsu’ku/) means “to start feeling homesick.” The on-yomi /ri/ was a unit of distance measurement. In Japan one ri was about 4 km. The expression 千里の道も一歩から /se’nri-no-michi-mo ip’po-kara/ means “A long journey begins with the first step.”

  1. The kanji 野 “fields; outside”

History of Kanji 野For the kanji 野, the oracle bone style sample (a), in brown, and the bronze ware style sample (b) had two “tree” 木, signifying woods 林, and “soil; ground” 土. Together they signified “wooded land.” Another bronze ware style sample (c) had rice paddies and the origin of 予 “roomy; latitude” at the top, instead of a wooded land. The bottom was “soil.” Together a land that stretched like many rice paddies meant “fields.” While in (c), 田 and 土 were placed in two separate locations, in ten style (e) the two elements became one shape 里 “village.” The right side was 予 “roomy; latitude.”  Setsumon also gave the shape (d) as its old style, in gray. The shape (d) consisted of 林 “wooded area,” 予 “roominess” and 土 “soil.”

History of Kanji 予(frame)The Kanji 予; The origin of 予 was explained as a weaving shuttle with a thread attached at the bottom. A weaving shuffle pushed through the loom between the threads that were loosened a little. In order to get the shuttle to pass through, threads were pulled to make room. From “making room in advance of a shuttle’s passing” the kanji 予 meant “in advance; preliminary.” As a kanji, 予 only had the ten style sample, as shown on the right. But as a component of 野, we can see a couple earlier shapes in (c) and (d) in the history of the kanji 野 above.

So, the left side of the kanji 野 was 里 “village,” and the right side 予 was “roominess.” Together a spacious piece of land in the field meant “field.” A field was outside of a town where important business was conducted. From that it meant “outside the power; outsider; opposition.”

The kun-yomi /no/ is in 野原 (”a green field” /no’hana/). The on-yomi /ya/ is in 野球 (“baseball” /yakyuu/), 野党 (“opposition party” /ya’too/), 在野 (“outside government; outside power” /zaiya/), 野蛮な (“barbaric” /yaban-na/).

  1. The kanji 理 “logic; rational”

History of Kanji 理For the kanji 理, the left side of the ten style writing 王 was jewels strung together. Splitting a gem neatly along the natural cleavage signified the rational way to do something. The right side 里 was used phonetically for /ri/, and also contained 田 “rice paddies.” Rice paddies had levees that went through. Both components had the meaning of something going straight through. From that the kanji 理 meant “logic; rational.”

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ri/ is in 理解する (“to understand” /ri’kai-suru/), 理由 (“reason” /riyuu/), 無理な (“unreasonable” /mu’ri-na/) and 論理 (“logic” /ro’nri/).


King’s axe

The kanji 玉 and : The kanji 王 means “king; crown” and the kanji 玉 means “jewel; ball.” Jewels could also signify the crown jewels of a king. In a traditional kanji dictionary, 王 and 玉 are treated as one bushu. However the two shapes have totally different lines of history.

The kanji 王 came from a large ornamental axe of a ruler that signified power, such as the drawing on the right. History of Kanji 王(frame)In the history of the kanji 王 on the right, in oracle bone style it was an outline of an axe that was placed with the blade side down. In bronze ware style the first example showed a thick blade. The bronze ware style and ten style samples showed the middle horizontal line closer to the top line to emphasize the importance of the bottom, the blade. In kanji the three horizontal lines were distributed evenly.

History of Kanji 玉(frame)The kanji 玉 came from a string of jewels. The oracle style sample had three jewels with a string going through with a knot at the top. In bronze ware style and ten style, the three horizontal lines were evenly placed, unlike the kanji 王. In kanji a dot was added to differentiate it from 王.

Among the Joyo kanji the component 玉 is used in just a few kanji, such as the kanji 玉, 宝 and 璧. Most kanji use the component 王 even when it originated in, and/or still means, “jewel,” including the kanji 現珍班球環 and 珠.

  1. The kanji 裏 “back; inside; wrong side”

History of Kanji 裏For the kanji 裏, in bronze ware style, the left sample (a) was the same as that of the kanji 里. In (b), 里 was placed inside a collar and was used phonetically for /ri/. Together something inside the collar meant the wrong side of clothes (a collar). The kanji 裏 meant “the back; inside: the wrong side.”

The kun-yomi 裏 /ura’/ or 裏側 /uragawa/ means “the back; inside; the wrong side,” and is in 裏工作 (“behind-the-scene maneuvering” /urako’osaku/) and 裏話 (“story behind; inside story” /uraba’nashi/). The on-yomi /ri/ is in 裏面 (“back side” /ri’men/).

In this last post on kanji that came from 田 “rice paddies,” let us look at two more that may have a different origin here — 畜蓄.

  1. The kanji 畜 “livestock”

History of Kanji 畜The top of the kanji 畜 was 玄. The history of 玄 is shown on the right.

History of Kanji 玄(frame)The kanji 玄: The bronze ware style of 玄 was a skein of threads. (The one in gray is the old style before ten style given in Setsumon.) In ten style the top was added to signify the tied knot for dyeing. From dyeing threads dark, it meant “black” and “mysterious.”

For the kanji 畜, there are different views on what was under 玄 “skein of threads.” Shirakawa treated it as a pot to dye threads. From soaking the skein of threads for a duration of time to pick up pigments better, it meant “to accumulate.” The Kadokawa dictionary treated the top not as the skein of threads but as an abbreviated shape of the kanji that meant “to nurture (the right side of the kanji 滋),” and the bottom as rice paddies. Together from leaving rice field uncultivated to regain the nutrients in the soil, it meant “to accumulate; store.” Later on the kanji 畜 came to be used to mean “livestock.” For the original meaning “to accumulate; store” a bushu kusakanmuri was added 蓄.

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /chi’ku/ is in 家畜 “livestock.” The word 畜生 originally meant “animals” (in the sense of below humans) and is used as a strong cursing word “You brute!” by an angry male speaker with a variation of こん畜生 /konchikisho’o; konchikisho’o/.

  1. The kanji 蓄 “to accumulate; store”

History of Kanji 蓄We have already touched above on how the kanji 蓄 came about. With the bush kusakanmuri “plants” added, it bears the original meaning of the bottom “to accumulate; store.”

The kun-yomi 蓄える /takuwae’ru/ means “to stash away; store.” The on-yomi /chi’ku/ is in 貯蓄 (”saving” /chochiku/), 蓄積する (”to accumulated; heap up” /chikuseki-suru/), 蓄電 (“to charge electricity” /chikuden/).

There are other kanji among the Joyo kanji that contain 田 that originated from the rice paddies. The presence of the meaning from “rice paddies in the kanji 畔 (“levee; ridge” /u’ne/ in kun-yomil /ha’n/ in on-yomi), and 苗 (“nursery plant; seedling” /na’e/ in kun-yomi, /byo’o/ in on-yomi) are self-evident. The kanji 描 (“to describe; depict” /ega’ku/ in kun-yomi and /byo’o/ in on-yomi) and 猫 (“cat” /ne’ko/ in kun-yomi and /byo’o/ in on-yomi) are phonetically related to 苗 /byo’o/.  Another kanji 奮 (“to muster one’s courage/strength” /huruu/ in kun-yomi and /hu’n/ in on-yomi came from the rice paddies.)

We have had three postings on kanji that contain 田 “rice paddies.” There are kanji that contain the shape 田 but do not mean “rice paddies.” I will try to put some of them together in the next post.  [July 18, 2015]

The Kanji 略各当(當)尚番米巻券 – 田 (2)


In this post we continue to look at kanji that contain 田 and related kanji — 略各当(當)尚番米巻券.

(1) 略 “summary; tactic”

History of Kanji 略For the kanji 略, in ten style, the left side was 田 “rice paddies.” The right side was the kanji 各 that was used phonetically to mean “to divide.” When a new land was conquered, a strategy for how to manage the new land or tax its new rice fields was drawn up. From strategy, it meant “tactic.” It was also borrowed to mean “summary.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /rya’ku/ is used in 省略 (“omission” /shooryaku/), 略図 (“outline; sketch” /ryakuzu/), 計略 (“trick; strategy” /keeryaku/), 略す (“to shorten; take out” /ryaku’su/). The expression 前略 /ze’nryaku/ is the greeting phrase that you write at the beginning of a hurriedly written letter, without putting in an expected seasonal greeting.

History of Kanji 各(frame)The kanji 各: The top of the kanji 各 came from a foot that faced backward or downward. It is a bushu suinyoo . For the explanation of “backward foot” please refer to the July 5, 2014, posting. Even though we spent four postings looking at “a backward foot” a year ago, I did not discuss the kanji that contain 各. The reason was that 各 by itself as a kanji was a borrowing that meant “each; individual.” There was not much for me to add. 各 as a component was mostly used phonetically with little relationship with the original meaning. Several kanji that contain 各 as its component have the following meanings and on-yomi: 格 (“standard; class” /kaku; koo/), 客 (“guest” /kyaku; kaku/), 落 (“to fall” /raku/), 絡 (“to intertwine; contact” /raku/), 路 (“road” /ro/), 略 (“summary; tactic” /ryaku/) and 閣 (“tall important building” /kaka/).  (Kun-yomi is omitted here.)  We can see the phonetic connections in on-yomi.

(2) 当 (當) “appropriate; correct; the very X”

History of Kanji 当The kanji 当 does not have 田, but 当 had the kyujitai 當 that contained 田. The kyujitai, in blue on the left, faithfully reflected its ten style. In ten style the top was 尚 “high,” which was used phonetically to mean “to be appropriate” (we are going to look at its history below.)  The bottom was 田 “rice paddies.” From an appropriate value for rice paddies, it meant “appropriate; correct.” It was also used to mean “this; the very X.” I am wondering why the bottom of the shinjitai was so drastically abbreviated to ヨ, when the kyujitai was not that complex. I have not encountered a good explanation in reference for this.

The kun-yomi 当たる /ataru/ “to hit (a target)” is in 思い当たる (“to recall; remember” /omoiata’ru/), 八つ当たりする (“to take out on someone” /yatsua’tari-suru/), 当たり前 (“natural; of course; obviously” /atarimae/). The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 当然 (“naturally; of course; obviously” /toozen/), 当人 (“the person in question” /to’onin/), 当事者 (“person concerned; party involved” /tooji’sha/) and 正当化する (“to justify” /seetooka-suru/).

History of Kanji 尚(frame)The kanji 尚; This kanji is not a Joyo kanji or a traditional bushu. But it appears as a component in other frequently used kanji including 常 and 党 in addition to the kyujitai 當. (尚 and other related kanji 常堂賞償党 are discussed in a later post on human habitats.) The history is shown on the right. In oracle bone style, bronze ware style and ten style, the bottom was a kitchen stove with a door to the furnace. The top was smoke or steam rising straight up. From rising straight up high, this shape signified “high.”

(3) 番 “turn; watch; number”

History of Kanji 番There are different views on how the kanji 番 came about. One view is that the top meant to scatter seeds and the bottom was rice paddies. The top was interpreted as grain such as rice. Growing rice involves different steps in a set order, and gave the meaning “turn; a number in a series.” Thus, the kanji 番 meant “to turn; a number; a watch; pair.” It makes good sense to me. However, as I looked at several samples of bronze ware style writing, I began to feel a little uncertain about that. The problem is that the history of the kanji 米 showed a very different shape, as shown on the right.

History of Kanji 米(frame)The kanji 米: The oracle bone style sample had three grains on both sides of a diagonal line. It meant a stalk of millet on which grain was still attached. No bronze ware style sample is available to us. In ten style, it became a cross with grain scattered in four directions. It looks similar to the top of the ten style of 番. But there is an important difference — the tip of the center line in 番 in ten style was bent whereas 米 was straight. So, the top of 番 might not have had been scattered rice grains at the top. That bring to us another view here.

The another view originated from Setsumon. It treated the whole shape as a single image of an animal paw, with claws at the top and palm below. I would never have thought of that. But the power of suggestion is working on me now. An animal paw signified a step for a person, and it signified a person stepping out for his watch duty. It meant “duty watch.” A watch duty was done taking turns, thus “order; a number in a series” and also done in pairs, thus “pair.”

There is no kun-yomi for 番 in the Joyo kanji, but /tsugai/ is used in 鳥の番 (“a pair of birds” /tori no tsugai/) customarily. The on-yomi 番 /ba’n/ means “watch; turn,” and is in 一番 (“the first; most” /ichi’ban), 番をする (“to be on watch duty” /ba’n-o-suru/), 留守番 (“house sitting; staying home” /rusuban/), 番人 (“watch; guard” /banni’n/), 当番 (“duty; watch” /to’oban/) and 番組 (“TV/radio program” /bangumi/).

One more thing about the top of the ten style writing of 番: I have come across in a few kanji that had the same shape at the top of ten style writing. In those kanji it is interpreted as “a paw” or “a human hand.”  Let us look at two examples here, 巻 and 券.

History of Kanji 巻(frame)The kanji 巻: The history of the kanji 巻 is shown on the right. One view, from Shirakawa, was that in ten style the top was an animal paw that signified animal hide. The bottom had two hands outside, and the inside was a person in a crouched position. Together they signified hands rolling an animal hide into a scroll. Another view, from the Kadokawa dictionary, is that it had two hands making a rice ball in the shape of a crouched person. It meant “to roll.” This view appears to take the top as grain or rice.

History of Kanji 券(frame)The kanji 券: The history of the kanji 券 is shown on the right. In ten style the top was an animal paw and the bottom had two hands and a knife. Together they meant cutting an animal hide that had a pledge written on it in half to keep as a tally. Another view is that it was used phonetically to mean “to make a notch.” With a knife at the bottom, it meant a tally. The kanji 券 means “ticket; tally.”

There are a little more matter that I would like to explore on 田. We will continue in the next posting. [July 11, 2015]

The Kanji 田画畑留界介町丁 – 田 (1)

  1. The kanji 田 “rice paddies”

History of Kanji 田We have looked at the origin of the kanji 田 “rice paddies” earlier when we discussed the kanji 男 [December 19, 2014, post]. Since then several bronze ware style samples have come to my attention, so I am adding a couple of bronze ware style samples here, in green. The oracle bone style samples, in brown, had more than a single line vertically and/or horizontally inside the rectangular shape. It was rice paddies and the lines signified levees. In the beginning stage of growing rice, fields are immersed in water inside raised ridges. Those strips of raised land also served as a footpath. The writing meant “rice paddies.” In bronze ware style, the rice paddies were simplified to four paddies. The proportion of the ten style sample, in red, was typical of ten style, which was longer than it was wide.

The kun-yomi /ta/ is in 田んぼ (田圃) /tanbo/ “rice paddies.” The on-yomi /de’n/ is in 水田 (“irrigated rice paddies” /suiden/), 油田 (“oil field” /yuden/), 炭田 (“coal field” /tanden/). It is also customarily used for the word 田舎 (“countryside” /inaka/).

  1. The kanji 画 “drawing; plan”

History of Kanji 画For the kanji 画, in bronze ware style, it had a hand holding a brush at the top, and rice paddies at the bottom. An official recording a boundary of rice paddies meant “boundary; to draw.”  In ten style, the lines surrounded rice paddies to show the boundaries in four directions. In kyujitai, in blue, it consisted of 聿 “to write” from a hand holding a brush, 田 “rice paddies,” and another line underneath 一. In shinjitai, the top was reduced to just 一, and below that 由, instead of 田, was placed inside a receptacle shape 凵.

There is no kun-yomi for 画 in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ga/ is in 画家 (“painter” /gaka/), 画面 (“screen” /ga’men; gamen/), and 漫画 (“comics” /manga/). Another on-yomi /ka’ku/ is in 企画する (“to make a plan; propose a project” /kikaku-suru/), 画数 (“number of writing strokes” /kakusu’u/), 九画 (“nine strokes” /kyu’ukaku/), and 画する (“to mark an epoch or boundary” /kaku-su’ru/).

  1. The kanji 畑 “agricultural field; specialty”

No ancient writing existed because this was created in Japan. It is a 国字 (“kanji that was created in Japan” /kokuji/). All kokuji are a composite of two semantic components. The kanji 畑 is no exception – it consists of the kanji 火 “fire” and the kanji 田 “rice paddies.” The agricultural fields that were not immersed in water would occasionally be burned to give the soil certain nutrients. Together they signified an agricultural field that was not necessarily irrigated. It meant “agricultural field.” The word /tanbo/ 田んぼ is used for rice paddies whereas the word /hatake/ 畑 is used for field that is not immersed in water. 畑 is also used for a more general sense of one’s field, such as a specialty of one’s work.

The kun-yomi /hatake/ 畑 means “agricultural field,” and is in 田畑 (“farm; field” /ta’hata/), 畑仕事 (“field work” /hatakeshi’goto/), 花畑 (“flower field” /hanaba’take/), 畑違い (“different area of expertise” /hatakechi’gai/), 化学畑 (“chemistry field” /kagakuba’take/).

  1. The kanji 留 “to stay; remain; fasten”

History of Kanji 留For the origin of the kanji 留, we discuss two different interpretations here. One from Shirakawa is that in bronze ware style the left side was a stream of water with two pools of water on both sides, and the right side was rice paddies. The pools of water signified something “to stay in one place” like water in rice paddies. It meant “to stay; remain.” In ten style the two elements were placed up and down.

History of Kanji 留 (old kanji photos)Another interpretation is from the Kadokawa dictionary. It does not refer to the bronze ware style sample above. Instead, it appears to be based on writing from later time, including from official seal samples and a stele, as shown on the right side. In this account, the top was explained to be the kanji 卯 “horse’s bridle” and the bottom 由 was used phonetically to mean “to put a bridle on firmly.” Together tying a horse to a tree by the bridle to keep it in one place signified “to fasten” and “to remain.” In the Key to Kanji book I took the latter view. Now I am wondering if both accounts can be possible to explain “to remain” and “to fasten.” In shinjitai kanji the symmetrical shapes at the top (卯) were replaced by two different shapes.

The kun-yomi 留める /tomeru/ means “to fasten.” Another kun-yomi 留まる /todoma’ru/ means “to stay in a place.” The on-yomi /ryu’u/ is in 留学 (“study in a foreign country” /ryuugaku/), 留意する (“to pay enough attention to” /ryu’ui-suru/). Another on-yomi /ru/ is in 留守にする (“to be absent from home” /ru’su-ni-suru/) and 留守番 (“house sitter; staying home” (during a family is away) /rusuban/).

  1. The kanji 界 “world; area” and 介 “to help; mediate”

History of Kanji 界For the kanji 界, in ten style, the left side was rice paddies, and the right side was used phonetically for /ka’i/ to mean “something between.” The history of the kanji 介 is shown on the right.

History of Kanji 介(frame)The Kanji 介; In oracle bone style a person was standing sandwiched by two dots on both sides. It signified a person wearing armor in the front and on the back. A hard casing such as armor was also used for shellfish, as in the word 魚介類 (“fish and shellfish” /gyoka’irui/). A person sandwiched between two sides signified someone who “mediates two sides” or “help.” So the kanji 介 meant “to help; mediate.”

For the kanji 界, 田 ”rice paddies” and 介 “a person in the middle” together signified the area inside the boundaries. What is inside a boundary is also a world. It meant “world.” In shinjitai, the rice paddies 田 is placed on top of 介.

There is no kun-yomi for 界. The on-yomi /ka’i/ is in 世界 (“world” /se’kai/), 限界 (“limit” /genkai/), 境界 (“boundary” /kyookai/), 財界 (“financial world; business circle” /zaikai/), 他界する (“to die” /takai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 町 “town”

History of Kanji 町For the kanji 町, in ten style, the left side was neatly arranged rice paddies. The right side was 丁. The history of the kanji 丁 is shown on the right.

History of Kanji 丁The kanji 丁: In the oracle bone style of 丁, it was the top of a nail that was viewed from the above. In bronze ware style, the nail was viewed from the side. A nail is pounded down in a right angle. In ten style it became stylized. 丁 meant something that had a right angle such as a block. (We discussed 丁 when we looked at the kanji 打 in the June 7, 2014, post.)

For the kanji 町, 田 “rice paddies” and 丁 “block” together meant the land that had blocks and junctions, that is a “town.” /Cho’o/ used to be used as the measurement of land in olden days.

The kun-yomi 町 /machi’/ means “town” and is in 町中に出る (“to go into the town” /machinaka-ni-de’ru/), 町外れ (“outer edge of a town” /machiha’zure/) and 下町 (“downtown; shitamachi.” /shitamachi/). The word Shitamachi usually refers to the low area of Tokyo on the east of the Sumida River. In the Tokugawa era, large residences where samurai class people lived were on the west side of Edo Castle and commoners lived on the east side toward the waterfront. The on-yomi /cho’o/ is in 町内会 (“neighborhood association” /choona’ikai/), 町人 (“merchant” (in old class system, as contrasted to samurai); townspeople” /choonin/).

There are several more frequently used kanji that contain 田, so we will continue this topic in the next post. [July 4, 2015]