The Kanji 復腹複覆履良郎朗浪廊 – Food (7)  


In the last post we explored the kanji that originated from a tool to measure or handle grain and food, and saw that there were surprisingly many different shapes — 量斗升 and possibly 両, and other kanji that contain those components. In this post, we are going to add a couple more to the list – the right side of 復 and 良.

  1. The kanji 復 “to repeat; return way; again”

History of Kanji 復For the kanji 復, (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, had a cylindrical shape with a small end at the top and the bottom. This was an apparatus which one flipped up and down repeatedly in measuring grain. Underneath it was “a backward foot,”(夂) signifying “a return.” They meant “a repeated motion of going back-and-forth.” In bronze ware style (b) and (c), in green, “a crossroad” (彳) and “a hand” at the bottom were added. In (c) another “forward-facing footprint” is also seen to emphasize a repeated action of “going” and “coming” (by a backward footprint.) In (d) in seal style, in red, a forward-facing footprint was dropped. In kanji the two rounds that signified “a repeat” was changed to 日. The kanji 復 means “to repeat; return way; again.”  <the composition of the kanji 復: 彳, ノ,一, 日 and  夂>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /huku/ is in 反復する (“to do something over again; iterative” /hanpuku-suru/), 復習 (“review study; brush up” /hukushuu/), 復元する (“to restore; reconstruct” /hukugen-suru/), 回復する (“to recover” /kaihuku-suru/) and  往復する (“to go and return” /oohuku-suru/) and 復路 (“return trip” /hu’kuro/).

  1. The kanji 腹 “abdomen; belly; middle”

History of Kanji 腹For the kanji 腹, in oracle bone style and in bronze ware style it had “a measuring tool with a thick middle,” which was (a) in oracle bone style 腹 above. With “a backward footprint” together they were used phonetically for /huku/ and signify a repeated action. To this component “a person” was added on the right. In 3 in seal style “a person” was replaced by 月, a bushu nikuzuki “flesh; a part of a body.” The part of one’s body that is thick is one’s abdomen. It meant “abdomen.” The kanji 腹 means “abdomen; belly; middle.”  <the composition of the kanji 腹: 月 and the right side of 復>

The kun-yomi お腹 /onaka/ means “stomach.” Another kun-yomi /hara’/ is in 腹ぺこ (“hungry; starving” /harapeko/) in casual style, 腹ごしらえする (“to have a meal before starting work; to fortify oneself with a meal before going” /harago’shirae-suru/), 腹芸 (“subtle communication using one’s personality” /haragee/), 腹いせをする(“to get back at someone; get one’s revenge” /haraise-o-suru/). The on-yomi /huku/ is in 空腹 (“to behungry” /kuuhuku/), and /-puku/ is in 満腹になる (“to become full” /manpuku-ni-na’ru/) and 切腹 (“seppuku; hara-kiri” /seppuku/).

  1. The kanji 複 “to duplicate; copy; complex”

History of Kanji 複For the kanji 複, the seal style writing comprised 衣 “collar,” signifying “something in a fold,” and the right side of 復 meaning “to repeat,” which was used phonetically for /huku/. Together they ­meant “to duplicate.” In kanji the left became 衤, a bushu koromohen “clothing.” The kanji 複 meant “to duplicate; copy” and also “complex.”   <the composition of the kanji 複: 衤 and the right side of 復>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /huku/ is in 複製 (“duplicate; copy” /hukusee/), 複雑な (“complex” /hukuzatsu-na/) and 複層 (“double layers” /hukusoo/).

  1. The kanji 覆 “to cover; overturn; flip over”

History of Kanji 覆For the kanji 覆, the top of the seal style writing, 襾, was “a cover on an opening with the stopper in the middle.” The bottom 復 originally meant “to flip over a measuring apparatus,” and was used phonetically for /huku/. In kanji the top became 覀. Together they meant “to overturn; cover.” The kanji 覆 means “to cover; overturn; flip over.” <the composition of the kanji 覆: 覀 and 復>

The kun-yomi 覆う /oou/ means “to cover; wprad over; wrap,” and is in 日覆い (“sun shade; sun shield” /hio’oi/). Another kun-yomi 覆す /kutsuga’esu/ (and its intransitive verb 覆る /kutsuga’eru/)  means “to reverse; overthrow; turn over.” The on-yomi /huku/ is in 覆面 (“a mask to conceal one’s face” /hukumen/).  /-Puku/ is in 転覆 (“upset; overturn” /tenpuku/).

  1. The kanji 履 “clogs; to put on footwear; to perform; carry out”

History of Kanji 履The kanji 履 contains 復. However, it came from a very different origin. (a) in bronze ware style had “a leg” and “a person with a formal hat.” (b) in bronze ware style and (c) in Old style, in purple, had “a boat shape footwear” (signifying “to transport”) and “a person; head” (頁). Together they meant “one goes forward with footwear on” or “to perform.” In seal style (d) was replaced by 復 under 尸, a bushu shikabane. The kanji 履 means “clogs; to put on footwear; to perform; carry out.” <the composition of the kanji 履: 尸 and 復>

The kun-yomi 履く /haku/ means “to wear clothes by putting legs through, such as trousers, pants, shoes, skirt, etc.,” and is in 履物 (“footwear; foot gear” /haki’mono/), 上履き (“slippers” /uwabaki/). The on-yomi /ri/ is in 草履 (“Japanese sandal-style footwear for kimono” /zoori/), ゴム草履 (“flip-flops” /gomuzo’ori/), 履行する (“to execute; carry out” /rikoo-suru/) and 契約の不履行 (“non-fulfilment of a contract; a beach of agreement” /keeyaku-huri’koo/).

  1. The kanji 良 “good; excellent; true”

History of Kanji 良For the kanji 良 (a) in oracle bone style, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style was “an apparatus to select good grains”– The top was the opening to pour grain in and to blow air through to remove bad grains, and good ones were taken out from the bottom. (d) in seal style still retained that meaning in its shape, but in kanji there is little remnant to tell us its history. The kanji 良 meant “good; excellent; true.”

The kun-yomi 良い /yo‘i/ means “good,” and is in 仲良し (“good friend” /naka’yoshi/). The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 改良する (“to improve” /kairyoo-suru/), 不良品 (“defective product” /huryoohin/), 優良な (“excellent; fine” /yuuryoo-na/), 良心 (“conscience” /ryo’shin/) and 良縁 (“suitable candidate for marriage” /ryooen/).

  1. The kanji 郎 “man”

History of Kanji 郎For the kanji 郎 in seal style it comprised 良, which was used phonetically for /roo/, and 邑 “town; village,” which became 阝, a bushu oozato. It was originally the name of a town. 郎 was used to mean a government official, and it came to be used in a male name. The kyuji 郞, in blue, had 良 on the left, which became simplified by dropping a stroke in shinji. The kanji 郎 means “man.”  <the composition of the kanji 郎: 良 without the 6th stroke and 阝>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /roo/ is used in a male name, such as 太郎, 一郎 (both “the first son”), 次郎, 二郎 (“the second son”) and 三郎 (“the third son”, etc. It is in 一族郎党 (“one’s whole clan” /ichi’zoku rootoo/) and 馬鹿野郎 (“fool; idiot” as a cursing word used by angry male speakers /bakayaro’o/).

  1. The kanji 朗 “cheerful; lively”

History of Kanji 朗For the kanji 朗 in seal style it comprised 月 “moon,” signifying “bright light of a moon,” and 良 “good,” which was used phonetically for /roo/. Together they meant “clear and bright.” In the kyuji 朗, 2, the positions of the two components were swapped. In shinji 良 was simplified in shinji by dropping a stroke. The kanji 朗 means “cheerful; lively.”  <the composition of the kanji 朗: 良 without the 6th stroke and 月>

The kun-yomi 朗らかな /hoga’raka/ means “merry; cheerful.” The on-yomi /roo/ is in 明朗な “bright; cheerful” /meeroo-na/).

  1. The kanji 浪 “wave; drift; waste”

History of Kanji 浪For the kanji 浪, the seal style writing comprised “water” and 良, which was used phonetically for /roo/. Together they were used as the name of a river. The right side 良 originated from an apparatus of selecting good grains in which grains were shaken and moved about, like “waves.” The kanji 浪 was borrowed to mean “wave; drift; waste.”  <the composition of the kanji 浪: 氵 and 良>

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /roo/ is in 浪人 (“unemployed samurai” /roonin/) and 浪人する (to study for an entrance exam for a year to try again” /roonin-suru/), 浪士 (“lordless samurai” /ro’oshi/), 放浪する (“to roam; wander about” /hooroo-suru/) and 放浪者 (“wandering tramp” /hooro’osha/).

  1. The kanji 廊 “corridor; walkway”

History of Kanji 廊For the kanji 廊 the seal style writing had 广 a bushu madare “the eaves of a house; canopy.” Underneath was 郞 “government official,” which was used phonetically for /roo/. Officials conducted business there. The kanji 廊 means “corridor; walkway.”  <the composition of the kanji: 广 and 郎 >

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /roo/ is in 廊下 (“hallway; space between rooms inside a house” 回廊 (“veranda; corridor” /kairoo/).

The kanji we looked at in this and last postings were either from a measuring apparatus or a ladle that was used for measuring. In some kanji they were used simply as a phonetic feature and bore little relevance to its original meaning. That is the way a large number of kanji were created as keisei moji (形声文字) “semantic-phonetic writing.”  Before I take a month’s break from posting in October and November, I shall try to post one more article next week, probably on kanji that contain 皿.  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [September 30, 2017]

The Kanji 量糧両斗料科斜升昇- Food (6)    


I am planning to discuss various types of measuring tools for grains or liquid in this and the next posts. Needless to say food is important in any civilization at any point of history, but when the primary source of levy was grains the fact that there were a number of kanji to measure food makes sense to me.

  1. The kanji 量 “mass; to measure”

History of Kanji 量In oracle bone style, in brown, in bronze, and in bronze ware style, in brown, the top round shape signified an opening of a bag tied below. It signified a scale to weigh a bag of grain. What was weighed meant “mass; amount.” In Old style, in purple, and seal style, in red, 土 “dirt” was added at the bottom, and the bottom shape became 里. It is similar to the history of kanji such a 重 “heavy” and 動 “to move.” The kanji 量 means “mass, amount.”

The kun-yomi 量る /haka’ru/ means “to measure; weigh.” The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 量 (“quantity; amount; column” /ryoo/), 分量 (“dose; quantity” /bunryo’o/), 測量 (“location survey; surverying” /sokuryoo/), 重量制限 (“weight limit” /juuryoo-se’egen/), 感慨無量 (“deep emotion; one’s mind is filled with a thousand emotions” /kangai-muryoo/) and 力量 (“ability; power; craftsmanship” /rikiryo’o/).

  1. The kanji 糧 “food; nourishment”

History of Kanji 糧In bronze ware style it had a bag tied in the middle with an opening on top, which was the same as 量 “a scale to measure grains.” The bottom was probably “rice.” Together rice measured meant “food; provisions.” In seal style 米 was placed on the left side of 量 as a bushu komehen. The kanji 糧 means “food; provisions.”

The kun-yomi 糧 /kate’/ means “provisions; food,” as in 心の糧 (“nourishment for one’s mind” /kokoro-no-ka’te/) and 日々の糧 (“earn one’s daily bread” /hi’bi-no-kate/). The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 食糧 /shokuryoo/) and 食糧自給率 “the food-self-sufficiency rate” /shokuryoo-jikyu’uritsu/).

  1. The kanji 両 “both; two”

History of Kanji 両One view of the origin is that the symmetrical shape was “a scale.” Another takes it as “a gourd split in two with dry seeds inside” and the third one is that it was “a handle of a horse carrier to pull two horses.” The kyuji 兩, (d) in blue, reflected (c) in seal style which had a line at the top. Ryo was a unit of currency in gold before Meiji, based on its weight. It is also used as a counter of train cars in railway. The kanji 両 means “two; double; both; a car of train; ryo (a old unit of currency).”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 両方 (“both” /ryoohoo/), 両立する (“to be compatible with ; coexist with” /ryooritsu-suru/), 両面 (“both sides” /ryoomen/), 両親 (“parents” /ryo’oshin/), 両人 (“the two people; couple” /ryo’onin/), 十両編成 (“ten-car train” /juuryoo-he’nsee/), 両替 (“exchange of money” /ryoogae/) and 百両 (“a hundred ryo” /hyaku’ryoo/).

  1. The kanji 斗 “dipper; measuring ladle”

History of Kanji 斗In bronze ware style and seal style it was “a ladle with a handle for scooping rice wine,” and was used phonetically for /to/. It was used as a unit of volume. One to in Japan was 18 liters. The kanji 斗 means “ladle; dipper; measurement unit for liquid.”

The kun-yomi /masu’/ means “a dipper,” and it is in 北斗七星 (“the Great Bear; the Big Dipper” /hokuto-shichi’see/)and 漏斗 (“funnel” /ro’oto/).

  1. The kanji 料 “food; fee; provisions”

History of Kanji 料In bronze ware style it is comprised of “rice grains” (米) and “a measuring ladle” (斗). Together they meant “measured amount of food.” An official measure food to charge a fee. The kanji 料 means “to measure; food; fee; provisions.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ryoo/ is in 料金 (“fee; charge; fair” /ryo’okin/), 手数料 (“handling fee” /tesu’uryoo/), 入場料 (“admission fee” /nyuujo’oryoo/), 無料 (“free of charge” /muryoo/), 送料 (“sending fee; postage” /sooryo’o/), 有料 (“charge; fee” /yuuryoo/), 料亭 (“Japanese style restaurant” /ryootee/).

  1. The kanji 科 “section; department; charge; penalty; conviction”

History of Kanji 科The seal style writing comprised “a rice plant” (禾), which became a bushu nogihen in kanji, and “a measuring ladle” (斗). Various types of grains such as rice were sorted out using a measuring ladle and were classified. It meant “classification; section; department.” Authorities also measured an appropriate amount of fee and penalty, and it meant “to charge a penalty; conviction.” The kanji 科 means “section; department; charge; penalty; conviction.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka/ is in 科学 (“sicence” /ka’gaku/), 科学者 (“scientist” /kaga’kusha/), 眼科医 (“an ophthalmologist; eye specialist” /ganka’i/), 科目 (“subject” /kamoku/) and 前科 (“criminal records” /ze’nka/).

  1. The kanji 斜 “diagonal; slanted”

History of Kanji 斜The seal style writing comprised 余, which was used phonetically for /yo; sha/, and 斗 “a measuring ladle.” When one scoops liquid using a ladle, the ladle is held diagonally. From that the kanji 斜 means “diagonal; slanted.”

The kun-yomi 斜め /nana’me/ means “diagonal; slanted.” The on-yomi /sha/ is in 斜線 (“oblique line” /shasen/), 傾斜する (“to incline” /keesha-suru/), 斜面 (“slope” /sha’men/) and 斜陽産業 (“declining industry” /shayoosa’ngyoo/).

  1. The kanji 升 “dipper; measuring ladle”

History of Kanji 升In the two oracle bone style writings we can see grains or liquid that this measuring ladle was scooping up. It is very similar to 斗. In bronze ware style a dot inside the cup still signified that it was not empty. 4 in seal style the three diagonal lines was simplified to one in kanji 升. One sho was 1.8 liters. The kanji 升 means “sho,” a pre-metric measurement system for liquid.

The kun-yomi 升 /masu/ means “box; private seating section.” The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 一升 (1.8 liters)

  1. The kanji 昇 “to rise; ascend”

There is no ancient writing. The seal style writing comprised 日 “sun,” and the bottom 升 was used phonetically for /shoo/ to mean “rise.” Together the kanji 昇 meant “to rise; ascend.”

The kun-yomi 昇る /noboru/ means “to rise; ascend.” The on-yomi /shoo/ is in 上昇する (“to soar” /jooshoo-suru/), 昇華する (“to sublimate” /shooka-suru/), 昇天 (“ascension; death” /shooten/) and昇進 (“promotion; move up” /shooshin/).

There is one more shape that describes a measuring apparatus that I would like to explore. We shall start the next posting with that. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [September 23, 2017]

The Kanji 尊遵猶爵午許御卸康唐糖 – Food (5)

  1. The kanji 尊 “to revere; respect”

History of Kanji 尊For the kanji 尊 in oracle bone style, in brown, (a) was “a wine cask presented reverentially to a god with two hands.” It meant “to revere; respect.” In bronze ware style, in green, (b) had a ハ shape that signified “rising alcoholic spirit.” (c) in bronze ware style, and (d) in seal style, in red, had the same components as (a). In kanji the two hands at the bottom became the kanji 寸. The kanji 尊 means “to revere; respect.”  <the composition of the kanji 尊: a truncated ソ, 酉 and 寸>

There are two kun-yomi for 尊 are interchangeable – 尊い /tooto’i/ and /tatto’i/ mean “revered,” and 尊ぶ /tooto’bu/ and /tatto’bu/ mean “to respect; honor; value.” The on-yomi /son/ is in 尊敬する (“to respect” /sonkee-suru/) and 自尊心 (“self-esteem” /jiso’nshin/). /-Zon/ is in 本尊 (“principal image” of a temple /ho’nzon/).

  1. The kanji 遵 “to observe law or precedent; obey”

History of Kanji 遵For the kanji 遵, the left side of the seal style writing was 辵, a precursor of the bushu shinnyoo “to move forward.” The right side was the same as (d) in 1.尊 “to respect; revere; value highly,” and was used phonetically for /jun/ to mean “to observe.” One conducting himself with a respect (of the precedent) gave the meaning “to follow; obey.” The kanji 遵 means “to observe law or precedent; obey.” <the composition of the kanji 遵: 尊 and a bushu shinnyoo>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /jun/ is in 遵守する (“to comply; observe” /ju’nshu-suru) and 遵法精神 (“law-abiding spirit” /junnpoo-se’eshin/) and 遵法闘争 (“work-to-rule strike” /junpooto’osoo/), often written as 順法 using a simpler kanji. The kanji 遵 is used as a legal word and we rarely come across it.

  1. The kanji 猶 “to hesitate; take time; furthermore”

History of Kanji 猶The origin of the kanji 猶 was also odd. The oracle bone style writing had “a wine cask,” which was used phonetically for /yuu/, and “a dog; animal.” The bronze ware style writing and the seal style writing had the same two components in more developed shapes. Some view that it was originally an animal that climbed a tree, such as a monkey. From a suspicious-natured monkey, it meant “to be suspicious; hesitate.” (This account sounds odd to me, but I do not have any better one here.) In kanji the animal became 犭, a bushu kemonohen “animal; dog.” The kanji 猶 is used to mean “to hesitate; take time; furthermore.” <the composition of the kanji 猶:犭and a truncated ソ and 酉>

There is no kun-yomi, but 猶 /na’o/ is seen to mean “furthermore.” The on-yomi /yuu/ is in 猶予期間 (“grace period; cooking-off period” /yuuyo-ki’kan/.)

  1. The kanji 爵 “peerage; titular rank”

History of Kanji 爵The kanji 爵 has a large number of ancient writings in various shapes. In (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, (c), (d) and (e) in bronze ware style it was a three-legged wine holder for warm rice wine that was used in a religious ceremony. A ruler giving such an item to a subject was a part of a ceremony conferring honor. The kanji 爵 means “peerage; titular rank.” <the composition of the kanji 爵: “a hand from above,” 罒, the left side of 即 and 寸>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shaku/ is in 爵位 (“title” /sha’kui/), such as 公爵 (“duke” /ko’oshaku/), 伯爵 (“count” /hakushaku/) and 男爵 (“baron” /da’nshaku/). These titles in Japan were short-lived between the post-Meiji restoration and after WWII.

  1. The kanji 午 “noon”

History of Kanji 午For the kanji 午 in oracle bone style, (a) was “a skein of thread” whereas (b) was “a pestle,” which was used for “pounding grains in a mortar.” In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (f) in seal style it was also “a pestle.” The pounding motion of a pestle was a straight vertical motion. The shape appeared in other kanji to signify something in the middle.  Later it was borrowed to mean “noon.” The kanji 午 means “noon.”

There is no kun-yomi.  The on-yomi /go/ is in 午前中 (“in the morning” /gozenchuu/), 正午 (“noon” /sho’ogo/) and 午後 (“afternoon” /go’go/).

  1. The kanji 許 “to permit; allow; forgive; place”

History of Kanji 許For the kanji 許, in bronze ware style and seal style the left side was “word; language; to speak,” and “a pestle” 午 on the right side was used phonetically for /kyo/. The kanji 許 means “to permit; allow; forgive.” <the kanji 許: 言 and 午>

The kun-yomi 許す /yuru’su/ means “to permit; allow; forgive.” /-Moto/ is not a Joyo-kanji reading, but it is used to mean “a place” in place of 元, as in 親許は確かだ (“is of good parenting” /oyamoto-wa ta’shika-da/), 手許にない (“do not have on hand” /temoto’-ni na’i/) and 国許に帰る (“to return home” /kunimoto-ni ka’eru/).  The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 許可 (“permit” /kyo’ka/), 免許 (“license” /me’nkyo/), 許容範囲 (“the tolerance level” /kyoyooha’n-i/). 許嫁 is usually read in a Japanese word /iinazuke/ (“fiance”).

  1. The kanji 御 “to control; manipulate; honorific affix”

History of Kanji 御For the kanji 御 in oracle bone style it had “a person who was kneeling down” in front of either “a pestle” (a) or “a skein of thread” (b). It meant “to handle or control something.” In bronze ware style (c) had the same two components, whereas (d) had “a crossroad” and “a footprint,” adding the meaning “going.” Together they meant “to steer a horse carriage to control where it was going.” In (e) in Old style it had two totally different components – “a horse” and “a hand”-, and they meant “to steer a horse by hand.” In seal style (f) had “a crossroad” (彳) on the left, “a pestle” (午) and “a footprint” (止) coalesced in the middle and “a kneeling person” (卩) on the right. A posture of kneeling down doing something was a humble posture, and it was used as an honorific prefix or suffix. The kanji 御 means “to control; manipulate; honorific affix.” <the composition of the kanji 御:彳and 卸>

The kun-yomi /o/ is a prefix to a kun-yomi word and words used in a kitchen, and is in 御守り (“amulet” /omamori/) and many other Japanese words. Another kun-yomi /mi/ is in 御心 (“heart (of Lord)” /mikokoro/). The on-yomi /go/ is likely used as a prefix for an on-yomi word, and is in 御所 (“imperial palace” /go’sho/), 親御さん (“(someone’s) parents” /oyago-san/), 御殿 (“palace” /go’ten/), 御免ください (“Hello” at the door /gomenkudasa’i/). Another on-yomi /gyo/ is in 御者 (“a driver of a horse carriage” /gyo’sha/) and 制御 (“a control” /se’egyo/).

  1. The kanji 卸 “to drive a horse cart; to operate; wholesale”

History of Kanji 卸The kanji 卸 is the original shape of the kanji 御. The bronze ware style writing comprised “a pestle” and “a kneeling person.” They meant “to steer a horse.” In seal style “a footprint” (止) was added. Together they meant “stopping a horse to unload a crate from a horse or carriage.” Unloading a crate also meant “wholesale.” The kanji 卸 means “to drive a horse cart; to operate; run; wholesale.”  <the composition of the kanji 卸:  午 and 止 coalesced and 卩>

The kun-yomi /oro’su/ is in 棚卸し (“stock-taking; inventorying” /tanaoroshi/) and 卸売り (“wholesale; wholesaling” /oroshiuri/). There is no on-yomi in Joyo kanji.

  1. The kanji 康 “peaceful and healthy”

History of Kanji 康For the kanji 康 in oracle bone style it was “an apparatus (with a pestle) to thresh grain, with hulls dropping down.” In bronze ware style two hands were added in the middle. In seal style it had “a pestle” in the middle, and “two hands” that were “threshing rice” in the middle. Threshing rice to provide food gave the meaning of “good livelihood and health.” The kanji 康 means “peaceful and healthy.” <the composition of the kanji 康: 广 and >

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /koo/ is in 健康 (“health” /kenkoo/) and 健康的な (“healthy” /kenkoo-na/) and 小康を保つ (“to have a brief respite” /shookoo-o tamo’tsu/).

  1. The kanji 唐 “Tang dynasty; Chinese”

History of Kanji 唐In (a) and (b) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style the top had “two hands holding a pestle to thresh grain,” and was used phonetically for /too/. The bottom was 口 “mouth.” In (d) in Old style 昜 was used phonetically for /too/. (e) in seal style reflected (c). The kanji 唐 is used for the name of the Chinese Tang dynasty (618-907). It was the time when Japan imported many aspects of Chinese culture by sending official envoys called 遣唐使 /kento’oshi/, including kan-on reading of kanji. In Japanese it was used to mean “Chinese.” <the composition of the kanji 唐: 广, “a hand from the sideways” with a vertical line and 口>

The kun-yomi /kara/ is in 唐揚げ (“deep fried seasoned food” /karaage/) and 唐草模様 (“arabesque design” /karakusamo’yoo/) – Arabic patterns came through China on the Silk Road-, and 唐門  (“large gate of a temple with a gable” /karamon/). The on-yomi /too/ is in 遣唐使 (“official cultural envoy to the Tang court” /kento’oshi/) and 唐辛子 (“red hot pepper” /tooga’rashi/).

  1. The kanji 糖 “sugar”

History of Kanji 糖The kanji 糖 in seal style (a) comprised 食 “food; to eat” and 昜, which was used phonetically for /too/ to mean “sugar; candy.” (b) comprised 米 “rice” and 唐, which was used phonetically for /too/ to mean “to stretch” in making candies out of sweet rice. Whichever the explanation is, the kanji 糖 meant “sugar.” <the composition of the kanji 糖: the kanji 米 and 唐>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /too/ is in 砂糖 (“sugar” /sato’o/), 糖分 (“sugar; carbohydrate” /to’obun/) and 糖尿病 (“diabetes” /toonyoobyoo/).

There are many more kanji that pertain to food preparation and a kitchen. In the next a couple of posts we shall be exploring kanji that related to measuring food.  Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko  [September 16, 2017]

The Kanji 酒配酎酵酷酌酬醜酔醒酢酸- Food (4) 酉


In this post we are going to look at the kanji 酒配酎酵酷酌酬醜酔醒酢酸 that contains 酉 “a rice wine cask.”

History of Kanji 酉The common component 酉 here is not a Joyo kanji. In all of the ancient writings shown on the right – (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) seal style, in red, – was “a rice wine cask” or “a cask to keep fermented liquid in.” So all the kanji that we are going to look at pertain to “fermentation” at one stage of the history.

The writing 酉 is used in the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, but, as with the rest of the 12 zodiac signs, the kanji was chosen arbitrarily and had no relation to its meaning. By itself it is pronounced /tori/, and is in 酉年 (“the year of chicken” /toridoshi/). Just a reminder — The kanji for “west” 西 has one stroke fewer, and is not related to this kanji.

  1. The kanji 酒 “alcohol beverage; rice wine; sake

History of Kanji 酒2In oracle bone style (a), “a rice wine cask” was on the left and “water; liquid” on the right. In bronze ware style (b), (c) and (d) “a rice wine cask” was standing alone but the small dots in (c) were pointing out its contents rather than the cask as a container. Together they meant “rice wine.” In (e) in seal style “water; liquid” was separately added to a wine cask, possibly signifying that it was the liquid from which sake lees had been removed. The kanji 酒 means “rice wine; fermented drink; alcohol beverage.”   <The composition of the kanji 酒: 氵and 酉>

The kun-yomi /sake/ means “Japanese rice wine; sake; alcohol beverage,” and is in 酒粕 (“sake lees” /sakekasu/), which is used for cooking as well. /-Zake/ is in 寝酒 (“nightcap” /nezake/), 甘酒 (“sweet sake lee drink” /amaza’ke/) and 居酒屋 (“pub; bar; tavern” /izakaya/).  /Saka-/ is in 酒屋 (“liquor store; alcohol beverage shop” /sakaya/), 酒盛り (”drinking party; drinking bout” /sakamori/). The on-yomi /shu/ is in 日本酒 (“Japanese rice wine” /nihonshu/) and 葡萄酒 (“(grape) wine” /budo’oshu/).

  1. The kanji 配 “to distribute; hand out; arrange”

History of Kanji 配(a) in oracle bone style, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in seal style all comprised “a wine cask” on the left and “a squatting person looking at the cask.” He was waiting for rice wine to be handed out to him. It means “to hand out; deal.” In (d) in seal style and kanji 配, the person took the shape 己 “a squatting person; a person.” The kanji 配 means “to distribute; to hand out; to arrange.”  <The composition of the kanji 配: 酉 and 己>

The kun-yomi 配る /kuba’ru/ means “to deliver; deal.” The on-yomi /hai/ is in 配達 (“delivery of goods/food” /haitatsu/), 配分する (“to allocate; distribute” /haibun-suru/), 手配する (“to arrange; provide for” /te’hai-suru/), 配当金 (“divined” /haitookin/). /-Pai/ is in 心配 (“worry” /shinpai/). /-Bai/ is in 軍配 (“an umpire’s fan” in a sumo match /gunbai/).

  1. The kanji 酎 “distilled liquor; flavorful three-time filtered liquor”

History of Kanji 酎The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 寸 “a hand,” which was used phonetically for /chuu/. Together they meant “flavorful wine that was filtered three times.” The kanji 酎 means “flavorful rice wine.”  <The composition of the kanji 酎: 酉 and 寸>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chuu/ is in 焼酎 (“white liquor; Japanese distilled liquor made of potato” /shoochu’u/).

  1. The kanji 酵 “yeast; fermentation”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 酵 had 酉 “a rice wine cask” on the left. The right side 孝 “filial duty” (with 耂, a bushu “old person”) was used phonetically for /koo/, perhaps suggesting a long time to ferment. Together they meant “yeast” that made fermented wine or “fermentation.” The kanji 酵 means “fermentation; yeast.”  <The composition of the kanji 酵: 酉 and 孝 >

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /koo/ is in 発酵する (“to ferment” /hakkoo-suru/), 酵母 (“yeast” /ko’obo/) and 酵素 (“enzyme” /ko’oso/).

  1. The kanji 酷 “cruel”

History of Kanji 酷The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 告, which was used phonetically for /koku/. Together they meant “intense taste of alcohol.” From that the kanji 酷 means “intense; cruel; harsh.” The phrase  酷のある /koku-no-a’ru/ “full-bodied; robust” is usually written in katakana コク nowadays.   <The composition of the kanji 酷: 酉 and 告>

The kun-yomi 酷い /mugo’i/ means “cruel.” The on-yomi /koku/ is in 残酷な (“cruel; extremely harsh” /zankoku-na/), 酷暑 (“severe heat of summer” /ko’kusho/) and 酷使する (“to drive someone work hard; strain oneself” /ko’kushi-suru/).

  1. The kanji 酌 “to serve wine; scoop out sake”

History of Kanji 酌The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 勺 “a ladle scooping up,” which was used phonetically for /shaku/. Together they meant “a ladle scooping up wine.” The kanji 酌 means “to serve wine; scoop out sake.”  <The composition of the kanji 酌: 酉 and 勺>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shaku/ is in お酌する (“to fill someone else’s sake cup” /oshaku-suru/), 晩酌 (“evening dinner-time drink” /banshaku/), 媒酌人 (“matchmaker” at a wedding /baishakunin/) and 酌量 (“consideration” /shakuryoo/).

  1. The kanji 酬 “reply; reward; fee”

History of Kanji 酬In seal style (a) and (b) had 酉 “a rice wine cask” on the left. The right side of (a), 寿 (the kyuji 壽) “long life; auspicious,” was used phonetically for /shuu/. Together they originally meant “to offer a drink of wine to a guest.” Later it meant “to reply; reward.” In (b) 壽 was replaced by the phonetically same 州 /shuu/. The kanji 酬 is also used for “fee.”  <The composition of the kanji 酬: 酉 and 州>

The kun-yomi 酬いる /mukui’ru; mukuiru/ means “to reward.” The on-yomi /shuu/ is in 応酬する (“to make a sharp retort; reply” /ooshuu-suru/) and 報酬 (“reward; fee” /hooshuu/).

  1. The kanji 醜 “ugly”

History of Kanji 醜The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” which was used phonetically for /shuu/. The right side was 鬼 “spirit of a deceased; ghost,” which had a frightfully ugly face and ム “a floating spirit.” Together they meant “ugly; mean-spirited; shameful.” <The composition of the kanji 醜: 酉 and 鬼>

The kun-yomi /miniku’i/ means “ugly; shameful.”  The on-yomi /shuu/ is in 醜聞 (“scandal; malicious gossip” /shuubun/) and 醜悪な (“unsightly” /shuuaku-na/).

  1. The kanji 酔 “to become drunk; be intoxicated”

History of Kanji 酔The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 卒 “to end,” which was used phonetically for /sui/. Together they meant “to drink rice wine to finish off” – thus “to be drunk.” The kyuji 醉, in blue, reflected seal style, but in shinji 酔 the right side 卒 was replaced by 卆. The kanji 酔 means “to become drunk; get inebriated on sake; be intoxicated.”  <The composition of the kanji 酔: 酉 and 卆>

The kun-yomi 酔う /yo’u/ means “to become drunk; become intoxicated,” and is in 船酔い (“seasickness” /hunayoi/), and 酔っ払い (“a drunken man; drunk” /yopparai/). The on-yomi /sui/ is in 心酔する (“to adore; be fascinated by” /shinsui-suru/),  酔狂な (“eccentric; whimsical” /su’ikyoo-na/), 麻酔 (“anesthesia” /masui/) and 陶酔する (“to be intoxicated; be fascinated” /toosui-suru/).

  1. The kanji 醒 “to awaken; have clear awareness”

History of Kanji 醒The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a rice wine cask,” and 星, which was used phonetically for /see/. Together they meant “to sober up from being drunk,” that is “to awaken; have clear awareness.” The kanji 醒 means “to awaken; have clear awareness.” <The composition of the kanji 醒: 酉and 星>

The kun-yomi 醒める /same’ru/ means “to become awake.” The on-yomi /see/ is in 覚醒剤 (“psychostimulant; stimulant drug” /kakuse’ezai/). It is a strange use of this kanji.

  1. The kanji 酢 “vinegar”

History of Kanji 酢The two bronze ware style writings had “a cask of fermented liquid” (酉), and 乍, which was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “something past,” which is related to the kanji 昨. Rice wine that went bad is vinegar. The kanji 酢 means “vinegar.”  <The composition of the kanji 醒: 酉 and 星>

The kun-yomi 酢 /su/ means “vinegar,” 酢豚 (“sweet and sour pork” /su’buta/) and is in 酢の物 (“a vinegared dish” /suno’mono/). The on-yomi /saku/ is in 酢酸 (“acetic acid” /sakusan/).

  1. The kanji 酸 “sour; acid”

History of Kanji 酸The seal style writing comprised 酉 “a wine cask,” and 夋, which was used phonetically for /san/ to mean “sour.” When wine goes bad it becomes sour. The kanji means “acidic; sour.” <The composition of the kanji 酸: 酉 and 夋>

The kun-yomi 酸っぱい /suppa/i/ means “sour” and is in 甘酸っぱい (/amazuppa’i/ “sweet and sour”). The on-yomi /san/ is in 酸素 (“oxygen” /sa’nso/), 酸性 (“acidity” /sansee/), 塩酸 (“hydrochloric acid” /ensan/), 酸化する(“to oxidize” /sanka-suru/), 炭酸飲料水 (“carbonated drink” /tansan-inryo’osui/) and 乳酸菌 (“lactic acid bacteria” /nyuusankin/).

Among the kanji we did not look at in this post include 醤油 (“soy sauce” /shooyu’/), which is a seasoning liquid that was made of soy beans with yeast (酵母), and the kyuji 醫 for 医, which had 酉 at the bottom as sake to cleanse an arrow wound. We have also looked at 醸 “fermentation” in an earlier post.

When we look at any of the kanji 酒配酎酵酷酌酬醜酔醒酢酸 in isolation, it may appear to have a complex shape. Once we understand the meaning of the common component 酉, however, it reduces our task to just focusing on the other component, which is likely a component we have studied already in other kanji. So, it becomes a matter of comparing simpler shapes and adding “fermentation” to it. That is the advantage of learning kanji by common components, or bushu in a larger sense. — Sorry for my pitch. I know that our regular readers need no such reminder. The old habit of a classroom teacher stating the obvious is hard to lose.  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [September 9, 2017]

The Kanji 隔融徹撤甚勘堪 – Food (3)


In this posting, we are going to look at the kanji 隔融徹撤 and 甚勘堪. “How often are they used?” we may wonder. Just for a curious mind, I have here the information on how frequently these kanji appeared in newspapers, etc., before the Joyo kanji revision (that is, among the 1,945 Joyo kanji.) I have taken this from Yasuyo Tokuhiro’s work: (The letter F stands for frequency order) — 隔 (F1411), 融 (F0826), 徹 (F1177), 撤 (F1363), 甚 (F1075), 勘 (F1515) and 堪 (new Joyo kanji). Her research predated the new Joyo kanji revision in 2010 (the publication was in 2008).

Now let us start with the component 鬲. 鬲 /reki/ is not a kanji we use by itself, but we have the history as shown on the right. (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, was a clay tripod (meaning, three-legged) pot. The legs were thick and hollow, and it was used to keep grains.

  1. The kanji 隔 “to separate; shield”

History of Kanji 隔The left side of the seal style writing became a bushu kozatohen in kanji. A bushu kozatohen had various meanings – “a hill or mountains placed vertically,” which signified “a pile of dirt; a dirt wall separating the area; a boundary” or “a ladder; a ladder from which a god descends.” For the kanji 隔, one view is that the left side “hill” signified separating an area, and 鬲 was used phonetically for /kaku/ to mean “to block.” Together they meant “to block; separate.” The second view is that placing a tripod in front of a divine ladder signified separation of a sacred area from a secular area. The third view is that inside the pod (鬲) there was a division between grains at the top and water in the legs to cook the contents, and it signified “to separate.” If we take the first view, “hills separating areas” gave the meaning “to isolate; insulate.” The kanji 隔 means “to separate; insulate.”

The kun-yomi 隔てる /hetate’ru/ means “to leave (a distance); shield; separate.” The on-yomi /kaku/ is in 間隔 (“interval spacing; gap” /kankaku/) and 隔離する (“to isolate; quarantine” /kakuri-suru/).   <the composition of the kanji 隔: 阝 and 一, 口, 冂, 八 and 丅>

  1. The kanji 融 “to melt”

History of Kanji 融In large seal style, in light blue, which predated small seal style, (in this blog we simply call it seal style) and in seal style, it had 鬲 “a clay tripod to cook in,” and 蟲 that was used phonetically for /chuu/ to mean “to come out.” Together steam coming out during cooking gave the meaning of “something melting coming out.” In seal style, the right side 蟲 became 虫. The kanji 融 means “to melt; dissolve.”   <the composition of the kanji 融: 鬲 and 虫>

The kun-yomi 融ける /toke’ru/ “to melt” is not a Jojo kanji reading. The on-yomi /yuu/ is in 金融業 (“financial business” /kinyu’ugyoo/), 金融緩和 (“monetary relaxation” /kinyuukanwa/), 核融合(“nuclear fusion” /kakuyu’ugoo/) and 融解 (“melting; thawing” /yuukai/).

  1. The kanji 徹 “to do thoroughly; penetrate”

History of Kanji 徹(a) in oracle bone style had “a tripod” and “a hand,” signifying “a person laying tripods in a row by hand.” In (b) in bronze ware style “a footprint” was added to signify “keeping on doing something.” It meant “to penetrate; stick to.” (c) in Old style, in purple, had 彳 “a crossroad,” taking the place of “a footprint,” 鬲 “a tripod” and 攴 “to cause an action.” In (d) in seal style 鬲 was replaced by 育. Some scholars view this as miscopied.  The kanji 徹 took (d). The kanji 徹 means “to do thoroughly; penetrate; stick to.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tetsu/ is in 徹底的な (“exhaustive; thorough” /tetteeteki-na/), 貫徹する (“to carry through; achieve” /kantetsu-suru/), 冷徹な (“cool-headed” /reetetsu-na/), and 一徹な (“obstinate; headstrong” /ittetsu-na/).   <the composition of the kanji: 彳, 育 and 攵>

  1. The kanji 撤 “to remove; withdraw”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 徹 is closely related to the kanji 徹, originally having the meaning “finishing laying tripods in a row.” On the left side, instead of 彳, a bushu gyooninben “to go on doing,” 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand,” was used. Together they have two seemingly contradictory meanings – one is “to scatter something by hand” and the other “to remove what was laid out by hand.” The kanji 撤 means “to scatter; remove; withdraw from a previous activity.”  <the composition of the kanji: 扌, 育 and 攵>

The kun-yomi /maku/ means 水撒き (“watering; sprinkling” /mizuma’ki/), 撒き散らす (“to disperse; scatter” /makichira’su/) and豆撒き (“bean-scattering ceremony” /mame’maki/) on Setsubun day. The on-yomi /tetsu/ is in 撤兵する (“to withdraw the troops from abroad” /teppee-suru/) and 撤退する (“to withdraw from activities” /tettai-suru/) and  (案を)撤回する (“to withdraw a proposal” /a’n o tekkai-suru/).

   5.  The kanji 甚 “exceedingly”

History of Kanji 甚In bronze ware style, Old style, and seal style it was a brazier (a portable cooking apparatus) with a pot on top. It meant “to cook food thoroughly over a fire.” From cooking food over a heat well it meant “thoroughly” or “excessively.” This is the account by Shirakawa. Another view that other scholars take is based on the account on Setsumon Kaiji — it signified pleasure between a man and a woman. Looking at the bronze ware style writing a brazier with a pot makes more sense to me until I come across something else in the future. The kanji 甚 meant “exceedingly; intense.” <the composition of the kanji 甚: 其 and an angle on the bottom left>

The kun-yomi 甚だしい (“grossly” /hanahadashi’i/) and 甚だ (“immensely; exceedingly” /hanahada/) as an adverb. The on-yomi /jin/ is in甚大な (“tremendous; enormous” /jindai-na/), 幸甚 (“thankful; grateful” /koojin/) as in the phrase 幸甚に存じます “I appreciate it very much” in a very formal correspondence.

  1. The kanji 勘 “to investigate; perception”

History of Kanji 勘The seal style writing comprised 甚 “thoroughly; exceedingly” and 力 “effort.” Together they meant “to look over thoroughly or check against something else.” In Japanese it is also used to mean “perceptiveness; intuition.” The kanji 勘 means “to investigate; perceptiveness; intuition; sixth sense.” <the composition of the kanji 勘; 甚 and 力>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kan/ is in 勘違い (“misunderstanding” /kanchi’gai/) 勘のいい(“quick on the uptake; intuitive; perceptive” /kannoi’i/), 勘弁する (“to forgive; pardon” /ka’nben-suru/), 勘ぐる (“to suspect; surmise” /kangu’ru/), 勘定 (“calculation; account” /kanjo’o/) and 割り勘にする (“to share expenses with” /warikan-ni suru).

  1. The kanji 堪 “to endure; bear”

History of Kanji 堪The seal style writing comprised 土 “soil; ground,” and 甚 “excessive,” which was used phonetically for /kan; tan/. Together they originally meant “a large mound of soil,” possibly “a kiln” (Shirakawa). What was baked in a kiln went through extreme heat and it gave the meaning “to endure; bear.” The kanji 堪 means “to withstand; bear; tolerate.” <the composition of the kanji 堪: 土へん and 甚>

The kun-yomi 堪える /tae’ru/ means “to suffer; endure,” and is in 堪え難い (“intolerable; unbearable” /taegata’i/), 堪え忍ぶ (to abide; bear; stand” /taeshino’bu/). Another kun-yomi /korae’ru / “to bear suffering” is not a Joyo kanji reading, but the word itself is often used in such phrases as 怒りを堪える (“to restrain one’s anger” /ikari’o korae’ru/) and 堪え性のない (“with no perseverance” /koraeshoo-no-na’i/).

There also are two on-yomi. The on-yomi /kan/ is in 堪忍 (“forgiveness” /ka’nnin/) and 堪忍する (“to be patient with; let someone off” /ka’nnin-suru/), the expression 堪忍袋の尾が切れる (“run out of patience; can no longer put up with” /kanninbu’kuro-no o’-ga kire’ru/). I have just realized to my surprise that the other on-yomi /tan/ is not included even on the revised Joyo kanji list. It is in 堪能な (“proficient; expert” /tannoo-na/) and 堪能する (“to enjoy to one’s content” /tannoo-suru/). Sometimes words that are used often are not included in Joyo kanji, while some of the Joyo kanji are rarely used.

The more complex the kanji the more twists it contains in its history, and sometimes it is not worth the time to spend mulling it over. I am afraid this week’s kanji may belong to that group. Hopefully we shall look at kanji that are more familiar to us next week.  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko  [September 2, 2017]