The Kanji 力協脅脇加賀架勃励劣-agricultural tool (2)

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The second agricultural implement we look at is what became the kanji 力. I have been using the word “plough (plow)” for 力 in the past, because it had teeth or pegs at the end. It is more likely that this was a hand tool, rather than a machine. Should we call it a harrow? I do not know the answer. In this post we stick to the word plough for the time being. The kanji that contain 力 that we are going to explore here are: 力協脅脇加賀架勃励劣.

  1. The kanji 力 “power; strength”

History of Kanji 力For the kanji 力, there are two different views. One view, by Setsumon, is that the bottom suggested that it was a hand, and that the curve at the top in (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, was “muscles in the arm,” and that flexing muscles meant “strength; power.” This view has been the traditional view. Another view in Shirakawa’s Shinjito is that the bottom was “a plough; a digging fork” in the field. In working in the field one had to apply much muscular strength. In this blog we take the second view. The kanji 力 means “power; strength.”  (For the stroke order, you write the angled stroke first.)

The kun-yomi 力 /chikara’/ means “might; power; strength,” and is in 力仕事 (“heavy labor” /chikarashi’goto/). /-Jikara/ is in 馬鹿力を出す (“to give incredible physical strength” /bakaji’kara-o da’su/). The on-yomi /riki/ is in 力量 (“ability; capacity” /rikiryoo/), 馬力 (“horsepower; energy” /bariki/). Another on-yomi /ryoku/ is in 体力 (“physical strength” /ta’iryoku/) and 重力 (“gravity” /ju’uryoku/).

  1. The kanji 協 “to cooperate; give help to others”

History of Kanji 協For the kanji 協, the Old style writing, in gray, comprised 口 “mouth” and 十 “to bundle up to one.” The seal style writing had “three ploughs” together, which was used phonetically for /kyoo/. Together they meant many people work together in a field, giving help to others. The kanji 協 means “to cooperate; give help to others.” <Composition of the kanji 協: a narrow 十 and three力>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi kyoo is in 協力する (“to cooperate; collaborate” /kyooryoku-suru/), 生協 (“co-op” /se’ekyoo/) and 協会 (“association; society” /kyookai/).

  1. The kanji 脅 “to threaten; menace; coerce”

History of Kanji 脅The kanji 脅 and the next kanji 脇 shared the same seal style writing — “three ploughs” and 月 “a part of one’s body”– and yet they have different meanings. For the kanji 脅, the top was used phonetically for /kyoo/ to mean “power,” and the bottom 月 was “a part of one’s body.” Together “powers over one’s body” meant “to threaten; menace; coerce.” <Composition of the kanji: Three 力 and 月>

The kun-yomi 脅す /odosu/ means “to threaten,” and is in 脅し取る (“to blackmail; extort” /odoshito’ru/). The on-yomi /kyoo/ is in 脅迫する (“to intimidate; threaten” /kyoohaku-suru/) and 脅威となる (“to become the menace” /kyo’oi-to-naru/).

  1. The kanji 脇 “side of one’s body; flank; supporting role”

History of Kanji 脇The seal style writing of the kanji 脇 was the same as 脅. In the kanji 脇, “three ploughs lining up” signified “ribs.” Together with 月, a bushu nikuzuki “flesh,” they meant “side (of one’s body); flank.” It also means “supporting role.” The kanji 脇 means “side of one’s body; flank; supporting role.” <Composition of the kanji: 月 and three 力>

The kun-yomi 脇 /waki/ means “one’s side,” and is in 脇役 (“supporting role” /wakiyaku/) and 脇腹が痛い (“to have a pain in the side” /wakibara-ga ita’i/). There is no on-yomi.

  1. The kanji 加 “to add”

History of Kanji 加For the kanji 加 the two bronze ware style writings comprised “a plough; a digging fork” that was placed sideways and “a mouth.” When doing heavy labor in the field adding voice was encouraging in exerting effort. It meant “to add.” The katakana カ and the hiragana か came from the kanji 加. The kanji 加 means “to add.” <Composition of the kanji 加: 力 and 口>

The kun-yomi 加える /kuwaeru/ means “to add,” and 加わる /kuwawaru/ means “to join.” The on-yomi /ka/ is in 追加 (“addition; supplement” /tsuika/), 増加 (“increase” /zooka/), 加味する (“to take something into account” /ka’mi-suru/). 加減 (“addition and subtraction” /kagen/) is also used to mean “one’s condition” in the expression お加減はいかかですか (“How do you feel?” /oka’gen-wa ika’ga-desu-ka?/) in inquiring someone who has been sick.

  1. The kanji 賀 “to celebrate; auspicious”

History of Kanji 賀For the kanji 賀 the bronze ware style writing comprised “a cowrie; valuable,” and “a plough” and “a mouth,” which was phonetically used for /ka/ to mean “to add.” One gave someone a valuable gift at a time of celebration. It meant “to celebrate; congratulate; auspicious occasion.” In seal style and in kanji the cowrie was moved to the bottom. The kanji 賀 means “to celebrate; auspicious.”  <Composition of the kanji 賀: 力, 口 and 貝>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ga/ is in 祝賀会 (“celebratory party” /shukuga’kai/) and 賀正 (“New Year’s greeting in writing” /gashoo/).

  1. The kanji 架 “building something over; to bridge over”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 架. The top 加 was used phonetically for /ka/. 加 above 木 “a tree” signified “building something over at a high place.” The kanji 架 means “to bridge over; building something above.”<Composition of the kanji 架: 力, 口 and 木>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka/ is in 架線 (“overhead wire” /kasen/), 架橋 (“crosslink; bridging” /kakyoo/) and 高架道路 (“elevated road” /kookado’oro/).

  1. The kanji 勃 “to happen abrupt; enegetic”

History of Kanji 勃For the kanji 勃 the left side of the seal style was “a plant whose center was bulging with a seed,” and was used phonetically for /botsu/ to mean “a sudden change; a force pushing out from within.” A child at the bottom may suggest a seed. The right side “plough” added “power.” Together they meant “sudden occurrence.” The kanji 勃 means “to happen abruptly; energetic.”<Composition of the kanji 勃: a truncated 十, , 子 and 力>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /botsu/ is in 勃興 (“sudden rise; rise to power” /bokkoo/) and 暴動が勃発する (“a riot breaks out” /boodoo-ga boppatsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 励 “to strive for; give encouragement; industrious”

History of Kanji 励There is no ancient writing for the kanji 励.  The left side of the kyuji 勵, in blue, for the kanji 励 was used phonetically for /ree/ to mean either “a hard mineral rock” or “a poisonous scorpion.” The right side 力 “plough” signified “hard field work.” Together they meant “to strive for; labor for; be industrious; give encouragement.” In kanji the left side became 厂 and 万. <Composition of the kanji 励: 厂, 万 and 力>

The kun-yomi 励む /hage’mu/ means (“to endeavour; be industrious” /hage’mu/) and in 励ます (“to cheer; support” /gahema’su/). The on-yomi /ree/ is in 奨励する (“to recomment; encourage” /shooree-suru/) and 激励する (“to encourage” /gekiree-suru/).

  1. The kanji 劣 “inferior; to deteriorate”

History of Kanji 劣The seal style writing of the kanji 劣 comprised 少 “a little” and 力 “power.” Together “lack of strength” meant “inferior.” The kanji 劣 means “inferior; to deteriorate.” <Composition of the kanji 劣: 少 and力>

The kun-yomi 劣る /oto’ru/ means “inferior,” and 見劣りする (“pale in comparison” /miotori-suru/). The on-yomi /retsu/ means 劣化する (“to deteriorate” /rekka-suru/) and 優劣をつける (“to judge which is better” /yu’uretsu-o tsuke’ru/).

The year 2017 is almost over. I truly thank our readers who have followed my posting or have visited our site from time to time. Your interest and support have helped me in continuing my weekly writing and preparing my manuscripts for a future book. I wish you and your family a very happy new year.   – Noriko [December 30, 2017]

The Kanji 以似台始胎治冶怠-“agricultural tool” (1)

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It is no wonder at all that many kanji were originated from agricultural implements in ancient life. A long stick with a handle that had prongs, flat piece of wood or animal shoulder bone at the end was used to loosen ground, breaking up lumps in the soil, pulling in and pushing away the soil or flattening the surface. The reference books use the kanji such as 耒, 耜, 鋤, 棃, 鍬, and etc as the explanation. If we look up these kanji in a kanji-English dictionary, various words including “a plough (plow); spade; fork; hoe” come up interchangeably.

What we know from our modern life is that a plough is a large-scale implement with prongs and is pulled by an animal to turn up the ground in a larger area. For a small area among hand implements with a long handle, a spade has a flat wooden or metal blade to remove the soil; a hoe has an angled end to turn and flatten the surface; and a digging fork has long thongs that help to break up the soil. I am not a farmer, so this distinction could be wrong.

Apparently there is a phrase in English “Call a spade a spade,” which means “speak plainly without avoiding unpleasant or embarrassing issues.” My problem is that I am not certain what I have here was a spade, hoe, plough or whatever. In any event, it was a tool that was used to prepare the soil for farming. Enough of my talking to myself. Let us assume that such technicality is irrelevant when it comes to the origin of more than three thousand years old writing. The three shapes I am planning to discuss are ム in this post, and 力 and 方 in the next one or two pots. The kanji we look at in this post are 以似・台始胎治冶怠.

  1. The kanji 以 “to use; by means of; starting from”

History of Kanji 以For the kanji 以 (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal styles was “a hoe” for a field work. It had a bent end to turn up the soil. “An implement that one uses” gave the meaning “using X; by means of.” One’s field work began with it, thus “starting from.” In kanji a person who used a hoe was added on the right side (人). The kanji 以 means “to use; by means of; starting from.”

The kun-yomi 以って /mo’tte/ means “from; by using,” and is in 以ての外 (“the most unreasoable” /motte’-no-hoka/). The on-yomi /i/ is in X以内 (“within X” /X-i’nai/), 3個以上 (“three or more” /sankoi’joo/), 以上です (“That’ll be all” /i’joodesu/), 以下の通り (“as follows“ /i’ka-no to’ori/), 以前 (“previously; once” /i’zen/), 以後 (“onward; afterward” /i’go/) and in the expression 以心伝心 (“telepathy” /i’shin denshin/).

  1. The kanji 似 “to resemble”

History of Kanji 似In bronze ware style the left one had “a hoe,” which was used phonetically for /i; shi/ to mean “to resemble,” and 口 “a mouth.” The right one had “a person” added on the right. Together they meant “a person resembling to another.” In seal style the positions of “a person” and “a hoe” were swapped. In the kanji 似 another person was added to 以. So the kanji 似 contained two people (イ and 人), which would suit very well as mnemonics. The kanji 似 means “to resemble.” <Composition of the kanji 似: イ and 以>

The kun-yomi /niru/ means “to resemble,” and is in 母親似 (“resembling one’s mother” /hahaoyani/), and 似通う (“to resemble closely” /nikayo’u/), 似合う (“to match; fit in” /nia’u/) and in the expression 他人の空似 (“chance resemblance with someone unrelated” /tanin-no-sora’ni/), 似ても似つかない (“do not bear the slightest resemblance to” /nite’mo nitsuka’nai/). The on-yomi /ji/ is in 類似(“resemblance; similarity” /ruiji).

A “hoe” also took the shape ム in the form of 台 in kanji. It is in the kanji 台始胎治冶怠.

  1. The kanji 台 “table; platform; stand”

History of Kanji 台History of Kanji 臺The kanji 台 had the kyuji 臺, which had a different history from 台, as shown on the right. Let us look at the kyuji first. The bronze ware style and seal style writing was “a watch tower,” inside which showed “an arrow hitting the ground” (至). The kyuji 臺 faithfully reflected the seal style writing. It meant “stand; tower; raised level.”

Now the shinji 台 on the left– The bronze ware style and seal style writing comprised ム “hoe,” which was used phonetically for /i/, and 口 “mouth; box.” Together they were the original kanji for 怡 “to be delighted.” 台 is probably a borrowing to mean what the kyuji meant. The kanji 台 means “table; platform; stand.” <Composition of the kanji 台: ム and 口 >

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /dai/ is in 台 (“holder; support; mount’ pedestal” /dai/), 踏み台 (“step; jump server” /humidai/). /-Tai/ is in 舞台 (“stage” /bu’tai/), 台風 (“severe tropical storm; typhoon” /taihu’u/), 屋台 (“a float; stall” /ya’tai/) and 屋台骨 (”the framework; the foundation” /yatai’bone/).

  1. The kanji 始 “to begin; start”

History of Kanji 始For the kanji 始 the bronze ware style writings comprised “a hoe” (ム), which was phonetically used for /shi/, “mouth; speaking” (口) and “woman” (女). The views on the origin vary among kanji scholars. One explains that 台 was used phonetically for /tai; dai/ to mean “womb,” and that with 女 “woman,” from giving a new life to a child, gave the meaning “to begin.” Another explains that it meant “a first-born daughter,” and it means “to begin.” The kanji 始 means “to begin; start.” <Composition of the kanji 始: 女 and 台>

The kun-yomi 始める /hajimeru/ means “to begin; start” (a transitive verb) and 始まる /hajimaru/ (an intransitive verb), and is in 事始め (“beginning of things” /kotoha’jime/). The on-yomi /shi/ is in 開始 (“start” /kaishi/), 始業時間 (“opening time; starting time of work” /shigyooji’kan/), 始終 (“from start to finish; always” /shi’juu/), 始末 (“result; disposal” /shi’matsu/), 終始一貫して(“consistent throughout” /shu’ushi ikkan-shite/).

  1. The kanji 胎 “womb”

History of Kanji 胎The seal style writing of the kanji 胎 comprised 月, a bushu nikuzuki “flesh; a part of one’s body,” and 台, which was used phonetically for /tai/ to mean “to begin.” The part of a body where a life began meant “a womb.” The kanji 胎 means “womb.” <Composition of the kanji 胎: 月 and 台>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tai/ is in 胎児 (“fetus” /ta’iji/), 胎内 (“the interior of the womb; uterus” /ta’inai/) and 胎動 (“quickening; signs of forthcoming event” /taidoo/).

  1. The kanji 治 “to rule; cure (illness)”

History of Kanji 治The seal style writing of the kanji 治 comprised “water,” and “a hoe” (ム) and “a mouth” (口), which was used phonetically for /shi; ji/. In ancient times controlling irrigation water or flood was a very important job for a ruler. The kanji meant “to rule; govern.” The notion was also applied on people, and meant “to cure (illness); recover.” The kanji 治 means “to rule; cure (illness).” <Composition of the kanji 治: 氵 and 台>

The kun-yomi /osame‘ru/ means “to rule; control.” Another kun-yomi 治る/nao’ru/ means “to cure; recover (from illness)” and 治す /nao’su/ is its transitive verb counterpart. The on-yomi /ji/ is in 政治 (“politics” /seeji/), 明治 (“Meiji era 1868-1912” /me’eji/). Another on-yomi /chi/ is in 統治する(“to rule over; govern” /to’ochi-suru/), 治水 (“river improvement; flood control” /chisui/), 自治 (“self-governmence” /ji’chi/), 治療 (“treatment” /chiryoo/) and 治安 (“public order; law and order” /chian/).

  1. The kanji 冶 “to melt metal; finish work beautifully”

History of Kanji 冶For the kanji 冶 in the bronze ware style writing “a hoe” on the  top left and “a mouth” on the right made up the shape 台. The two short lines on the bottom left were metal pieces. Together they meant “melting metal; metallurgy.” The seal style writing had “streaks in ice” that signified smithy work– Like water freezes solid to ice or ice melts to liquid, metal work was melting and solidifying process. It became 冫, a bushu nisui “ice; icy cold” in kanji. The kanji 冶 means “to melt metal; finish work beautifully.” <Composition of the kanji 冶: 冫 and 台>

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ya/ is in 冶金 (“metallurgy” /yakin/).

  1. The kanji 怠 “lazy; to neglect; neglectful”

History of Kanji 怠For the kanji 怠 in bronze ware style and seal style it had phonetically-used 台 /tai/ and “a heart” (心). Together they made up the kanji 怡 /tai/ that meant “joyful.” When you are joyful you are more relaxed and thus become neglectful. The kanji 怠 meant “lazy; to neglect; neglectful.” <Composition of the kanji 怠: 台 and 心>

The kun-yomi /okota’ru/ means “to neglect.” Another kun-yomi is 怠ける (“to be idle; get lazy; slacken one’s efforts” /namake’ru/. The on-yomi /tai/ is in 怠惰な (“lazy” /ta’ida-na/) and 倦怠感 (“physical weariness; feeling of fatigue” /kenta’ikan/).

We shall continue on this topic in the next two posts. Thank you very much for your reading. -Noriko [December 23, 2017]

The Kanji 丁打訂頂予序預幻互緑録克- Tool (2)

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In this second post on kanji that originated from “carpenter’s tools” we are going to explore the kanji 丁打訂頂(丁), 予序預幻(予), 互, 緑録(彔) and 克.

  1.  The kanji 丁 “a square block; counter for a square section”

History of Kanji 丁There are two different meanings associated with the ancient writings of 丁 – one is “an area; a square” and another “a nailhead” that was viewed from above or from the side. (In our blogs, oracle bone style is shown in brown; bronze ware style in green; and seal style in red.) A nail got pounded down flat in a straight angle, thus it meant something “right angle; flat,” and “a square block.” In Japan it is used as a counter for a square block as well as in an address for a section of an areas in a large city, such as 銀座四丁目 (“Fourth block of the Ginza area in Tokyo” /ginza-yonchoome/). The kanji 丁 means “a (square) block; section; counter for a section.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /choo/ is in 丁度 (“just; precisely; barely” /choodo/), and 三丁目 (“3-chome; third block” /sanchoome/). Another on-yomi /tee/ is in 丁寧な (“polite” /te’enee-na/) and 丁重に (“courteously; respectfully” /teechoo-ni/). The expression 一丁上がり /icchooagari/ means “Now finished!; the dish is ready!” We used to buy tofu at a tofu shop by small blocks, such as お豆腐二丁下さい (“May I have two pieces of tofu, please?” /otoohu ni’choo-kudasai/), but nowadays tofu comes in a plastic container in all sorts of sizes and 丁 is no longer needed.

  1. The kanji 打 “to hit; pound on”

History of Kanji 打The seal style writing of the kanji 打 comprised “a hand; an act that one does using a hand” and 丁 “square; a right angle.” Together a hand over a nailhead meant “to hit; strike hard.” 打 was also used to make a word without adding the meaning “to hit.” The kanji 打 means “to hit; pound on.” <Composition of the kanji: 扌and 丁>

The kun-yomi 打つ /u’tsu/ means “to hit; strike hard,” and is in 打ち消す (“to negate; contradict” /uchikesu/) and 打ち上げる (“to launch; conclude” /uchiageru/). The on-yomi /da/ is in 打撃 (“batting; damage; blow” /dageki/), 打者 (“slugger; batter” /da’sha/), 打楽器 (“percussion instructment” /daga’kki/), 打算的な (“calculating” /dasanteki-na/) and 一網打尽 (“making a roundup arrest” /ichimoo-dajin/).

  1.  The kanji 訂 ‘to correct; revise; amend”

History of Kanji 訂The seal style writing of the kanji 訂 comprised 言 “word; language; to say” and 丁 “straight; right angle,” which was used phonetically for /tee/.  Together they meant “to make words right.” The kanji 訂 means “to correct; revise; amend.” <Composition of the kanji 訂: 言 and 丁>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /tee/ is in 訂正 (“correction; revision” /teesee/) and 改訂版 (“revised edition” /kaiteeban/).

  1. The kanji 頂 “summit; top”

History of Kanji 頂The seal style writing comprised 丁 “a flat nailhead,” which was used phonetically for /choo/, and 頁, a bushu oogai “head,” from a man with formal headdress. Together they meant “a flat top area; summit; the top of one’s head.” In Japanese this kanji is also used for a humble verb for “to receive.” Comparing to another kanji 戴 for “to receive,” 頂 is used more casually. The kanji 頂 means “summit; top; to receive (humble style).” <Composition of the kanji 訂:  丁 and 頁>

The kun-yomi 頂く /itadaku/ means “to receive; hold above one’s head,” and is also in 山の頂 “mountain summit” /yama-no-itadaki/). The on-yomi /choo/ is in 頂上 (“top; summit” /choojo’o/), 有頂天 (“ecstatic; rapturous” /ucho’oten/) and 仏頂面をする (“to look sullen” /bucchoozura-o-suru/).

The component 予 appear in 予序預, and oddly in 幻 coming from the upside shape of 予.

  1. The kanji 予 “in advance; preliminary; allowances”

History of Kanji 予For the kanji 予 there are two different writings (a) and (b) in seal style to account for the kyuji (c), in blue, and the shinji (d). (a) was a “weaving shuttle with a thread hanging down.” A weaving shuttle was pushed through the warps that were loosened on the loom. From “making room in advance of a shuttle’s passing” the kanji 予 meant “in advance; preliminary; allowances.” (b) had 象 “elephant,” which had been explained that the large size and slow movement of an elephant signified “large; relaxed; loose.” (c) reflected (b). In shinji, 象 was dropped. The kanji 予 means “in advance; preliminary.” The kanji for the original meaning, a weaving shuttle, is the non-Joyo kanji 杼 with a bushu kihen “wooden.” <Composition of the kanji 予: マ and 了>

The kun-yomi 予め /arakajime/ means “in advance.” The on-yomi /yo/ is in 予定 (“schedule; plan” /yotee/), 余裕 (“allowances; additional coverage” /yoyuu/) and 猶予 (“hesitation; postponement” /yu’uyo/).

  1. The kanji 序 “order; beginning of an order”

History of Kanji 序For the kanji 序, the top left of the seal style writing was the eaves or an addition to a house. Under that 予 “extra room” was used phonetically for /jo/. The extended area next to the main house was used as a place or school where propriety was taught. From that the kanji 序 meant “order; beginning of an order.” It is sometimes used for the word 序でに “while I am at it (I do another thing); taking the opportunity,” perhaps from the sense of order.<Composition of the kanji 序: 广 and 予>

The kun-yomi 序でに “while (you) are at it” (not on the Joyo kanji list). The on-yomi /jo/ is 順序 (“order” /ju’njo/), 秩序 (“order; discipline” /chitsu’jo/), 序曲 (“prelude” /jo’kyoku/), 年功序列 (“seniority system” /nenkoojo’retsu/) and 序の口 (“lowest ranking” /jonokuchi/).

  1. The kanji 預 “to deposit; temporary custody”

History of Kanji 預For the kanji 預 the left side of the seal style writing was 予 “roomy; extra,” which was used phonetically for /yo/. The right side 頁 was a man with a ceremonial hat or a “head.” How they came to mean “to deposit; leave something for a temporary custody” is not clear, perhaps it signified an act that one does for future purpose. The kanji 預 means “to leave for a temporary custody; deposit.” <Composition of the kanji 預:  予 and 頁>

The kun-yomi 預ける /azuke’ru/ means “to deposit; leave for temporary custody” and its intransitive counterpart 預かる /azuka’ru/ means “to keep; take care of.” The on-yomi /yo/ is in 預金 (“bank deposit; saving in a bank” /yokin/).

  1. The kanji 幻 “illusion; magic”

History of Kanji 幻The ancient writing for the kanji 幻 was the upside down image of 予, showing the thread coming out at the top. Pulling a shuttle in the wrong way caused confusion in weaving, signifying something that was not correct or real, thus “illusion.” Very clever!  The kanji 幻 means “illusion; magic.”

The kun-yomi 幻 /maboroshi/ means “illusion.” The on-yomi /gen/ is in 幻想的な (“fantastic; visionary” /gensooteki-na/) and 幻覚 (“hallucination” /genkaku/).

  1. The kanji 互 “each other; alternately”

History of Kanji 互For the kanji 互 the seal style writing was “a tool to make a rope by twisting threads alternately from two of more sides.” The kanji 互 means “each other; alternately.”

The kun-yomi 互い /tagai/ means “mutual; each other” and is in 互い違い (“alternate” /tagaichi’gai/). The on-yomi /go/ is in 交互に (“alternately” /ko’ogo-ni/), 相互の (“mutual” /so’ogo-no/), 互角の (“well-matched; equal” /gogaku-no/) and 互換性 (“compatibility” /gokansee/).

History of Kanji 彔The component 彔 – The right side 彔 of the kyuji for the kanji 緑 and 録 had its own history as shown on the right. It was a twisting devise for wringing wet threads or drilling a piece of wood, creating spills around. It was phonetically /roku/.

10. The kanji 緑 “green”
History of Kanji 緑For the kanji 緑 (a) in oracle bone style and (c) in the styles found in documents, in gray, and (d) in seal style had a skein of threads (糸). The right side was a twisting devise for wringing wet threads or drilling a piece of wood, creating spills around or sawdust. It was also used phonetically for /roku/ to mean “green.” A skein of threads that was green gave the meaning “green.” The kanji 緑 means “color of green.” <Composition of the kanji 緑: 糸, ヨ with a long stroke and 氺>

The kun-yomi 緑 /mi’dori/ means “green.” The on-yomi /ryoku/ is in 緑化運動 (“tree-planting drive” /ryokka-u’ndoo/) and 新緑 (“fresh green; new leaves in spring” /shinryoku/), 常緑樹 (“evergreen tree” /jooryoku’ju/) and 緑茶 (“green tea” /ryokucha/). Another on-yomi /roku/ is in 緑青 (“copper green rust; verdigris patina” /rokusho’o/).

  1.  The kanji 録 “to record”

History of Kanji 録For the kanji 録, in seal style 金 “metal” and 彔 “green” together meant greenish color of bronze ware, on which record of important events were cast, and was used phonetically for /roku/ “to record.” The kanji 録 means “records; to record.” <Composition of the kanji 録: 金, ヨ with a long stroke and 氺>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /roku/ is in 記録 (“record” /kiroku/), 目録  (“catalogue; inventory” /mokuroku/), 実録 (“papers; authentic record” /jitsuroku/), 回顧録 (“memoirs” /kaiko’roku/), 議事録 (“minutes; proceeding of meeting” /giji’roku/) and 登録 (“registration” /tooroku/).

  1. The kanji 克 “to overcome”

History of Kanji 克The kanji 克 had a stream of records from the ancient times. How we interpret them is another matter. One view is that (a) and (b) in oracle bone style (c) in bronze ware style was “a curved knife with a large handle at the top and that a handgrip on the side that was used to core out.” (d) in Old style showed that it had saw-dust. The writing was borrowed to mean “to overcome.” Another view is that the ancient writings was a person with a heavy helmet, sitting with his legs bent and enduring the weight. In this account the kanji shape 克 is explained as a person (兄) with a helmet. In my view whichever appeals to you for your study should be fine. The kanji 克 means “to overcome.” <Composition of the kanji 克: a short 十 and 兄>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /koku/ is in 克服 (“to overcome” /kokuhuku-suru/), 克己心 (“self-control” /kokki’shin/), 克明な (“scrupulous; minute” /kokumee-na/) and 下克上 “social upheaval; junior dominating senior” /gekoku’joo/).

I expect that we shall have a couple or three more posts on kanji that originated from a tool. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [December 16, 2017]

The Kanji 式試拭任妊作昨酢詐搾巨拒距規- Tool (1)

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Our exploration of kanji relationship between common shapes (including bushu shapes) and its origin has entered the fifth year this month. The remaining shapes that I am planning to discuss are tools, containers, bundled objects, and shapes. We begin with tools in this post –the kanji 式試拭・任妊・作昨酢詐搾・巨拒距・規.

  1. The kanji 式 “formula; way of doing; ceremony”

History of Kanji 式For the kanji 式 the seal style writing, in red, comprised 弋 “a wooden stake for marking” and 工 “craft; a tool for carpentry.” Together they signified “a set way of making or doing something” or “formula.” The meaning was also used in a social setting, such as “ceremony.” The kanji 式 means “formula; way of doing; ceremony; style.”  <The composition of the kanji 式: 弋 and 工> (the stroke order breaks up the two components)

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /shiki’/ means “ceremony; style; formula.”  It is in 卒業式 (“graduation ceremony; commencement” /sotugyo’oshiki/), 和式 and 洋式 (“Japanese style, western style” /washiki/ and /yooshiki/), 正式な (“formal” /seeshiki-na/) and 公式 (“formula in mathematics; “official; formal” /kooshiki/).

  1. The kanji 試 “to test; attempt to do something; trial”

History of Kanji 試For the kanji 試 the seal style writing comprised 言 “word; language; to say,” and 式 “a set way of doing,” which was used phonetically for /shi/. Together they meant “to try to find out the correct way to do by inquiring.” In testing an apprentice or applicant, an examiner asked his examinee a question on how he would do certain things. The kanji 試 means “to test; attempt to do something; trial.” <Composition of the kanji 試: 言 and 式)

The kun-yomi 試す /tame’su/ means “to try; attempt; put to a test,” and /-damesi/ is in 力試し (“test of one’s ability” /chikarada’meshi/). Another kun-yomi 試みる /kokoromi’ru/ means “to attempt; test.” The on-yomi /shi/ is in 試験 (“examination” /shike’n/), 試合 (“game; match” /shiai/) and 試行錯誤 (“trial and error” /shikoosa’kugo/).

  1. The kanji 拭 “to wipe; mop”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 拭. The kanji 拭 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand,” and 式, which was used phonetically for /shoku/ to mean “to wipe; clean.” Together they meant to wipe by hand. The kanji 拭 means “to wipe; mop.” <Composition of the kanji 拭: 扌 and式>

The kun-yomi 拭く /hu’ku/ means “to wipe” and is in 手拭き (“hand towel; cloth to dry one’s hands with” /tehuki’/). Another kun-yomi /nugu’u/ also means “to wipe,” and is in 手拭い (“tenugui thin cotton cloth” /tenugui/) and 尻拭いをする (”to clear up someone’s mess or blunder” /shirinu’gui-o-suru/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 払拭する (“to eradicate” /husshoku-suru/).

History of Kanji 壬The next shape 壬 “something thick in the middle” from a smithery table had a bulge in the middle, as shown on the right. It is different from 壬 and 王 in the kanji  廷庭呈程望 (In those kanji the middle line came from a line pointing a straight shin signifying “standing; straight”).

  1. The kanji 任 “to entrust; leave a task with someone”

History of Kanji 任For The kanji 任 the left side of (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, was “a standing person.” The right side was a smithy table with a bulge in the middle and was used phonetically for /jin; nin/. The bulge signifies “burden; responsibility.” Together they meant “a person who bears responsibility or role,” or “one entrusting a burden to someone else.” In (d) in seal style the bulge became another line, bearing the importance of its meaning, and in kanji the top became a slanted short stroke. The kanji 任 means “to entrust; leave a task with someone.” <Composition of the kanji 任: イ and 壬>

The kun-yomi 任せる /makase’ru/ means “to entrust; leave; let something do,” and is in 任せっきり (“to leave everything up to someone else” /makasekkiri/) and 人任せ (“evading responsibility” /hitoma’kase/). The on-yomi /nin/ is in 任命 (“appointment; commission” /ninmee/) and 一任する (“to leave a matter entirely to someone’s care” /ichinin-suru/).

  1. The kanji 妊 “pregnant”

History of Kanji 妊For the kanji 妊, (a) in oracle bone style, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in seal style all comprised 女 “a woman” and 工 with a bulge (壬).” They signified “a woman who has a bulged stomach” — “pregnant.” The kanji 妊 means “pregnant.” <Composition of the kanji 妊: 女 and 壬>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /nin/ is in 妊娠 (“pregnancy” /ninshin/), 妊婦 (“pregnant woman” /ni’npu/), 避妊 (“contraception; birth control” /hinin/) and 不妊 (“infertility” /hunin/).

History of Kanji 乍The shape 乍 appeared frequently in oracle bones to mean “to create; make” and was /saku/ phonetically, and yet, accounts of its origin vary — twigs bent to make a fence; a tool such as an adze chipping off pieces of wood to make craft; woven basket, among others. The history is shown on the right.

  1. The kanji 作 “to make; create”

History of Kanji 作For the kanji 作 in oracle bone style and bronze ware style it was just 乍 “to make; create.” Soon,乍 came to be used in other kanji phonetically, and in order to keep the original meaning “to make” a standing person was added to signify “an act one does.” The kanji 作 meant “to make; create; do; begin.” <Composition of the kanji 作: イ and 乍>

The kun-yomi 作る /tsuku’ru/ means “to make,” and is in  作り方 /tsukurikata/. /-Zuku/ is in 物作り (“making an object by hand; craftsmanship” /monozu’kuri/). The on-yomi /saku/ is in 作物 (“produce” /saku’motsu/) and 工作 (“construction; craft” /ko’osaku/). Another on-yomi /sa/ is in 動作 (“action; movement; gesture” /do’osa/), 作業 (“work” /sa’gyoo/) and 作動する (“to operate; run” /sadoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 昨 “past; last”

History of Kanji 昨For the kanji 昨 the seal style writing comprised 日 “the sun; day” and 乍, which was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “to pass quickly.” A day passing quickly meant “past; last.” The kanji 昨 means “past; last.” <Composition of the kanji 昨: 日 and 乍>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /saku/ is in 昨年 (“last year” /sakunen/), 一昨年 (“the year before last” /issakunen/), 昨日 (“yesterday” /saku’jitu; kinoo/) and 昨今 (“these days” /sak’konn/).

  1. The kanji 酢 “vinegar”

History of Kanji 酢We have looked at the kanji 酢 quite recetly in connection with the bushu 酉 “cask for fermented liquid.” The right side 乍 was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “something past.” Rice wine that went bad was vinegar. The kanji 酢 means “vinegar.” For sample words, please refer to the earlier post.  <Composition of the kanji 酢: 酉 and 乍>

  1. The kanji 詐 “to deceive; lie”

History of Kanji 詐The writings in bronze ware style and seal style comprised 言 “word; language; to say” and 乍, which was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “deceive.” Together they meant “to break oath.” The kanji 詐 means “to deceive; lie.” <Composition of the kanji 詐: 言 and 乍>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sa/ is in 詐欺 (“fraud; swindle” /sa’gi/).

  1. The kanji 搾 “to wring; squeeze; exploit”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 搾. 搾 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand,” and 穴 “a hole” and 乍, which was used phonetically for /saku/ to mean “to force something into a small hole.” Together they meant “to wring; squeeze.” It is also used to mean “to extort.” The kanji 搾 means “to squeeze; exploit.” <Composition of the kanji 搾: 扌, 穴 and 乍>

The kun-yomi 搾る /shibo’ru/ means /to squeeze/ and is in 乳搾り (“milking” /chichishi’bori/). The on-yomi /saku/ is in 搾取する (“to exploit” /sa’kushu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 巨 “huge; giant; gigantic”

History of Kanji 巨For the kanji 巨 (a) and (b) in bronze ware style was “a large carpenter’s rectangular ruler with a handle in the middle,” and (c) had “a person who was holding a ruler” added. There were two different writings in seal style — (d) had “an arrow (矢),” which was used to measure a short object, “a large ruler” (巨) and a wooden object (木), whereas (e) returned to the original shape of a large ruler only. The kanji 巨 means “huge; giant; gigantic.” <The stroke order of 巨 begins with the vertical line>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 巨大な (“huge; gigantic; colossal” /kyodai-na/) and 巨人 (“giant” /kyojin/).

  1. The kanji 拒 “to prevent; refuse; reject”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 拒. The kanji 拒 comprises 扌, a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand,” and 巨, which was used phonetically for /kyo/ to mean “to prevent.” One account says that the shape of a large carpenter’s rule was similar to a side bar for preventing traffic. The kanji 拒 means “to prevent; refuse; reject.”

The kun-yomi /koba’mu/ means “to reject; prevent.” The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 拒絶 (“refusal; rejection” /kyozetu/) and 拒否 (“refusal; turning down” /kyo’hi/).

  1. The kanji 距 “distance”

History of Kanji 距For the kanji 距 the bronze ware style writing had 足 “foot,” and a shape that was used phonetically for /kyo/. The short line in the middle was considered to be similar to a spur of a chicken, and that a chicken leaping a long distance signified “distance.” The kanji 距 means “distance.” <Composition of the kanji 距: あしへん and 巨>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 距離 (“distance” /kyo’ri/).

  1. The kanji 規 “standard; criterion”

History of Kanji 規One last tool we look at in this post came from “a compass to draw a circle.” For the kanji 規 the left side of the seal style writing looked like that of the kanji 夫, but it did not share the same origin – it was “a compass to draw a circle,” possibly using two short arrows. “A tool that was used to draw a circle” gave the meaning “standard; criterion.” The right side was 見 “to look at.” The kanji 規 meant “standard.” <Composition of the kanji 規: 夫 with a short fourth stroke and 見>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 規準 (“standard; criterion; norm” /kijun/) and 規定 (“regulation” /kitee/), and /-gi/ is in 定規 (“ruler” /jo’ogi/).

Well, the article has ended up a little too long here. I had better end it here. We shall continue this topic in the next post. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [December 9, 2017]

The Kanji 酌釣的約是堤提題卓悼卑碑 Food (9)

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A couple of months have passed since our last post on kanji that originated from an item related to food. (Thank you very much for your patience.) There is one more post I would like to add –“a ladle” or “a spoon” in a smaller size. A ladle is a long-handled utensil to scoop up food or liquid in a shallow cup on one end. I find it rather peculiar to think that such a domestic utensil created different shapes that survived in many kanji. But here they are, in the shapes of 勺是卓 and 卑.

History of Kanji 勺We begin our exploration with 勺 “ladle; dipper.” The shape 勺 in seal style shown on the right was a ladle with its cup filled with food or liquid – the short line in the middle was what was scooped up. It meant “a ladle” or “to scoop up or out.” As the shape came to be used phonetically in various kanji, a bushu 木 “wooden” was added to keep the original meaning – 杓. The kanji 杓 is a non-Joyo kanji, and is used in the word 柄杓 (“dipper; ladle” /hishaku/). A hishaku was indispensable to scoop up water in kitchen and at a water fountain, but it has become less used in the age of tap water. The kanji that contains 勺 we discuss here are 酌釣的約.

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

History of Kanji 酌We looked at the kanji 酌 quite recently in connection with the bushu 酉 “fermented liquid container.” In bronze ware style, in green, and seal style, in red, it comprised 酉 “a wine cask; fermented liquid container,” and 勺 “a ladle to scoop up,” which was also used phonetically for /shaku/. Together they meant “a ladle scooping up wine.” The kanji 酌 means “to serve wine; scoop up sake.”

The kun-yomi 酌む /kumu/ means “to pour,” and is in 酒を酌む “to have a drink (together)” /sake-o-kumu/) and 事情を酌む (to consider circumstances” /jijoo-o-kumu/). The on-yomi /shaku/ is in お酌する (“to pour sake; fill someone’s cup with sake” /o-shaku-suru/).

  1. The kanji 釣 “to fish; lure”

History of Kanji 釣The seal style writing had 金 “metal,” and the right side 勺 “a ladle” was used phonetically for /choo/. Together they meant “a fishing hook” to catch a fish and lift up. It is also used to mean “to lure.” The kanji 釣 means “to fish; lure.” <The composition of the kanji 釣: 金 and 勺>

The kun-yomi 釣り /tsuri/ means “angling; fishing“ and is in 釣り銭 (“change” /tsurisen/) and 釣り合い (“equilibrium; compatibility” /tsuriai/). The verb 釣る/tsuru/ also means “to allure; entice.” For the on-yomi /choo/, I cannot think of any useful word. The only time when I heard it in the on-yomi was in my college time, a very long time ago I must add, when a classmate of mine said that she was a member of 釣魚会 /choogyokai/ “anglers’ club.”

  1. The kanji 的 “accurate; target; having a characteristic of”

History of Kanji 的The seal style writing had 日 “the sun,” and 勺 was used phonetically for /teki/ to mean “bright.” Together they meant “bright.” Something bright stands out and becomes a precise target. The kanji 的 means “accurate; target; pertinent.” Adding 的 to a noun as an affix makes an adjective “having a characteristic of.” <The composition of the kanji 的: 白 and 勺>

The kun-yomi 的 /mato/ means “target.” The on-yomi /teki/ is in 日本的 (“having a characteristic of Japanese culture” /nihonteki-na/, 的確な (“accurate” /tekikaku-na/)  and 的中する (“to hit the mark” /tekichuu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 約 “to promise; cut back; summarize; about”

History of Kanji 約For the kanji 約 in seal style 糸 “a skein of threads” signified “to tie” and 勺 was used phonetically for /yaku/. Together tying something with a thread meant “to bind; promise.” Bundling things into one also gave the meaning “to summarize” and “about.” The kanji 約 means “to promise; cut back; summarize; about.” <The composition of the kanji 約: 糸 and 勺>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /yaku/ is in 約束する (“to promise” /yakusoku-suru/), 公約 (“campaign pledge” /kooyaku/), 約百メートル (“approximately 100 meter” /ya’ku hyakume’etoru/), 節約 (“economy; saving; thrift” /setsuyaku/) and 要約 (“summary; abstract” /yooyaku/).

The next shape for a ladle is 是. This shape too came to be used in other kanji phonetically. So a new kanji was created for its original meaning “ladle” by adding another “spoon” ヒ. The kanji 匙 (“spoon” /sa’ji/) is non-Joyo kanji, even though the word saji is a daily word, as in 小匙 (“teaspoon“ /kosaji/) and 大匙 (“tablespoon” /oosaji/). The expression 匙を投げる /sa’ji-o-nageru/ means “to give up in despair; throw in the towel.” The shape 是 is used phonetically in kanji 堤提題.

  1. The kanji 是 “this; right”

History of Kanji 是I must admit that the old writing (a), (b) and (c) in bronze was style does not appeal to me as a spoon, but many scholars agree that it was a spoon. So, I try. The top was a cup part of a dipper and the bottom was a decorative handle. It was borrowed to mean “this,” pointing the correct thing, thus “right.” The kanji 是 means “this; right.” <The composition of the kanji 是: 日 and the bottom of 定>

The kun-yomi /kore/ “this” is not a Joyo kanji reading. The on-yomi /ze/ is in 是非 in two different accents and meanings– When pronounced as an unaccented word /zehi/), it means “right and wrong,” as in 是非を問う (“to question the propriety” /zehi-o-to’u/), whereas an accented word /ze’hi/ means “by some means or other.” It is also in 是非もなく (“unavoidable; inevitable” /zehimona’ku/) and 社是 (“motto of a company; guiding precepts of a company” /sha’ze/).

  1. The kanji 提 “to carry; put forward something (by hand)”

History of Kanji 提The seal style writing comprised “hand,” which became , a bushu tehen “an act that one does using a hand,” and 是, used phonetically for /tee/. Together they meant “to carry in hand; put forward something (by hand).” <The composition of the kanji 提: 扌 and 是>

The kun-yomi /sage‘ru/ means “to carry in hand” and 手提げ (“handbag” /tesage’/). The on-yomi /tee/ is in 提出物 (“work to be submitted” /teeshutsu’butsu/) and 問題提起 する (“to institute; start; raise” /mondaite’eki-suru/).

  1. The kanji 堤 “bank; dike”

History of Kanji 堤The seal style writing comprised 土 “soil; ground,” and 是, which was used phonetically for /tee/ to mean “to stagnate.” Together they meant “a pile of dirt that stayed; dike; bank.” The kanji 堤 means “bank; dike.”  <The composition of the kanji 堤: 土 and 是>

The kun-yomi 堤 /tsutsumi’/ means “bank,” and is in 川堤 (“riverbank; riverside” /kawazu’tsumi/). The on-yomi /tee/ is in 堤防 (“bank; dike; levee” /teeboo/) and 防波堤 (“breakwater; seawall” /boohatee/).

  1. The kanji 題 “title; topic; theme; question”

History of Kanji 題The left side of the seal style writing (是) was used phonetically for /dai/ to mean “to put forward.” The right side (頁) originally meant “the head of an official with a formal hat.” One would put “title or topic” at the very beginning at the top, thus it also meant “topic; title; question.” The kanji 題 means “title; topic; theme; question.” <The composition of the kanji 題: 是 and 頁>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /da’i/ is in 題 and 題名 (“title; name” /da’i/ and /daimee/) and 課題 (“subject; topic” /kadai/).

Two more 卓 and 卑 are below.

  1. The kanji 卓 “table; to stand out; table”

History of Kanji 卓The origin of the kanji 卓 is obscure. But some scholars explain that the top of the writing in bronze ware style and Old style, in purple, and seal style was ヒ “a spoon” and that below that was “a large spoon.” A large spoon stood out and meant “to stand out.” Another view takes the top to be “a person” and 早 “early; to lead,” together signifying a person leading “to stand out.” It is also used to mean “a table.” The kanji 卓 means “to stand out; table.”  <The composition of the kanji 卓: ト and 早>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /taku/ is in 食卓 (“dining table” /shokutaku/), 卓上扇風機 (“table-top fan” /takujoo-senpu’uki/) and 卓越する (“to excel in; surpass” /takuetsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 悼 “to grieve; mourn”

History of Kanji 悼The seal style writing comprised 忄 “heart” and 卓, which was used phonetically for /too/. The kanji 悼 means “to grieve; mourn.” <The composition of the kanji 悼: 忄 and 卓>

The kun-yomi 悼む /ita’mu/ means “to grieve; mourn.” The on-yomi /too/ is in 哀悼 (“grief; mourning” /aitoo/) and 追悼演説 (“memorial address; funeral oration” /tsuitooe’nzetsu/).

  1. The kanji 卑 “lowly; humble; crude; abject”

History of Kanji 卑The top of the writing in bronze ware style and seal style was “a spoon with a handle,” and the bottom was “a left hand.” One view is that a left hand holding a spoon somehow meant “someone who did lowly work.” The kanji 卑 means “lowly; humble; crude; abject.” If you compare the kyuji, in blue, and the shinji closely, there is a difference – In the kyuji the vertical line in the center goes through bending toward left, reflecting the handle of a spoon bending in seal style. In kanji it became separated as a short stroke.

The kun-yomi 卑しい /iyashi’i/ means “crude; vulgar; low.” The on-yomi /hi/ is in 卑屈な (“servile; lack of moral courage” /hikkutsu-na/), 卑下する (“to deprecate oneself; have a low opinion on” /hi’ga-suru/), 卑近な例 (“familiar example” /hikin-na-re’e/) and 卑怯な (“coward; mean” /hi’kyoo-na/).

  1. The kanji 碑 “stone monument; stone stele”

History of Kanji 碑The seal style comprised 石 “rock; stone,” and 卑, used phonetically for /hi/ to mean “upright.” Together they meant “a stone that stood straight up.” The kanji 碑 means “stone monument; stone stele.” <The composition of the kanji 碑: 石 and 卑>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hi/ is in 石碑 (“stone monument; stela” /sekihi/) and 碑銘 (“monument inscription” /himee/).

We have had nine posts on kanji that originated from food preparation. It included food on a raised bowl with a lid (食), a steamer (曽), a pot on a kitchen stove (甚), a three-legged clay grain storage (鬲), a fermented liquid container (酉), various scales to measure grain (量料升良), a bowl or vessel (皿), and a ladle and a spoon (勺是卓卑). For the next area of kanji origin I am thinking about tools and containers. Thank you very much for your reading.  — Noriko  [December 3, 2017]