This blog on the etymology of Japanese kanji (Chinese characters) is maintained by Noriko Williams. She writes about small groups of kanji that share the same origin and component shapes in current kanji. Her discussions trace back origins of each kanji, using ancient writing that she recreated from photos of ancient inscriptions and writings.
She is the author of an origin-based illustrated kanji reference entitled The Key to Kanji – A Visual History of 1100 Characters -漢字絵解き (2010. Cheng and Tsui Company, Boston) and the creator of a video clip collection for learning 90 kanji radicals (bushu) entitled “Bushu: The Kanji Makers – From Meanings to Shapes” on the American University iTunes U (2011, 2012.)
Recently retired from classroom teaching of many years, she has started a free online kanji study course for mature Japanese language learners. It is called VISUAL KANJI and is open to anyone who wants to study a large number of kanji and vocabulary. The title of the course comes from its premises that in ancient writing the shapes of Chinese characters were visualizations of their meanings, and that this connection of shape and meaning is still reflected in modern kanji and can be useful for a Japanese kanji learner. The URL is http://www.visualkanji.com and free.
Contact: visualkanji@@@gmail.com. (Please remove two @@.)
アウル先生 Auru Sensei, pictured here in a haori coat, was created by Ayako Williams. He was a long-time friend of Dr. Williams in her Japanese classes. He appeared in many of the study materials that she developed, along with his students Penta (ペン太) and Ginko (ギン子).