The Kanji 限除余防方険剣障章際祭隣 – こざとへん(3)


This is the third post on kanji with a bushu kozatohen. We are going to look at 限除余防方険剣障章際祭隣.

(1) The kanji 限 “boundary; bounds; to limit”

History of Kanji 限The kanji 限 was discussed earlier in connection with 艮 “to halt; go against; immobile.” [Eyes Wide Open (4) 限眼根恨痕銀退 on April 7, 2014]  艮 has been given a number of different interpretations among references. One is that the top was an eye and the bottom was a “person facing backward,” and together they meant a situation in which a person was unable to move forward facing a big evil eye. Another is that the bottom was a “knife,” instead of a person, and a cut around the eye made by a knife became a scar, thus signifying “to remain; stay.” A third view is that 艮 was used only phonetically to mean “to remain.”  The history of 限  is shown above in two bronze ware styles, in green, and ten style, in red. Whichever explanation we take on the right side, the left side was a mountain or a stack of dirt raised high that deterred one from going forward. From one’s inability to move forward, the kanji 限 meant “boundary; bounds; to limit.”

The kun-yomi 限る /kagi’ru/ means “to limit” and is in 見限る (“to abandon; turn one’s back on” /mikagiru/), 限りない (“endless; best” /kagirina’i/.) The on-yomi /ge’n/ is in 最大限 (“maximum” /saida’igen/), 制限 (“restriction” /seege’n/), 上限 (“upper limit; cap”/joogen/), and 期限 (“time limit” /ki’gen/).

(2) The kanji 除 “to remove”

History of Kanji 除In the bronze ware style sample of the kanji 除, the right side 余 was used phonetically to mean “(time/money/space) to spare; latitude.” How did the shape 余 get that meaning? The history of the shape seems to have been well documented, and example are shown on the right.

History of Kanji 余(frame)The kanji : One view is that for the oracle bone style (a) and bronze ware style (b), it was a surgery needle with a handle to remove lesions. In (c) and ten style (d) the two ハ-like lines were added to mean “to open a wound to remove soemthing.” Removing something that was not wanted came to mean “to have extra space; what is left; latitude.” Another view is that it was a spade that removed dirt and meant something extra. The two ハ shapes signified dirt that was removed to make a hole. (One view of the origin of the kanji 穴 “hole” is consistent with this.)

In the kanji 除, a kozatohen providing “dirt,” and 余 used phonetically together meant 除 “to remove extra dirt.” I must admit that this explanation is not as convincing as it is with some other kanji. But we must be prepared to accept that fact that not all kanji can be explained logically.

  1. The kanji 防 “to prevent; defend”

History of Kanji 防For the kanji 防, the ten style sample (the middle one) had a kozatohen on the left and the kanji 方 on the right. The 方 was used phonetically to mean something that went sideways. An alternative ten style in Setsumon (the left one) had 土 “soil” at the bottom to emphasize “dirt.” Together they signified a high dirt wall on all sides to prevent an enemy from coming in. The kanji 防 meant “to prevent; defend.” The kun-yomi /huse’gu/ means “to prevent.” The on-yomi /bo’o/ is in 防止 (“prevention” /booshi/), 予防 (“preventive” /yoboo/) and 防衛 (“defense”/booee/).

History of Kanji 方(frame)The kanji 方 — There are many different views on the origin of 方. One is that it was a hoe with a long handle and that the handle pointing on either side and the pole at the top and the bottom together signified “four directions.” A different direction is an “option.” Four directions make a “square.” Another view is a little disturbing. It was a body that was hanged in a public display. As I look at the oracle bone style (a) and bronze ware style samples (b), I am beginning to see how they were explained that way. The sideways line with two short lines at the end is very similar to the origins of the kanji 央 ”center,” and the shape in the center looks like a person viewed from the side. Why did a hanging dead body in a public display mean “direction”?  Shirakawa explained that it was placed at the boundaries of surrounding barbarian countries, thus denoting various directions. When the explanation goes to mystic ancient customs, there is no way for us to judge it. So i leave it as it is. The kanji 方 means “direction; option; square.”

  1. The kanji 険 “danger”

History of Kanji険%0D%0D 険%0D%0DHistory of Kanji 険For the kanji 険, the right side in ten style was an interesting shape – under a cover there were two sets of a box and a person placed side by side. The kyujitai, in blue, retained those elements (僉) in any of the kanji that took this shape (検剣験倹). It is explained as people grading goods under a cover, signifying “to examine; check,” or “people listening to an order of the god” (from the kanji 命). It was used phonetically in many kanji. It is true in the kanji 険 that a kozatohen “mountain; hills,” phonetically used on the right right side together meant “perilous; danger.”

The kun-yomi 険しい /kewashii/ means “steep; challenging; grim.” The on-yomi /ke’n/ is in 危険 (“dangerous” /kikenna/), 保険 (“insurance” /hoken/) and 陰険な (”sly; double-dealing” /inkenna/).

History of Kanji 剣(frame)The kanji 剣– I was curious about where the right side of the kanji 険 came from. The kanji 検 験 and 倹 came in ten style only, but the kanji 剣 “bayonet; sword” came in bronze ware style, as shown on the right. The left sample consisted of a roof at the top, two people at the bottom and a shape in the middle, which I cannot recall seeing elsewhere. (I have a feeling that I will come across it one day) In the second bronze ware style sample the left side was minerals buried in mine. The right side had the same component of ten style, but the curious thing is that the feet of the people were tied together. No semantic explanation on these can be found in references. So, this did not help us much to understand the origin of the right side of the kanji 険, 検, 験, 倹, and the left side of 剣. The shared pronunciation /ken/ in Japanese tells us that it was used phonetically in those kanji, but I would certainly like to know what happened before that.

  1. The kanji 際 “peripheral; edge”

History of Kanji 際In ten style the kanji 際 had a kozatohen “boundary” and the kanji 祭 “festival” that was used phonetically for /sa’i/. It meant “edge; peripheral.”

The kun-yomi 際 /kiwa’/ means “boundary; peripheral” and is in 際どい (“dangerous; bordering on the immoral” /kiwado’i/). /GIwa/ is in 窓際 (“window side” /madogiwa/), 〜瀬戸際 ( “the critical moment of doing” /setogiwa/). The on-yomi /sa’i/ is in 国際的 (“international” /kokusaiteki/) and 交際 (“acquaintance; relationship” /koosai/).

History of Kanji 祭(frame)The kanji  The origin of the kanji 祭 has no relationship in meaning with the kanji 際, but it reminds us what a festival was about. In oracle bone style (a) and (b) it contained a hand and a piece of meat (in a reverse position), and droplets of sake in the middle. It was sacrificial animal meat being sanctified with sake. A sacrificial animal played an important role in ancient Chinese society, including a cow, sheep, pig and dog. In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, an altar table was added. A festival was a prayer to a god and a celebration of him. The kanji 祭 means “festival.”

  1. The kanji 障 “to block; hinder”

History of Kanji 障For the kanji 障, the ten style sample had a mountain or stack of dirt on the left, and the right side was the kanji 章, which was used phonetically for /sho’o/ to mean “fence.” Together they meant “to block; hinder.”

The kun-yomi 障る /sawaru/ means “to interfere with; irritating” and is in 差し障り (“adverse effect; obstacle” /sashisawari/). /zawa/ is in 目障りな (“offensive to the eye” /meza’warina).  The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 故障する (“to break down” /koshoo-suru/). 障害 (“hindrance; obstacle” /shoogai/) and 障子 (“shoji paper screen” /shoji/).

History of Kanji 章(frame)The kanji The kanji 章 and 障 are not semantically related. Our reader may find the origin of 章 a little surprising, shown on the right. It was a pictograph, i.e., the entire shape was a single image. The image was a tattooing needle with a big handle at the top and a large ink reservoir in the middle. The needle tattooed a pattern clearly and distinctly, and it signified something that was drawn or written beautifully, such as a badge, chapter, etc. The kanji 章 means “badge; chapter.”

  1. Additional notes on the kanji 隣 “neighbor”

History of Kanji 隣 (frame)In the four postings we have looked at kanji that had the shape . When this shape appeared on the right it meant “village” and was called a bushu oozato, whereas when it appeared on the left side it meant “mountain; hills; ladder; soil stacked up high,” and was called a bushu kozatohen. Generally the side on which it appeared was so important that they never switched their positions. There is a possible exception to this. That is the kanji 隣 [One Foot at a Time (4) 傑燐憐隣 – Two feet off the ground posted on July 28, 2014] The kyujitai for 隣 was 鄰 with a oozato. Many treat 隣 with a kozatohen as “informal variant.” Shirakawa gave samples of bronze ware style, as shown on the right (a) and (b), and said that 隣 was the correct writing. Sample (b) is convincing, but I cannot find the same shape in Akai or other references. So for the time being, we can imagine that onibi in a mountain or hills was used phonetically for “neighborhood; people live in a cluster,” and a village was added to solidify the meaning.

We have spent a lot of time in the last four posts to poke around kanji that have a oozato and kozatohen. We can expect similar findings in other kanji that we did not look at, such as 隙 隆 陥 among the Joyo kanji. We continue our exploration of ancient writing that originated from human habitat. Maybe we should revisit the bushu shinnyoo/shinnyuu, which had the two elements “footprint” and “crossroad” coalesced into one bushu. Thank you very much for your interest. -Noriko   [November 29, 2015]

The Kanji 阪反坂陳東陛比階皆完院—こざとへん(2)


Two three-trianglesWe are looking at kanji with a kozatohen, keeping in mind that each may have originated from three different meanings and, possibly, shapes. Ochiai (2014) gave two different original shapes of a kozatohen in which the three triangles were placed differently – one with a horizontal line at the top (for a “ladder”), and the other with a peak of each of three triangles being in the center if you look at them sideways (for “mountains; hills”). He said that these two shapes converged into one. We have also seen the third meaning, “a stack of soil raised high.” Over the last couple of weeks as I looked at these three different shapes and meanings, they started to mingle together and the lines among them became blurred in my mind. A ladder suggests something “high.” A ladder could be flights of dirt stairs. An undulating line of mountains or hills suggests ground that is high and low. Hills are mounds of soil, etc. Keeping all these – a ladder, stairs, mountains/hills, high ground- in mind – we move on to look at more kanji.

  1. The kanji 阪 and 反

History of Kanji 阪For the kanji 阪, the left side of the bronze ware style, in green, would be a good candidate for the interpretation “hills placed vertically.” It gave the meaning that is something to do with soil. The right side 反 is a familiar shape in many kanji, such as 反阪坂返板叛版, all of which have the sound /ha’n/ or /he’n/, and form semantic-phonetic composite kanji.  Let us look at the kanji 反 first.

History of Kanji 反 (frame)The Kanji 反: In the Key to Kanji I explained that it was “a hand pushing back a piece of cloth, indicating ‘to push back, to roll back or to reverse.’” The Kadokawa dictionary, Kanjigen and Shin-Kangorin (2011) all take this view. The history of the kanji 反 is shown on the right. Now looking at the earlier shapes in oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, I wonder if the upper left shape really looks like a hanging cloth. Usually the upper left (), a bushu gandare in kanji, is viewed as a “cliff.” If we take it as a “cliff,” what does “a hand under or against a cliff” mean?  Shirakawa’s explanation is that putting hands against a sacred area to climb in was sacrilege or disrespect, thus it meant “against.” I need to see more examples for this view to make sense. So, in the mean time, I just leave my explanation in the book as it is.

Now back to the kanji 阪. The left side looks like undulating hill lines. The right side was used phonetically for /han/ and signified “against; to turn back.”  A landscape that would push a person against going forward was a “slope.” The kanji 阪 means “slope.”

The kun-yomi /saka’/ is in 大阪 (“Osaka city; the minor prefecture (府) of Osaka” /oosaka/) and 大阪弁 (“Osaka dialect” /oosakaben/).  The on-yomi /ha’n/ is in 阪神地方 (“Osaka and Kobe area” /ha’nshin-chi’hoo/).

History of Kanji 坂The kanji 坂 “slope”: In Japanese for the kanji that means “slope” we use the kanji 坂, with a bushu tsuchihen (土) “soil.” The kanji 坂 is newer kanji and was not included in Setsumon Kaiji. But, interestingly, Akai (2010) gave the bronze ware style sample shown on the right. (I do not know from which source this shape was taken.) It had a cliff with a slight bulge in the middle for an emphasis, soil (土) at the bottom, and a hand (又) on the right side. The image may be a person trying to climb a cliff putting his hands against it.

  1. The kanji 陳 “to display; state; old”

History of Kanji 陳For the kanji 陳, the two bronze ware style samples on the left had a kozatohen. and what would become the kanji 東, which originally meant “a bag of stuff or dirt tied at both ends.” (We are coming back to this in a second.) In the first bronze ware style sample, the shape on the far right was a bushu bokuzukuri (攵) “to do; cause an action”( from a hand moving a stick.) In the second sample, the bottom was “soil” (土). Together they meant displaying bags of stuff or soil tied on the both ends. From this meaning we interpret the kozatohen in this kanji to mean a stack of dirt (– unless we take the view that bags of soil were placed in front of the divine ladder).

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /chi’n/ is in 陳列棚 (“display shelf” /chinretsu’dana/), 陳述 (“statement; declaration” /chinjutu/), 陳情する (“to make representation against or for; lodge a petition” /chinjoo-suru/), 陳腐な (“stale; ready-made phrase”/chi’npuna).

History of Kanji 東(frame)The kanji 東: Taking the explanation given in Setsumon 2000 years ago, the kanji 東 has often been explained as the sun coming through a tree, thus “east.” But now with abundant samples in oracle bone and bronze ware style scholars generally agree that it was a bag of stuff that was tied on two ends. The three lines at the top and the bottom were the ends of a tied rope. The meaning “east” for 東 was a borrowing. When used as a component the original meaning was retained, as is always the case in bushu. The meaning of “a bag of heavy stuff that was tied on both ends” was in the origin of many other kanji such as 重 “heavy,” 動 “to move” and 童 “child,” just to name a few. I hope to have a chance to look at ancient writing samples for those kanji in the near future.

  1. The kanji 陛 “His majesty”

History of Kanji 陛The next two kanji 陛 and 階 have been discussed in the earlier post [The Kanji 人仁従縦比皆階陛 – Posture (3) on March 28, 2015] in connection with “person,” In this post we look at 陛 and 階 as the examples of a kozatohen to mean “steps; stairs.” In 陛, the right side had 比 “people standing in a row” and 土 “ground.” The subjects were standing in neatly formed rows in front of the stairs that lead to where the emperor was. The kanji 陛 is used only to refer to the royal head of a state. For sample words, please refer to the earlier post.

History of Kanji 比(frame)The kanji 比 – The upper right component of the kanji 陛 was well documented from oracle bone time, as shown on the right. They were all two people standing, one behind the other. Two means “many.” When two people faced backward it became the kanji 比 “to compare,” whereas when they faced left it became 従 “to follow.”

  1. The kanji 階

History of Kanji 階The kozatohen in the kanji 階 really signified exactly the same meaning as the kanji 陛. The origin of the shape, whether “soil stacked up high” or a “ladder,” gave the meaning of having different levels within. Flights of a staircase or steps to walk up were a good match for a kozatohen. The kanji 階 had 皆 “many; everybody,” which was used phonetically for /ka’i/. A kozatohen gave the meaning “stairs; gradation; story” to the kanji 階. We are seeing a clear-cut illustration of the important fact about a bushu and tsukuri (the right side of kanji) in kanji here – A bushu gives meaning and a tsukuri gives sound.

History of Kanji 皆(frame)The kanji 皆. In the earlier post I mentioned that the bottom of the kanji 皆 was from 自 “self,” and also that there is a view that it was 曰 “to talk.” I do not have anything new that makes me choose one over the other now, but now I am inclined to think that both must be correct. The ten style sample may be 自 (白) from a nose on the face, but the bronze ware style was 曰 (“to talk” /e’tsu/ in on-yomi and /i’waku/ in kun-yomi.) During the last two years of our exploration of the etymology of kanji on this blog site, we have seen that components of ancient writing got lost, added, or replaced over the years. In the kanji 皆, both interpretations of the bottom may be right. Even though 曰 is not among the Joyo kanji, it is used in expressions such as 彼曰く (“according to what he said” /ka’re i’waku/”) and 曰く付きの悪者 (“a villain with the past” /iwakutsuki-no-warumono/). For the kanji 皆, from many people talking, it meant “everyone; all.”

  1. The kanji 院 “institution”

History of Kanji 院The right side of the kanji 院 is the kanji 完. History of Kanji 完(frame)In the absence of writing that was earlier than ten style for 院 shown on the left, I hoped to find earlier shape in the kanji 完. But my search came up empty-handed — the kanji 完 only had a ten style sample too. But there was a difference that, in the ten style sample of 完, the walls of the house, a bushu ukanmuri, reached the floor. So, 元 “a person with a big head kneeling down with his hand in front” was entirely wrapped in the safety of the inside the house. The kanji 完 meant “entire; complete.”

Now we go back to the ten style of the kanji 院. 完 was used phonetically (it is not easy for us to see that /kan/ and /in/ shared the same phonetic origin, but that seems to be the finding by kanji scholars). What would a kozatohen add to the kanji 完, then? It is the soil that was stacked high to surround a person in the house. A dirt-walled house with people inside means a “large public house; institution.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /i’n/ is in 病院 (“hospital” /byooin/), 入院する (“to become hospitalized” /nyuuin-suru/), 医院 (“physician’s private practice office” /i’in/), 上院 (“the Upper House; the Senate” /jooin/) and 下院 (“the Lower House; the House of Representatives” /kain/) and 大学院 (“graduate school” /daigaku’in/).

I was not able to squeeze in a few more kanji with a kozatohen here. So there will be one more post on a kozatohen. For our readers who keep the American tradition – A Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and your family!  -Noriko [November 22, 2015 ]

The Kanji 阜降陟陽陰今雲隊陸ーこざとへん(1)


The name ko-zato-hen may appear to allude that it is “a smaller (小 /ko/) version of oo (大)-zato that was placed on the left side (扁 /he’n/).” Even though it is true that it is a left component and is usually written smaller than an oozato out of necessity (cramped space in the middle), the name misses the important point — its meaning. We know tha kozatohen is nothing to do with “village.” Then what did it mean originally?

The most reliable way to find out is to look at oracle bone style samples and earlier samples of bronze ware style. This is not that easy because the number of oracle bone style samples available to us is limited and it is hard to decide which writings were the precursors of kozatohen. We know that the kanji that is closest to a bushu kozatohen is 阜. We are going to see that there were three different origins for 阜 or kozatohen – (A) a ladder; (B) a mountains or hills that were placed vertically; and (C) a pack of dirt raised high.

  1. Three meanings of the kanji 阜 and bushu kozatohen

History of Kanji 阜 and bushu kozatohen白川The three different views on what a kozatohen originally signified can be summarized as follows:

[A. A ladder] For the kanji 阜 /hu/ and a bushu kozatohen, Shirakawa (2004: 767) gave three oracle bone style writings (a), (b) and (c), in brown, and one ten style sample (d), in red, as shown on the left. In his analysis all the kanji that had a kozatohen was explained as having “a ladder from which a god descended.” Other kanji scholars suggested it as a ladder, without reference to a god.

阜two shapes & meanings[B. A mountain or hills] This explanation was found in the account in Setsumon. It was the image of a mountain range or hills that was placed vertically. According to Ochiai (2014) there originally existed two different shapes and meanings, as shown on the right. (a) was a “ladder” and (b) was a “mountain,” but the distinction got lost later on. Ochiai has dealt with a large pool of oracle bone style writings, so I assume that he came to this conclusion based on them. Even though I was not able to find any example of (b) among oracle bone style writings that I collected from Akai (2010), some bronze ware style samples may be interpreted as (b).

History of Kanji 阜 and kozatohen 赤井[C. A pack of dirt or soil raised high]  The third meaning is what the samples listed in Akai shown on the right signified — two oblong shapes stacked up. (The shapes (a), (b) and (c) appear in other kanji and are interpreted differently.  We will look at these shapes at a later time.) The Kanjigen dictionary by Todo and et. al. took the view that a kozatohen came from “round shaped dirt that were piled up.” In the Key to Kanji, I used this explanation in some kanji.

Now we are going to look individually at kanji with a kozatohen.

  1. The kanji 降 “to come/bring down; fall” and 陟 “to move ahead; progress”

History降rThe kanji 降 was discussed earlier in connection with two downward-facing feet (a right and left foot) [in One Foot at a Time (1) 後夏降麦来­ on July 5, 2014]. We revisit this kanji with a focus on a kozatohen here. This time I also came across a good companion kanji to tell a story of the kanji 降. History of Kanji 陟(frame)On the right side is the history of the kanji 陟 /cho’ku/, a kanji that is no longer used in Japanese, but meant “to climb up.” The right side of 陟 was 步, the kyujitai for 歩, which originated from two forward-facing (or upward-facing) footprints. In contrast the right side of the kanji 降 had two downward-facing footprints. So the difference is that one (陟) was two feet of a person climbing up the ladder whereas the other (降) was two feet of climbing down. I find this contrast very amusing. The kanji 降 has many meanings — please read the earlier post.

  1. The kanji 陽 “sunny; cheerful; positive”

History of Kanji 陽For the kanji 陽 in oracle bone style the left side was “mountains” (Kadokawa dictionary) or a ladder for a god (Shirakawa). In oracle bone style (a), the top of the right side 昜 was “the sun” and the bottom was a “raised altar table,” together signifying “the sun rising high.” Both sides together, “the sun rising high and hitting the mountains” meant “being bright with the sun.” In bronze ware style the line in (b) and the three slanted lines in (c) were the rays of the sun. In ten style (d), the left side became the stylized shape that appeared in all ten style kozatohen. In kanji (e), the kozatohen is squeezed into a narrower space, and the first two strokes become smaller than a oozato, thus ko-zato-hen. The kanji 陽 means “sunny; cheerful; positive.”

There is no kun-yomi in the Joyo kanji. However, it is customarily used interchangeably with the kanji 日 in words such as 陽当たり (“exposure to the sun” /hiatari/) and 陽だまり (“sunny spot” /hidamari/). The on-yomi /yo’o/ is in 太陽 (“the sun” /ta’iyoo/), 陽気な (“cheerful; jovial“ /yookina/), 陽性 (“testing positive; infected” /yoosee/).

History of Kanji 場The kanji 場 “place”: The component 昜 “to rise high” also appears in the kanji 場. The left side was a mound of soil or ground (土). 昜 was phonetically used. Both sides together they meant a place where the sun shined. The meaning of a sunny place became expanded to mean a “place” in general. The ten style of 場 is shown on the right. As we can see the kanji 陽 had oracle bone style and bronze ware style whereas 場 did not. It tells us that the kanji 場 was a kanji that appeared much later than 陽.

History of Kanji 傷The kanji 傷 “injury”: The kanji 傷 (/kizu/ “injury and /sho’o/ in on-yomi) is among the educational kanji, so let us look at it in connection with 昜. In ten style and kanji it consists of a ninben “person” and a cover on top of 昜 “rays of the sun; bright.” Many scholars view that 昜 was used purely phonetically and has no relation to its original meaning. On the other hand Shirakawa explained that 昜 consisted of a jewel placed on a table that emitted rays. The top of the right side of 傷 was a cover over the jewel. The cover prevented the power of the jewel to work in a religious rite, thus “harm; damage.” With a ninben, it meant an injury on a person.

This account is typical of Shirakawa’s study which is deeply rooted in occultism or magic arts that he believed was pervasive in the time when kanji originated. According to Ochiai, occultism or magic arts were performed in some religious rites in the ancient times, but whether they were pervasive as Shirakawa claimed remains to be proven.

4. The kanji 陰 “shadow; shade; gloomy; wily”

History of Kanji 陰The kanji that makes a contrast with 陽 is the kanji 陰. The two kanji make up the widely recognizable phrase, even in the west, “ying and yang” 陰陽. We notice that both have a kozatohen. The history of the kanji 陰 is shown on the left. In the two bronze ware style samples the left sides showed very different shapes of a kozatohen. The right side consisted of a “cover” above a “cloud.” With mountains on the left side (kozatohen), 陰 meant the dark side of mountain where clouds covered. It means “shadow; shade; gloomy; wily.”

The kun-yomi /ka’ge/ means “shade; shelter; the back; shade; background.” The on-yomi /i’n/ is in 陰気な (“gloomy; dreary; dark”/inkina/), 陰影のある (“having shading; nuance”/in-eenoa’ru/) 陰険な (“tricky ; wily; underhand” /inkenna/)

History of Kanji 今(frame)The kanji 今 and 雲 () The right side of the kanji 陰 consisted of two kanji, 今 and cloud 云. The kanji 今 means “present time” now, but it was borrowed from the shape that was “a cover or stopper/plug of a bottle”.

History of Kanji 雲(frame)For the kanji 雲 “cloud,” the two oracle bone style samples shown on the right were the mirror images of each other in which a cloud was rising. The shape in gray on the right was given in Setsumon as a 古文. In ten style, a bushu amekanmuri “rain; meteorological phenomenon” was added. The kanji 雲 means “cloud.”

  1. The kanji 隊 “band of people”

History of Kanji 隊For the kanji 隊 in bronze ware style, (a) had a kozatohen, while (b) did not. The right side was a fat pig with big ears. Shirakawa viewed that the pig was a sacrificial animal placed in front of a ladder for a god. He cited that in Setsumon there was no 隊 but 墜 was used. 墜 had soil (土) at the bottom and meant “falling from a high place to the ground.” In other views, including the Kadokawa dictionary and Kanjigen, a pig was used phonetically and meant something bulky and heavy like a pig. A “band of people” was an extended meaning.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ta’i/ is in 軍隊 (“military” /gu’ntai/), 隊長 (“leader of a party” /taichoo/), 入隊する (“to join the military/band” /nyuutaisuru/), 捜索隊 (“search party” /soosakutai/).

  1. The kanji 陸 “land”

History of Kanji 陸For the kanji 陸 we have three samples of bronze ware style here. The shapes of a kozatohen in (a) and (b) may be appropriate to view as mountains or hills (placed vertically), whereas in (c) it is hard to see mountains in the shape. In (b) the mountain shape appeared on both sides. Then what was the right side in (a) and (c) or the middle in (b)?  In The Key to Kanji I treated them as “two tent-like structures and a mound of earth.” I based this on (c) with Shirakawa’s account in mind. In the absence of a better explanation, we can leave it as it is. The kanji 陸 means “land.”

There is another explanation for the right side given by Kanjigen. The right side is treated as a semantic composite of 土 “two soils” and 八 “to spread.” Together with a kozatohen, 陸 meant “a continuous land.” This explanation would have an appeal if you only looked at the kanji, but it does not explain any of the bronze ware style samples we have here. This is one of the reasons I have not used Kanjigen as primary source for so far. Their basic premise of etymology seems to be in the earlier pronunciation but not that of the ancient times. Their explanation sometimes does not go farther back to the time of oracle bone style or some of bronze ware style, which we are interested in our exploration.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /riku/ is in 陸 “land” 大陸 (“continent” /tairiku/), 着陸 (“landing; touchdown” /chakuriku/), 離陸 (“aircraft taking off” /ririku), 陸橋 (“bridge over railroad or roadway” overpass” /rikkyoo/).

It is already page 3 now. I had better stop here because there are more kanji with kozatohen. We will see how the rest goes in the next post. [November 14, 2015]

The Kanji 邑都者郡君群部郵郷–おおざと


Bushuおおざと&こざとへんBushu Oozato and Kozatohen: The two three-stroke bushu oozato and kozatohen look very much alike or even identical in kanji. The only difference is the position – An oozato appears on the right side whereas a kozatohen appears on the left side (thus, /-hen/). The two bushu, however, came from very different origins, as shown in the samples of the oldest style, oracle bone style (甲骨文), in brown on the left.

A bushu oozato means “village,” and kozatohen means “stack of dirt; a hill; stairs; ladder.” When you look at a traditional kanji dictionary, you find kanji with oozato in a seven-stroke bushu group, with 邑 attached. On the other hand kanji with kozatohen are found among eight-stroke bushu kanji, with 阜 attached. It is in only more recently published kanji dictionaries that both oozato and kozatohen are found among three-stroke bushu. In this post we are going to look at some kanji that have a bushu oozato (邑), and in the next two posts we are going to look at those with a bushu kozatohen (阜偏).

  1. The kanji 邑 “village” and the bushu oozato

History of Kanji 邑 (and Bushu Oozato)The kanji 邑 (/yu’u/ in on-yomi; /mura’/ in kun-yomi) and a bushu oozato share the same origin. The history of the kanji 邑 was well-documented, as shown on the left. In oracle bone style (a), in brown, the square at the top signified an area or a wall surrounding a town, and the bottom was a person who was kneeling, just a person. Together an area where people were meant “village.” In the three bronze ware style samples (b), (c) and (d), in green, we can see how a simplification took place. (d) showed a close connection to the current shape of an oozato. Then in ten style (e), in red, it went back to the shape in which the two original components, an area and a kneeling person, became more recognizable. The bottom shape in (e) in ten style became 巴 in kanji (f). We have seen that a kneeling person undergoing the same development ended up in the shape 卩, a bush hushizukuri, in the earlier post [The Kanji 令命印即節迎仰昂抑- Posture (6) ふしづくり on April 18, 2015]. The kanji 邑 (f) is not a Joyo kanji. When used as a bushu the simplification took place even in bronze ware style time, as we see in (d), and it ended up the current three-stroke shape. The ground work done, now we are ready to look at some kanji that have a bushu oozato.

  1. The kanji 都 “capital; all”

History of Kanji 都For the kanji 都, we have two samples in bronze ware style here, (a) and (b). The explanation of the left side of these two shapes may be a little peculiar until you see the same shape 者 repeatedly in other kanji. The top was many twigs or wooden writing tablets gathered, and the bottom was a stove to burn them. I imagine that the scattered dots in (b) must be sparks of a fire. Gathering many twigs and things signified “many,” and was used phonetically. The right side was an area and a person, which signified a “village.” The right side of (b) had the same shape as (d) in the kanji 邑 in 1. From “an area where many people live,” it meant “capital” and also “all.”

The kun-yomi 都 /miyako/ means “capital.” The on-yomi /to/ is in 都会 (“city; big town” /tokai/), 都心 (“urban core; heart of city” /toshin/). 都 /to/ is also the  metropolitan jurisdiction, as in 東京都 (“Tokyo metropolis” /tookyo’oto/). There is another on-yomi /tsu/, which is a go-on, and is in 都合がいい (“convenient” /tsugoo-ga i’i/), 都合が悪い (“to have a schedule conflict” /tsugoo-ga waru’i/), and その都度 (“every time; whenever” /sonotsu’do/.)

History of Kanji 者 (frame)The Kanji 者– The left side of the kanji 都 also appears in a number of kanji, including 者・緒・諸・署・暑・著. The history of 者 is shown on the right. In bronze ware style, the top was sticks or things such as writing tablets gathered, and the bottom was a stove to burn them. The meaning as “person” for 者 was borrowed. In fact in most kanji, this shape was merely used phonetically and had little correspondence to the original meaning. I do wonder if the extra dot in the kyujitai 者, in blue, was a remnant of a spark. All of the kyujitai for 者 as a component had a dot in the middle.

  1. The kanji 郡 “county”

For the kanji 郡, we only have a ten style sample. The left side is the kanji 君. Because the kanji 君 has fuller samples, let us look at 君 first.

History of Kanji 君 (frame)The kanji 君 “lord; you”— In oracle bone style, (a), the top was a hand holding a stick to command, and the bottom was a mouth, signifying “speaking.” Together they originally signified a “tribal chief.” In bronze ware style, in (b) a hand and a stick appeared to coalesce and are hard to make out, but in (c) a hand and a stick were recognizable. In ten style (d), the commanding stick became longer. Someone whose words command people to follow means “lord; sovereign.” It is also used as suffix in addressing someone who is equal or junior to you by a male speaker.

History of Kanji 郡Now back to the kanji 郡. In ten style, the left side 君 was a “chief” or “lord.” The right side had an area with a person or people, which signified a village. Together they signified “an area where a local lord 君 governs.” From that it means a smaller jurisdiction or “county.” In Japan, 郡 /gu’n/ is a consolidation of 町 (“town” /machi’/) and 村 (“village” /mura’/) under the supervision of 県 (“prefecture” /ke’n) and does not have a legal power. There are one 都 /to/ (which is the Tokyo motropolis), forty three 県 /ke’n/, two 府 /hu/ (Osaka and Kyoto 大阪府 京都府) and one 道 /do’o/ (Hokkaido 北海道). In school, children are taught to recite 1都1道2府43県 /i’tto ichi’doo ni’hu yo’njuu sa’nken/ in the order of the size of the jurisdiction 都道府県 /todoohu’ken/.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 郡 /gu’n/ means “county,” and is also in 郡部 (“rural district” /gu’nbu.)

History of Kanji 群 (frame)The kanji 群 — Since we have just seen the kanji 郡 with 君, we add another kanji that contains 君– 群. The top of two bronze ware style samples on the right were the same as (b) for 君, and was used phonetically. It originally was a hand holding a stick and a mouth underneath. The bottom was “sheep.” Sheep stay in a flock, and it signified “to flock.” The kanji 群 meant “group; throng; herd; flock.”

  1. The kanji 部 “part; section”

History of Kanji 部For the kanji 部, the left side was used phonetically to mean “to divide.” The right side had an area and a person, that is, a village. Together they signified “to divide a village into parts.” From that it meant “part; portion” of a whole or “department; section” of a larger organization.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /he/ is in 部屋 (“room” /heya’/) and it was a go-on. Another on-yomi /bu/, in kan-on,  is in 全部 (“all” /ze’nbu/), 部分 (“part; portion” /bu’bun/), 本部 (“headquarters” /ho’nbu/), 学部 (“academic department” /gakubu/). We cannot forget the important word for us, 部首 /bu’shu/. In the first most comprehensive compilation of kanji, Setsumon Kaiji (説文解字), completed in 100 A. D., all kanji were grouped into sections that shared the same component. The section was 部 “section” and its heading was 首 “head”- thus the word 部首 /bu’shu/ in Japanese, bushou in Chinese. It means “section header” of a kanji dictionary. Because a shared  component is something that does not change like a root in some European languages it has been traditionally translated as “radical,” which means “root.” Personally I prefer to stick to the word bushu because it is what it means, “a section header in a kanji dictionary.”

  1. The kanji 郵 “postal service”

History of Kanji 郵For the kanji 郵, the left side 垂 had the meaning “frontier; peripheral area.” The right side was an area and a person, signifying “village.” Together they signified “postings along the road to the frontier that a messenger passed.” It meant “post; postal service.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /yu’u/ is in 郵便 (“postal service” /yu’ubin/), 郵送する (“to send by mail” /yuusoosuru/), 郵便局 (“post office” /yuubi’nkyoku/), 郵便番号 (“postal code” /yuubinba’ngoo/), which works like a zip code in the U. S., and 郵便受け (“mail box” /yuubi’n-uke/).

  1. The kanji 郷 “hometown”

History of Kanji 郷For the kanji 郷, in oracle bone style (a) it had two people sitting, facing each other with food in a bowl in the middle. It signified a “feast.” In bronze ware style (b) and (c) the components were the same. In ten style, however, above each of the two people, an area was added making it to 邑 “village” in mirror images. In the center was the shape we see in the kanji 食 “food in a bowl” (食 has a cover over the food).  So, in ten style “feast” seemed to have expanded to the whole village! Having a feast for people was an important event for a village. It meant “hometown.” I like the story behind those ancient writings from (a) through (d) much better than just a sort of confusing shape of the kanji 郷.

The on-yomi /kyo’o/ is in 故郷 (“one’s hometown” /ko’kyoo/), 郷土 (“homeland” /kyo’do/), 郷里 (“hometown” /kyo’ori/). Another on-yomi /go’o/ is in 郷士 (“squire” /go’oshi/) and 水郷 (“riverside district” /suigoo/). The word ふるさと (“hometown” /huru’sato/) is sometimes written as 故郷.

StrokeOrderおおざとThe stroke order of oozato and kozatohen is unusual, or “counter intuitive” as my former students used to complain in their kanji quizzes. The vertical line is the last stroke, as shown on the left.  In the next two posts, we are going to look at kanji with a kozatohen. [November 8, 2015]