The Kanji 米粉粗粋類糧粒糖粘-こめへん


In this post we are going to look at kanji that contain米 “rice”– 米粉粗粋類糧粒糖粘. The kanji 米was briefly touched upon earlier in connection with 田 “rice paddies” [The kanji 略各当(當)尚番米券巻 – 田 (2) on July 11, 2015]  Since it is important for this post, we are going to look at it again.

  1. The kanji 米 “rice”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b1%b3For the kanji 米 in oracle bone style, in brown, (a) was a stalk of a rice plant with grains still attached on both sides. (In 稲 bronze ware style had a similar shape inside a mortar.) A layout in which grains are scattered in four corners was seen in oracle bone style, as in (b), through ten style, in red. Setsumon included millet for this kanji. The kanji 米 meant “rice grains.”

The kun-yomi /kome’/ means “rice,” as (uncooked) grains, and is in 米作り (“rice farming” /komezu’kuri/), もち米 (“sweet sticky rice” /mochigome/) that is used for making rice cake. The on-yomi /ma’i/ is in 新米 (“first rice crop of a year; new member” /shinmai/) and 外米 (“imported rice” /gaimai/).  Another on-yomi /be’e/ is in 米国 (“the USA” /beekoku/), 親米派 (“pro-U. S. group” /shinbeeha/), 反米的 (“anti-American” /hanbeeteki/), 日米関係 (“Japane-U. S. relationship” /nichibeeka’nkee/).

Why is America written as 米国 (米國 in kyujitai) in Japanese while 美国 (美國) in traditional Chinese? If you look at old documents, for a short period, a quarter century in the mid-19th century, we see that kanji that were used for America varied. 亜墨利加 (in addition to アメリカ in katakana) was seen on the Japanese diagraph of the reception of Commodor Perry’s landing in 1853, 亜美理駕 in the Japanese translation of the President Millard Fillmore’s letter to the Tokugawa Shogun, 亜墨利加 in the Kanagawa Treaty between Japan and the U. S. in 1854, and 亜米利加 in the book by Yukichi Fukuzawa in 1876. So, for a stressed second syllable /-‘mer/ in |əˈmerikə| three different kanji, 墨, 美 and 米, were used. Japanese eventually settled on 米 while Chinese chose 美. Incidentally 墨 is used for Mexico, as in 米墨戦争 “Mexican American War. Which syllable has a stress is significant to foreigner’s ears. The word メリケン粉 (“wheat flour” /merikenko/) is an example of a word where the first unstressed syllable was dropped.

  1. The kanji 粉 “flour”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%89For the kanji 粉 in ten style, the right side 分 consisted of two hands diving something in two and a knife at the bottom, together signifying “to divide something into small pieces; disperse.” Grinding rice produces powder. The kanji 粉 meant “powder.”

The kun-yomi /kona’/ means “powder; flour,“ and is in 粉々の (usually written in hiragana) “shattered; fragmented” /konagona-no/). The on-yomi /ko/ is in 小麦粉 (“wheat flour” /komugiko/), 粉末 (“powder” /hunmatsu/), 花粉 (“pollen” /kahun/) and 粉砕する (“to reduce to powder; smash to pieces” /hunsai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 粗 “coarse; unsophisticated; porous”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%97For the kanji 粗, the right side 且 was used only phonetically for /so/ to mean “rough.” Together with the left side they meant “unpolished rice; brown rice.” From that the kanji 粗 meant “coarse; crude; poor quality.”

The kun-yomi 粗い /arai/ means “coarse; porous,” and can be used for words that are usually written in hiragana such as 粗筋 (“outline; summary” /arasuzi/) and 粗捜し /arasa’gashi/) or あらさがし “nit-picking; faultfinding.” The on-yomi /so/ is in 粗末な (“coarse; humble” /so’matsu-na/), 粗品 (“small present” /soshina/), 粗相 (“oversight; carelessness” /so’soo/), 粗忽者 (“careless person; an absentminded person” /sokotsumono/), 粗野な (“rustic; vulgar” /so’ya-na/) and 粗食 (“frugal meal; plain food” /soshoku/).

  1. The kanji 粋 “chic; smart; refined”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%8bFor the kanji 粋 in ten style the right side was used phonetically. Together with the left side it meant something “pure.” The kyujitai, in blue, reflected the ten style on the right side but in shinjitai it became the combination of 九 and 十. (I do not have a good explanation for this at the moment.) In Japanese, the kanji 粋 is used as “smartness; chic; refined.”

The kun-yomi /iki/ is in 粋な (“chick; sophisticated; high spirited” /ikina/). as in 粋な帯 (“chic obi; smart obi” /ikinao’bi/), 粋な計らい (“nice touch” /ikina-hakarai/). The on-yomi /sui/ is in 純粋な (“pure” /junsui-na/), 抜粋 (“excerpts” /bassui/) and 無粋な (“lacking in polish; unromantic” /busui-na/).

  1. The kanji 類 “kind; sort”

history-of-kanji-%e9%a1%9eFor the kanji 類 in ten style the left side had 米 “rice” and 犬 “dog,” and the right side had 頁 “a man with a formal headdress; head.” [For 頁 please refer to the earlier post: Kanji Radical 頁おおがい-順顔頭願 on November 15, 2014.] How do we interpret these three items to reach the meaning “sort; kind; variety”? Setsumon explained that there were many kinds of dogss and from that it meant “kind.” Shirakawa wrote that rice and sacrificial dogs were offerings for a rite conducted by a person who wore a formal headdress (頁) and that the rite was called 類. In shinjitai, 犬 lost a short stroke and became 大.

The kun-yomi 類い /tagui/ means “type; sort; analogue” and is in 類いのない (“unique” /taguinona’i/). The on-yomi /ru’i/ is in 種類 (“kind” /shurui/), 人類 (“mankind; Homo sapience” /ji’nrui/), 書類 (“document” /shorui/), 分類する (“to classify; group; sort” /bunrui-suru/) and親類 (“relative; relation” /shinrui/).

  1. The kanji 糧 “food; provision”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b3%a7history-of-kanji-%e9%87%8f-frameThe right side of the kanji 糧 was 量, which we have looked at earlier, as shown on the right. It was a bag that was tied on both ends and had an opening at the top. It signified a scale to weigh a bag of grain. From the original meaning, the kanji 量 means “mass, amount.”

For the kanji 糧, the bronze ware style, in green, was a bag with an opening on top. The bottom could have been rice in four corners. Together it meant “food; provisions.” In ten style rice was added at the top and the right side was the same as the kanji 量. In kanji the top of the right side became 日, and the bottom was 里.

The kun-yomi 糧 /ka’te; kate/ means “food; provisions,” and is in 糧となる (“be nourishing for the future” /kate’-to-naru/). The on-yomi /ryo’o/ is in 食糧 (“food; provision” /shoku’ryoo/).

  1. The kanji 粒 “granule; particle”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%92For the kanji 粒, in Old style, in purple, it had 立 “a standing person” on the left, used phonetically, and the right side 食was food in a bowl with a cover. In ten style the left side was “rice” and the right side was 立. Together it meant “particle; grain.”

The kun-yomi /tsubu/ means “grain; particle,” and is in the counter for small particles such as 一粒 (“one piece” /hito’tsubu/) and 粒選りの (”handpicked; the choicest” /tsubuyori-no/). The on-yomi /ryu’u/ is in 微粒子 (“minute particle; a fine grain” /biryu’ushi/).

  1. The kanji 糖 “sugar”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b3%96For the kanji 糖, (a) and (b), both in ten style, looked totally dissimilar. In (a) the left was “food,” and the right side 易 was used phonetically for “sugar; candy.” (b) had rice on the left and the right side was used phonetically to mean “to stretch” in making candies out of sweet rice. Whichever the explanation is, the kanji 糖 meant “sugar.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 砂糖 (“sugar” /satoo/), 糖分 (“sugar-content” /to’obin/), 血糖値 (“blood sugar level” /ketto’ochi/), 角砂糖 (“cube sugar” /kakuza’too/) and 砂糖黍 (“sugar cane” /sato’okibi/).

  1. The kanji 粘 “sticky; glutinous”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%98For the kanji 粘, the left side was 黍 /kibi/ “millet.” Just a few posts ago we looked at this shape as the origin of the kanji 香. (The Kanji 私種程稲稿称香和歴暦-のぎへん(2) on September 4, 2016)  It signified grains that had a lot of moisture, which makes them glutinous. The right side 占 was used phonetically. Together it meant “sticky; glutinous.” In kanji the left side was replaced by 米.

The kun-yomi 粘る /neba’ru/ means “sticky; glutinous; persevere.” The on-yomi /ne’n/ is in 粘土 (“clay” /ne’ndo/), 粘着性 (“adhesion; stickiness” /nenchakusee/) and 粘膜 (“mucus membrance” /ne’nmaku/)

There are other kanji that have 米. Those whose 米 shapes come from other than “rice” include 隣 from “will‐o’‐the‐wisp“, 数 from hairstyle, 歯 from “teeth,” 断 and 継 from “bundles of threads on shelves.” The kanji that originated from animal paws (釆), such as 番奥釈翻藩, will be taken up when we look at kanji that came from animals. It will be a while to get there. Thank you very much for your interest.  – Noriko  [September 25, 2016]

The Kanji 竹笑簡策筋弟第符-たけかんむり


In this post we are going to look at kanji that contain a bushu takekanmuri “bamboo”– 竹笑簡策筋弟第符. After that we also take a look at kanji 支枝技伎岐, which some view as containing “bamboo branch.”

  1. The kanji 竹 “bamboo”

history-of-kanji-%e7%ab%b9For the kanji 竹, the bronze ware style writing was a pictograph of two bamboo stalks with pointed leaves drooping. It meant “bamboo.” The shape was stylized in ten style. A bamboo stalk has many uses for its strength, ease of obtaining materials and ease of crafting.

The kun-yomi /take/ means “bamboo,” and is in 竹細工 (“bamboo craft” /takeza’iku/) and 竹藪 (“bamboo thicket” /takeyabu/). The on-yomi /chiku/ is in 竹簡 (“bamboo writing tablets” /chikkan/). The expressions include 竹を割ったような (“straightforward; open-hearted” /take-o-watta-yo’o-na/), 破竹の勢い (“forceful initial thrust” /hachiku-no-ikio’i) and 竹馬の友 (“childhood friend” /chi’kuba-no to’mo/). 竹馬 as “a pair of stilts for a child to walk on” by itself is read in kun-yomi /takeuma/.

  1. The kanji 笑 “to smile; laugh”

history-of-kanji-%e7%ac%91For the kanji 笑 in ten style the top was two stalks of bamboo, which became a bushu takekanmuri. The bottom was a person swaying his or her head dancing with happiness and smiling. It meant “to smile.” Shirakawa’s view is the top as originally two hands upward in a trance, just as he views the bushu kusakanmuri in the kanji 若 as coming from two hands of a young woman dancing. On the other hand the Kadokawa dictionary takes the view that the old kanji (口 “mouth” on the left, and 夭 with a bushu kusakanmuri on top instead of a takekanmuri on the right) signified someone’s smiling mouth when the mouth was added to /shoo/.

The kun-yomi 笑う /warau/ means “to smile; laugh,” and is in 笑い声 (“laughter” /waraigo’e/), 笑い話 (“funny story” /waraiba’nashi/), ほほ笑む (“to smile” /hohoe’mu/), 苦笑いする (“to smile a wry smile” /nigawa’rai-o-suru/), 笑い顔を見せる (“to break into a smile” /waraigao-o mise’ru/). The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 爆笑する (/bakushoo-suru/) and 苦笑する (/kushoo-suru/ “to smile a wry smile”).

  1. The kanji 簡 “letter; simple and easy”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b0%a1For the kanji 簡 in ten style the bottom “a moon passing through a gap between two doors,” thus “duration; gap; space,” was 閒 (the kyuji for 間) and was used phonetically. (間 was discussed in the kanji 戸所門問間開閉関閣 – もんがまえ on August 1, 2015). With bamboo on top, 簡 meant “documents; letter.” Before paper was invented documents were written on bamboo tablets, or wooden tablets, which were strung together with strips of leather. Another meaning, “simple,” makes up a number of useful words but how it come from the original meaning is not very clear.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka’n/ is in 書簡 (“correspondence; letter” /shokan/), 簡単な (“simple and easy; brief” /kantan-na/), 簡素な (“simple; austere” /ka’nso-na/), 簡略化 (“simplification” /kanryakuka/) and 簡潔に (“succinctly” /kanketsu-ni/).

  1. The kanji 策 “strategy; measure”

history-of-kanji-%e7%ad%96For the kanji 策 in ten style the bottom 朿 was a “thorny long stick” and was used phonetically. With a bamboo on top they originally meant a “horsewhip.” Later it came to be used for 冊 “bound documents,” which came from bamboo or wooden writing tablets bound in a book form. Measures and plans were written on those writing tablets. From that it meant “plan; scheme.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sa’ku/ is in 対策 (“measure; counterplan” /taisaku/), 政策 (“policy” /seesaku/), 解決策 (“solution strategy” /kaiketsu’saku/), 策略 (“scheme; strategy” /sakuryaku/) and 策士 (“strategist; hustler” /sa’kushi/).

Other kanji that contain朿 — The original meaning “thorny long stick” for 朿 remains in the kanji 棘 (“thorn; splinter” /toge’/) and 刺す (“to stab; bite; sting” /sa’su/).

  1. The kanji 筋 “muscle; line”

history-of-kanji-%e7%ad%8bFor the kanji 筋 in ten style, the bottom by itself had “flesh” (月/肉) on the left and “muscle of a strong hand” (力) on the right. Together with the meaning “straight” that bamboo provided, they meant “tendon; muscle; fiber; string.” In Japanese it is also used to mean “reason; storyline.”

The kun-yomi 筋 /su’ji/ means “muscle; tendon; story,” and is in 道筋 (“route; reason” /michisuji/), 筋の通らない (“unreasonable” /su’ji-no toora’nai/), 血筋 (“blood; lineage” /chisuji/) and 背筋を伸ばす (“to straighten one’s spine” /sesuji-o noba’su/). The on-yomi /ki’n/ is in 筋肉 (“muscle” /ki’nniku/) and 鉄筋コンクリート (“steel reinforced concrete” /tekkinkonkuri’ito/).

  1. The kanji 弟 “younger brother”

history-of-kanji-%e5%bc%9fWe make a little detour to a kanji that does not have a takekanmuri – 弟. In oracle bone style and bronze ware style, it had a stake around which a leather strap was wrapped. The line at the bottom indicated something at the end. A younger brother was lower in the order of male siblings. It meant “younger brother.”

The kun-yomi 弟 /otooto/ means “younger brother.” The on-yomi /te’e/ is in 師弟 (“teacher and student” /shi’tee/) and 弟妹 (“younger siblings” /te’emai/). Other on-yomi are /dai/ in 兄弟 (“brothers; siblings” /kyo’odai/) and /de/ in 弟子 (“disciple” /deshi’/).

  1. The kanji 第 “order”

history-of-kanji-%e7%ac%acFor the kanji 第 in ten style it was the same as 弟. In kanji a bushu takekanmuri was added to indicate bamboo tablets. Bamboo tablets were bound in a good order with leather straps. From the order of bamboo tablets, it meant “order.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /dai/ is in 第一 (“the first” /da’iichi/), 第二次世界大戦 (the Second World War” /da’i ni’ji sekaita’isen/), 第三者 (“third party” /da’i sa’nsha/), 第一印象 (“first impression” /daiichii’nshoo/) and 次第に (“gradually; bit by bit” /shidai-ni/).

  1. The kanji 符 “tag; sign; mark”

history-of-kanji-%e7%ac%a6For the kanji符 in ten style the bottom 付 signified “a hand (on the right) giving something to another person” or “to issue.” Bamboo was easy to craft, including making a tally. Tallies were used to seal an agreement and a notched tally could also be a proof. Together they meant “tag; signal; mark.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hu/ is in 符号 (“sign; mark” /hugoo/), 割り符 (“tally” /warihu/), and /-pu/ is in 切符 (“ticket” /kippu/) and 音符 (“musical note” /onpu/).

The next five kanji 支枝技伎岐 share the component 支. Since Setsumon two thousand years ago explained that the top was a bamboo twig, it is often explained as a hand holding a bamboo twig. There are views that it was not bamboo but tree twigs.

支 and 攴– The two shapes 支 and 攴 are so similar and can be confusing. 攴 is the older form of a bushu bokuzukuri, which came from a hand holding a stick or tool and signified “hitting by hand, causing an action,” as discussed earlier [Kanji Bushu 攵・攴 ぼくづくり (1) 枚散故教 on October 18, 2014].

  1. The kanji 支 “branch; to support”

history-of-kanji-%e6%94%afFor the kanji 支 in ten style the top was either a bamboo twig or tree twig, and the bottom was a hand. A twig branches out from its limb or trunk, so it gave the meaning “to branch out.” At the same time a hand holding this gave the meaning “to support.” The kanji 支 means “branch; to support.”

The kun-yomi 支える /sasaeru/ means “to support.” The on-yomi /shi/ is in 支持する (“to support” /shi’ji-suru/), 支店 (“branch store” /shiten/), 支援 (“support; backing” /shi’en /), 支配する (“to rule over; control” /shi’hai-suru/) and 支出 (“expenditure; outgoes” /shishutsu/).

  1. The kanji 枝 “branch; bough”

history-of-kanji-%e6%9e%9dBecause the original meaning of “tree branch” for the kanji 支 was used for meanings other than a tree brach, this kanji with a bushu kihen was created to mean “tree branch.”

The kun-yomi /eda/ means “(tree) branch” and is in 枝分かれ (“branching out” /edawakare/) and 小枝 (“twig” /koeda/). The on-yomi /shi/ is in the phrase 枝葉末節に拘る (“to be particular about unimporatant details” /shi’yoo massetsu-ni kodara’ru/).

  1. The kanji 技 “skill”

history-of-kanji-%e6%8a%80For the kanji 技 in ten style the left side was a bushu tehen “action using a hand.” The right side holding a small twig in hand gave the meaning “skillful hand that does detailed work.” The kanji 技 means “skill.”

The kun-yomi /waza’/ means “skill.” The on-yomi /gi/ is in 技術 (“skill; technology” /gi’jutsu/), 特技 (“special talent” /to’kugi/) and 演技 (“performance” /e’ngi/) 技巧的な (“technically accomplished; technical” /gikooteki-na/).

  1. The kanji 伎 “skill”

history-of-kanji-%e4%bc%8eFor the kanji, 伎in contrast with the kanji 技 with a tehen, the kanji 伎 had a ninben “person,” and signified a skill or art using one’s body. The kanji 伎 was added to the Joyo kanji list in 2010. Until then the kanji技 with a tehen was substituted. The kanji 伎 means “skills; a person who possess skills.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /gi/ is in 伎能 (“technical skills; ability” /gi’noo/).

  1. The kanji 岐 “juncture”

history-of-kanji-%e5%b2%90For the kanji 岐 in ten style the left side was a mountain. Together with the right side, they meant “a fork in a mountain; narrow path in a mountain.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 分岐点 (“junction; node” /bunki’ten/), 岐路 (“forked road; crossroad” /ki’ro/), as in 岐路に立たされる (“to be at the crossroads” /ki’ro-ni tatasare’ru/).

Other kanji with a bushu takekanmuri that we have already looked at are the following: 節算築管等箱. The “Search” feature on the Previous Posts and Search Page may be helpful. We will look at kanji with a bushu komehen 米 in the next posting. Thank you very much. –Noriko [September 18, 2016]

The Kanji 生姓牲性産醒青晴清情精請


In this post we are going to explore kanji that contain 生, which came from a plant emerging from the ground – 生姓牲性産醒, and kanji that share 青, a compound shape of 生 “fresh” and a “well” (丹) – 青晴清情精請.

  1. The kanji 生 “life; to be born; person; raw”

history-of-kanji-%e7%94%9fFor the kanji 生, in oracle bone style, in brown, it was a plant coming out of the ground. It signified “to emerge; grow; life.” In bronze ware, in green, and ten style, in red, a short line was on “soil.” (We recall that in the kanji 土 the short horizontal stroke came from an emphasis.) From the meaning “an emerging plant” it meant “raw; life,” and from something that has a life it also meant a “person.” In kanji, a short slanted stroke was further added on the upper left, in the same manner as the kanji 先 and 朱. The kanji 生 meant “life; to be born; person; raw.”

The kun-yomi 生きる /iki’ru/ means “to live a life; sustain a life.” Another kun-yomi生 /na’ma/ means “raw,” and is in 生々しい (“vivid” /namanamashi’i/). The third kun-yomi /ki/ is in 生一本な (“straightforward; honest” /ki i’ppon-na/). The on-yomi /se’e/ is in 生活 (“living” /seekatsu/), 発生する (“to occur; break out” /hassee-suru/), 生年月日 (“date of birth” /seenenga’ppi/), and /ze’e/ is in 平生 (“ordinarily; usually” /heezee/). Another on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 一生 (“one’s entire life” /isshoo/). /-Jo’o/ is in 養生する (“care of one’s health; recuperation” /yo’ojoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 姓 “surname”

history-of-kanji-%e5%a7%93For the kanji 姓 (a) in oracle bone style, next to the emerging plant to signify “living life” was a woman kneeling down. Together they signified the female lineage of family, which was a way to group families. In bronze ware style, (b) was 生 only, and (c) had a “person” in addition to 生. In ten style “person” changed to “woman,” a bushu onnahen. The kanji 姓 means “surname.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /se’e/ is in 姓名 (“full name” /se’emee/) and 旧姓 (“maiden name” /kyuusee/).

  1. The kanji 牲 “sacrificial”

history-of-kanji-%e7%89%b2For the kanji 牲, the left side of (a) in oracle bone style was a sheep (the horns curved outward usually meant a sheep). On the other hand (b) in bronze ware style and (c) in ten style had a “cow.” In either case, it meant “sacrificial animals.” A cow is a larger animal than a sheep. A live cow made a much appreciated sacrificial offering in a religious rite. The kanji 牲 meant “sacrifice.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /se’e/ is in 犠牲になる (“to sacrifice oneself” /gisee-ni-na’ru/.)

  1. The kanji 性 “nature; gender; sex”

history-of-kanji-%e6%80%a7For the kanji 性, In ten style the left side was a bushu risshinben “heart,” and the right side was “life.” Together they meant “a heart that one was born with” or “innate nature.” From that it meant “natural character; gender; sex.” The kun-yomi 性 /sa’ga/ means “one’s nature; destiny.” The on-yomi /se’e/ 性 means “gender; sex,” and is in 性質 (“one’s disposition; character” /seeshitsu/), 性急な (“impatient; hasty” /seekyuu-na/), 異性 (“opposite sex” /i’see/). Another on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 性分 (“temperament” /shoobun/) and 本性 (“true nature” /ho’nshoo/).

  1. The kanji 産 “to produce; birth”

history-of-kanji-%e7%94%a3For the kanji 産, in bronze ware style the top (文) signified a pretty pattern. The soft angle on the left (厂) signified a forehead and the bottom (生) was an emerging life. Together they meant a beautiful pattern that was placed on the forehead of a newborn child, or the birth of a beautiful child. It means “to give birth” or “to produce; product.” The shape 文 at the top was kept through the time of kyujitai, in blue, but in shinjitai it changed to 立.

The kun-yomi 産む /umu/ means “to produce; to give birth to.” The on-yomi /sa’n/ is in お産 (“childbirth” /osan/), 出産 (“childbirth” /shussan/), 国産 (“domestic product” /kokusan.), 財産 (“estate; fortune; property” /za’isan/), 石油産出国 (“oil producing country” /sekiyu-sanshutsu’koku/) and 倒産 (“bankruptcy” /toosan/).

  1. The kanji 醒 “awake; to sober up”

history-of-kanji-%e9%86%92For the kanji 醒 in ten style the left side (酉) was “a cask for fermented liquid, such as rice wine.” The right side had 日 “sun” or something bright and 生, which together made up the kanji 星 “star.” history-of-kanji-%e6%98%9fframeWe have looked at the history of the kanji 星 earlier. [The kanji 暮晩免星晶早旬 – 日 (2) on February 28, 2016] Its history is shown on the right. In 醒 both sides, 酉 and 星, together meant “to sober up from being drunk,” that is “to awaken; have clear awareness.” The kun-yomi 醒める /same’ru/ means “to awaken; sober” and is in 興醒め (“kill-joy; wet blanket” /kyoozame/), and 酔いを醒ます (“to make oneself sober” /yoi’-o sama’su). The on-yomi /su’i/ is in 覚醒剤 (“chemical stimulants; drugs” /kakuse’ezai/).

  1. The kanji 青 “blue; clean; young”

history-of-kanji-%e9%9d%92For the kanji 青 in bronze ware style the top was used phonetically to mean “fresh; new.” The bottom was “cinnabar in a well,” which by itself became the kanji 丹 (“cinnabar; red”). history-of-kanji-%e4%b8%b9The history of the kanji 丹 is shown on the right. (a) in bronze ware style and (b) in bronze ware style it was a square well to dig up a cinnabar, which was used to make vermillion. In 青 the dot in the middle was interpreted as the reflection of clean water in the well. From that the top 生 and 丹 together (“clean fresh water in a well”) meant “blue; clean; young.” The kyujitai reflected 丹, but in shinjitai it was replaced by 月.

The kun-yomi /ao’i/ means “blue; inexperienced,” and in 青々とした (“vividly green; fresh and green” /aoa’otoshita/), 青臭い (“smelling like freshly cut grass; inexperienced” /aokusa’i/) and 青二才 (“green youth” /aoni’sai/). The on-yomi /se’e/ is in 青少年 (“young people the youth” /seesho’oen/).

  1. The kanji 晴 “clear sky”

history-of-kanji-%e6%99%b4In the writing in Setsumon the left side was “moon” and the right side was used phonetically to mean “clear.” Together they signified a clear sky after a rainfall at night. In kanji the left side became 日 “sun,” and the right side was 青 “clean and clear.” The kanji 晴 means “clear blue sky.”

The kun-yomi 晴れ /hare’/ means “clear weather” and is in  晴れる /hare’ru/ means “to clear up,”  疑いを晴らす (“to clear suspicion on someone” /utagai-o hara’su/) and 気が晴れ晴れとしない (“to be in low spirits; feel depressed” /ki-ga hare’bare-to shinai). The on-yomi /se’e/ is in 晴天 (“fine weather” /seeten/) and 快晴 (“bright and clear weather” /kaisee/).

  1. The kanji 清 “pure; clean”

history-of-kanji-%e6%b8%85For the kanji 清, in ten style the left side was a bushu sanzui “water,” and the right side was 青 “clear; blue.” Together they meant “pure.” In kyujitai a remnant of 丹 was seen at the bottom right, but it was replaced by 月 in shinjitai.

The kun-yomi 清い /kiyo’i/ means “pure.” Another kun-yomi /suga/ is in 清々しい (“refreshing; invigorating” /sugasugashi’i/). The on-yomi /se’e/ is in 清潔な (“clean; sanitary” /seeketsu-na/), 清算する (“to settle an account” /seesan-suru/) and 清掃する (“to clean” /seesoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 情 “feeling; emotion”

history-of-kanji-%e6%83%85For the kanji 情, In ten style the left side was a bushu risshinben “heart” and the right was 青 “freshness.” Together “what emerged in one’s heart afresh” meant “feeling; emotion.” It also included circumstances that caused an emotion.

The kun-yomi /na’sake/ means “pity” and is in 情けない (“regrettable; pitiful” /nasakena’i/). The on-yomi /jo’o/ is in 愛情 (“love” /aijoo/), 情熱 (“passion” /joonetsu), 同情 (“sympathy” /doojoo/), 事情 (“circumstances” /jijoo/) and 政治情勢 (“political situations” /seejijo’osee/).

  1. The kanji 精 “essence”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b2%beFor the kanji 精 in ten style, the left side 米 was rice grain. The right side 青 was used phonetically to mean “to select.” Select good grain gave something “pure; the essence.” The sense of purity was also extended to the state of mind and soul. The kanji 精 meant “pure;the essence; spirit; mind; soul.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /se’s/ is in 精米 (“rice milling” /seemai/), 精神 (“spirit; mind; soul” /se’eshin/), and 精鋭の (“picked; elite” /seeee-no/). Another on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 精進料理 (“vegetarian cooking originated from Buddhist diet” /shoojinryo’ori/).

  1. The kanji 請 “to request; undertake”

history-of-kanji-%e8%ab%8bFor the kanji 請, the ten style writing consisted of a bushu gonben “word; language” and 青, which was used phonetically to mean “to have an audience with.” Together they originally meant “to request audience; request guidance.” The kanji 請 means “to request; undertake.”

The kun-yomi 請ける /uke’ru/ means “to undertake,” and is in 請け負 (“undertaker; contract” /ukeoi/). The on-yomi /se’e/ is in 請願書 (“written petition” /seegansho/) and 請求書 (“bill; charges” /seekyuusho/).

In the previous two posts we looked at a bushu kusakanmuri, which came from plants growing. In this post we have added that 生 also came from a plant. The differences are that 生 had 土 “soil” and an extra slant at the top to signify emergence of life. A bushu kurakanmuri had two plants, signifying “many.” We will continue to look at more kanji that came from a plant in the next few posts. Thank you very much for your reading.   -Noriko [September 11, 2016]

The Kanji 私種程稲稿称香和歴暦-のぎへん (2)


In this post we continue exploring kanji that contain a nogihen 禾 “rice plant” with a drooping head because of a full crop — 私種程稲稿称香. After that we are going to look at kanji with a different view of the origin of nogihen, “military gate sign,”–和歴暦.

  1. The kanji 私 “I; private; personal”

History of Kanji 私For the kanji 私 in ten style, in red, the left side was a “rice plant.” The right side was a hoe or plow of a peasant who worked on a private field owned by a landowner. From a private land peasant, it meant “private” and was extended to mean “I.” Another view of the right side is that a person was bending his arm to claim crops that belonged to him. In kanji the right side is in the katakana ムshape.

The kun-yomi 私 /watakushi/ means “I.” The on-yomi /shi/ is in 私的な (“private” /shiteki-na/), 私物 (“private property; personal belongings” /shibutsu/), 公私の別 (“distinction between public and private” /ko’oshi-no betu/), 私立 (“private; non-govermental” /shi’ritsu/), 私用 (“personal errand” /shiyoo/) and 私服 (“plain clothes; not in uniform” /shihuku/).

  1. The kanji 種 “seed; kind”

History of Kanji 種For the kanji 種 in ten style the right side meant “heavy.” (Please refer to the earlier post on 重 “heavy.” [The Kanji 東動働重童-力 “power” (3) on January 5, 2015] The grains that were full and heavy made good seeds and were kept for the next seeding time. Seeds are also of different kinds. The kanji 種 meant “seed; kind.”

The kun-yomi 種 /ta’ne/ means “seed,” and /-dane/ is in 火種 (“kindling; the cause of fire” /hida’ne/) in the phrase 火種となる (“to cause a dispute” /hida’ne-to naru/) . The on-yomi /shu/ is in 種子 (“seed” /shu’shi/), 種類 (“kind” /shurui/), 人種 (“race” /jinshu/), 各種 (“various kind of” /ka’kushu/), 品種 (“sort; kind; variety; breed” /hinshu/) and 種々様々 (“all sorts of; all manner of” /shu’ju sama’zama/).

  1. The kanji 程 “degree; extent”

History of Kanji 程For the kanji 程 in ten style the right side had a person with a short line at the shin, and was used phonetically to mean “to present; submit.” Together with the left side “rice plant,” they meant the neatly piled rice plants that were measured. Measuring gave the meaning “extent; degree.” In kanji the right side became 呈 (“to present; submit” /te’e/) with the bottom changing to 王 from the shape 壬 that was kept in other kanji such as 廷庭.

The kun-yomi 程 /hodo/ means “degree,” and is in 程よい (“good; temperate” /hodoyo’i/), 程々にする (“do things in moderation” /hodohodo-ni-suru/). It may also be used in the verbal phrase 〜すればする程 “the more you do, the more it becomes” and the adjectival phrase 〜ければ〜い程, even though it is often written in hiragana. The on-yomi /te’e/ is in 程度 (“degree; extent” /te’edo/) and 日程 (“schedule; schedule of the day” /nittee/) and 旅程 (“itinerary; distance” /ryotee/).

  1. The kanji 稲 “rice plant”

History of Kanji 稲For the kanji 稲 in bronze ware style, in green, the right side of (a) had “a hand reaching from above” and “a mortar” at the bottom. It was also used phonetically to mean “a scooping.” With the left side a rice plant with crop, together they meant a hand handling rice in a mortar. In (b) the rice plant and a hand were placed at the top, and the bottom had “water” on the left, and rice grains and a mortar on the right side. Rice is grown in paddies immersed in water at earlier stage, unlike other grains. From a hand handling rice in a mortar the kanji 稲 meant “rice plant.”

The kun-yomi 稲 /i’ne/ means “rice plant,” and /ina-/ is in 稲穂 (“ear of rice plant” /inaho/) and 稲荷 (“the god of harvests” /i’nari/). The on-yomi /to’o/ is in 水稲 (“rice grown in rice paddies” /suitoo/).

  1. The kanji 稿 “manuscript”

History of Kanji 稿For the kanji 稿 in ten style the top was a tower, and was used phonetically to mean “dry.” Inside the tower was rice plants. Together they originally signified dry rice plants or “straw.” In shinjitai the two components 禾 “rice plants” and 高 were placed side by side. Straws scattered were similar to scattered scribbles or notes for manuscripts. From that it meant “manuscripts.” The original meaning of “straw” is written as 藁 (a bushu kusakanmuri, 高 and 木) pronounced as /wa’ra/, which is not included among Joyo kanji.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ko’o/ is in 原稿 (“manuscripts” /genkoo/), 原稿用紙 (“writing section paper for manuscripts” /genkooyo’oshi/) and 投稿する (“to submit an article” /tookoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 称 “to praise; title; name”

History of Kanji 称For the kanji 称 the oracle bone style writings, in brown, had a hand from above at the top holding a pair of scales. From “lifting two things to weigh” it meant “to raise someone up with praise.” In ten style, the left side had a rice plant and the right side was a hand and a well-balanced structure, signifying lifting a weigh scale. The kyujitai, in blue, reflected the ten style writing. In shinjitai, the right side was replaced by 尓.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 名称 (“name” /meeshoo/), 称号 (“title” /shoogoo/), 自称 (“self-proclaimed; self-described” /jishoo/) and 愛称 (“nickname” /aishoo/).

  1. The kanji 香 “fragrance”

History of Kanji 香For the kanji 香, the oracle bone style writings were millet in a bowl. That became the top of the ten style writing. History of Kanji 黍It is not easy to see the transition, but if we look at the history of the kanji 黍 /ki’bi/ “millet” shown on the right, we can see that the ten style of 黍 became the top of the ten style of 香. Millet has a fragrance. (I do not know how millet smells.) With 曰, it meant one tasting in one’s mouth millet that is fragrant. So in 香, 禾 at the top was not from “rice plant” but “rice-like plant.” The kanji 香 meant “pleasant smell; fragrance.”

The kun-yomi 香り /kaori/ means “fragrance.” The on-yomi /ko’o/ is in 香水 (“perfume” /koosui/), 香料 (“fragrance” /kooryo’o/) and  香辛料 (“spice” /kooshi’nryoo/).

The prevalent view of the origin of the bushu 禾 is “rice plants” as we have seen. There is another view on the origin when 禾 appeared in some kanji. The next three kanji, 和歴暦, are explained in Shirakawa to have originated as “military gate.” We have touched upon this when we looked at the bronze ware style writings of the kanji 休 in the earlier post just a while ago. This is what I wrote:

“(Shirakawa) said that the right side was not 木 but 禾. 禾 was explained as a sign placed on the gate of a military installation where a cease-fire ceremony was held (related to the kanji 和 “peace; harmony”). From this the writing 休 meant to conduct a peace-keeping negotiation at this gate.”[The Kanji 木休本体末抹朱株—”tree” (1) on July 10, 2016]

So, let us look at these kanji in two different views of 禾.

  1. The kanji 和 “peaceful; harmony; Japanese”

History of Kanji 和For the kanji 和 in bronze ware style the left side had a wooden sign on a gate of a military installation. The right side was a box to contain documents. Together they signified a military truce agreement for peace, and from that it meant “peace; harmony.” That is View A. The more prevalent view, View B, is that it was used phonetically: 禾 was a drooping head of a millet plant, was used phonetically to mean “rounded” (Kanjigen) and signified “not having a conflict”; or, the writing consisted of a mouth and 禾 /ka/, which signified phonetically “to add,” as in 加 /ka/. Together they meant people talk harmoniously (Kadokawa). 和 also meant “Japanese.”

The kun-yomi 和らぐ /yawara’gu/ means “to become mild; soften,” as in 痛みが和らぐ (“pain is eased” /itami’-ga yawara’gu/). Another kun-yomi 和やかな /nago’yaka-na/ means “congenial; friendly.” The on-yomi /wa/ is in 平和 (“peace” /heewa/), 和服 (“Japanese-style clothes” /wahuku/), 和気あいあいと (“congenially; friendly atmosphere” /wa’ki aiai-to/), 和紙 (“Japanese rice paper” /wa’shi/), 和風 (“Japanese style” /wahuu/) and 大和 (“old name of Japan” /ya’mato/).

The next two kanji 歴 and 暦 share a common component at the top. Different views on the origin of 禾 naturally result in having different views on what this shape meant; View A “field military headquarters” and view B “dry rice plants placed neatly in a row under the eave.”

  1. The kanji 歴 “history; path”

History of Kanji 歴For the kanji 歴 in oracle bone style (a) had two piecs of wood or rice plants and a footprint. In bronze ware style, (b) and (c), cliff or roof was added. (c) did not have a footprint. In ten style 禾 was 木, but in kyujitai kanji it became 禾, and further changed back to 木 in shinjitai kanji. View A: the top signified military signs under a cliff and the footprint signified an army touring a number of places one by one. Because army moved from one place to another, it meant “path; history.” View B: Many seasons of rice harvests counted one by one. The kanji 歴 meant “history; path.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /reki/ is in 歴史 (“history” /rekishi/), 略歴 (“brief history” /ryakureki/), 履歴書 (”resume;curriculum votar” /rirekisho/), 経歴 (“work experiences” /keereki/) and 学歴 (“educational background” /gakureki/) and 歴訪する (“to tour; successive visits” /rekihoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 暦 “calendar; almanac”

History of Kanji 暦View A: a military field headquarters and a box of documents. It originally meant a recognition ceremony for distinguished war service at the gate. Later on the bottom was mistakenly interpreted as the sun, and it was used as a calendar. View B: Rice plants laid in a row and the sun together signified “the sun taking its path.” From that it meant “calendar.”

The kun-yomi 暦 /koyomi’/ means “calendar.” The on-yomi /re’ki/ is in 太陽暦 (“solar calendar” /taiyo’oreki/), 西暦 (“Christian era; A.D.” /seereki/) and 還暦 (“the sixtieth anniversary of one’s birth” /kanreki/).

In the next post, we are moving to another component from a plant. Thank  you very much for your reading. [September 4, 2916]