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.”
The kanji 竹 “bamboo”
For 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 /chi’ku/ 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” is read in kun-yomi /takeuma/.
The kanji 笑 “to smile; laugh”
For 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”).
The kanji 簡 “letter; simple and easy”
For the kanji 簡 in ten style the bottom “a moon passing through a gap between two doors,” thus “duration; gap; space,” was the kanji閒 (kyujitai 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/).
The kanji 策 “strategy; measure”
For 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/).
The kanji 筋 “muscle; line”
For 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/).
The kanji 弟 “younger brother”
We 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’/).
The kanji 第 “order”
For 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/), 次第に (“gradually; bit by bit” /shidai-ni/).
The kanji 符 “tag; sign; mark”
For 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].
The kanji 支 “branch; to support”
For 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/).
The kanji 枝 “branch; bough”
Because 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/).
The kanji 技 “skill”
For 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/), 技能 (“skills” /gino’o/), 特技 (“special talent” /to’kugi/) and 演技 (“performance” /e’ngi/) 技巧的な (“technically accomplished; technical” /gikooteki-na/).
The kanji 伎 “skill”
For 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/).
The kanji 岐 “juncture”
For the kanji 岐 in ten style the left side was a mountain. Together with the right side, they meant “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]