The Kanji 通勇湧踊全詮栓傘 Container (4) 


In this fourth post on kanji that originated from a container and a lid, we are going to look at two common shapes, 甬 “a hollow cylindrical shape” that signified “to go through; fall through” in the kanji 通勇湧踊, and a bushu hitoyane (𠆢 or 亼) “cover” in the kanji 全詮栓傘.

History of Kanji 甬The shape 甬 had its own history shown on the right. There are different views on this shape. One is a person stamping his feet on a pole to push through a board. In this post we take the view that it was a hollow cylindrical shape that was formed by assembling pieces of wood. Being hollow gave the meaning “to fall through.” It is phonetically /yoo; too/.

  1. The kanji 通 “to pass through; go and come back regularly; commute”

History of Kanji 通For the kanji 通 (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, had “a crossroad” on the left and 甬 “a hollow cylindrical shape,” signifying “to fall through,” and “a footprint” in (a) added. Together they meant “to move on past a crossroad” or “to pass through.” In (c) in bronze ware style, in green, in addition to the two components it had “a round shape” at the top indicating “a rounded cylindrical shape,” such as a pail,” which changed to a マ shape in kanji. In (d) in seal style the footprint moved to the left side, and together with a crossroad they formed 辵, which coalesced into 辶, a bushu shinnyoo “to move forward.” Not having an obstacle in the passage also meant “to go and come back regularly.” It is also used in communication in speaking and telephone, etc. The kanji 通 means “to pass through; go and come back regularly; understand.” [Composition of the kanji 通: 甬 and 辶] (Please note that in writing 辶 has a wiggly line, as shown in the kanji in the table.)

The kun-yomi 通う /kayou/ means “to commute.” Another kun-yomi 通る /to’oru/ means “to pass by,” and is in 通り (“road” /toori/), 見通しだ (to be expected” /mitooshi-da/) and その通り(“True; exactly” /sono-to’ori/).  The on-yomi /tsuu/ is in 日本語が通じる (“be able to communicate in Japanese” /Nihongo-ga-tsuujiru/), 交通 (“traffic” /kootsuu/), 通信 (“communication” /tsuushin/), 通過する (“to pass through” /tsuuka-suru/), 通用する (“to be used; be accepted” /tsuuyoo-suru/) and 精通している (“familiar with; knowledgeable with” /seetsuu-shiteiru/).

2. The kanji 勇 “courage; brave”

History of Kanji 勇For the kanji 勇, the top of (a) in bronze ware style had “a hollow cylindrical shape,” signifying “to go through,” and was used phonetically for /yuu/. The bottom was “a plough,” signifying “to exert one’s strength.” Together they meant “one’s strength spurting.” (b) in Old style had “a heart” rather than “a plough” at the bottom. In seal style (c) had the two components placed side by side whereas (d) had “a halberd” instead of “a plough.” Together they meant to muster up one’s strength to do something. Bravery involves spurts of strength. The kanji 勇 means “courage; brave.” [Composition of the kanji 勇: マ, 田 and 力]

The kun-yomi /isamashi’i/ means “brave,” and is in 勇んで  (“in high spirits; with a light heart” /isa’nde/) and 勇み足 (“over-eagerness; rash” /isami’ashi/), as in 勇み足をする (to make a careless mistake by rushing”). The on-yomi /yu/ is in 勇気 (“courage” /yu’uki/), 勇敢な (“brave” /yuukan-na/), 勇退 (“voluntary retirement” /yuutai/) and 蛮勇 (“recklessness” /ban-yuu/).

  1. The kanji 湧 “to spring out”

History of Kanji 湧The seal style writing of the kanji 湧 comprised “water” and 甬 which was used phonetically for /yuu/ to mean “through.” Together they meant “water springing out from a well.” The kanji 湧く means “to bubble up; spring out.” [Composition of the kanji 湧: 氵and 勇]

The kun-yomi 湧く /waku/ means “to spring out.” The on-yomi /yuu/ is in 湧出する (“water springs out” /yu’ushutsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 踊 “to dance”

History of Kanji 踊The seal style writing of the kanji 踊 comprised 足 “leg; foot” and 甬 used phonetically for /yoo/ to mean “to bubble up.” Together they meant “legs jumping up and down.” The  kanji 踊 means “to dance.” [Composition of the kanji 踊: 足へん and 甬]

The kun-yomi /odoru/ means ‘to dance,” and is in 盆踊り (“Bon festival group dancing” /bon-o’dori/). The on-yomi /yoo/ is in 舞踊 (“dancing” /buyoo/).

The next shape called a bushu hitoyane means “a cover.” The name comes from the shape of the kanji 人 and had not relation to its meaning. /Yane/ means “roof.”

  1. The kanji 全 “complete; perfect; to fulfill”

History of Kanji 全For the kanji 全  (a) in Large seal style, in light blue, had “a roof or cover” (𠆢 or 亼) that signified “to gather things under one cover”– a bushu hitoyane. The bottom was a set of flawless perfect jewels or jems (王). (b) in Old style had decoration that was in symmetry. The kanji 全 meant “complete; perfect; to fulfill.” [Composition of the kanji 全: 𠆢  and 王]

The kun-yomi 全く~ない (“completely not” /mattaku ~ na’i/). The verb 全うする /mattoo-suru/ means “to carry out; fulfil completely.” Another kun-yomi 全て /su’bete/ means “all.” The on-omi /zen/ is in 完全に (“completely; perfectly” /kanzen-ni/), 全部 (“all; entirety” /ze’nbu/) and 全然~ない (“not at all” /zenzen ~na’i/).

  1. The kanji 詮 “to discuss thoroughly; in the end”

History of Kanji 詮The seal style writing comprised 言 “word; language” and 全 “complete; thorough” used phonetically for /sen/. Together they meant that “details were worked out or elucidated.” It also means “to think thoroughly” and “in the end.” [Composition of the kanji 詮: 言 and 全]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sen/ is in 詮索する (“to pry; inquire” /sensaku-suru/), 所詮は (“after all” /shosen-wa/) and 詮議する(“to give due consideration” /se’ngi-o suru/).

  1. The kanji 栓 “stopper; plug”

There is no ancient writing. The kanji 栓 comprises 木 “wood” and 全, which was used phonetically for /sen/ to signify “stopper; plug.” A wooden piece was used as a wedge or stopper. The kanji 栓 means “stopper; plug; wedge.” [Composition of the kanji 栓: 木 and 全]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 栓 /sen/ means “stopper; plug,“ as in ワインに栓をする (“to cork a bottle” /wain-ni sen-o-suru/), 水道の元栓 (“the main valve of water supply” /suidoo-no motosen/) and 耳栓 (“ear plug” /mimisen/).

  1. The kanji 傘 “umbrella”

The kanji 傘 does not have ancient writing. The kanji 傘 has a canopy (𠆢), folding frames (four 人) and a central rod (十). It meant an umbrella. It also meant a protecting force for many different things. The kanji 傘 means “umbrella; parasol; protecting force.” [Composition of the kanji 傘: 𠆢, two 人, 十 and two 人]

The kun-yomi /kasa/ means “umbrella,” and is in 傘立て (“umbrella stand” /kasata’te/).   /-Gasa/ is in 雨傘  (“rain umbrella” /amaga’sa/) and 日傘 (“parasol” /higa’sa/).

We shall continue exploring kanji that originated a container in the next posts  -Noriko [February 11, 2018 –Japan time]

The Kanji 金全銅同銀鉄鋼針銭-かねへん(1)


In this and next posts we are going to look at kanji that contain 金 the bushu kanehen “metal.” There are quite a large number of kanji with a kanehen among the Joyo kanji. There seem to be no oracle bone style samples of any kanji for the shape 金.

  1. The kanji 金 “metal; gold; money”

History of Kanji 金The generally accepted explanation of the kanji 金 is the Setsumon’s explanation that the top originated with 今, which was used phonetically for /kin/, and that the bottom was glistening metal nuggets in soil. I imagined a scene in nature or a mine with a roof. (In this blog, oracle bone style writing is shown in brown, bronze style writing is in green, and ten style writing is in red.) I would like to add another explanation (proposed by Shirakawa) – it was the composite of another kanji 全 and pieces of copper for casting. To understand this, the history of the kanji 全 is useful. So let us make a detour to look at the origin of the kanji 全.

The kanji 全 “complete; to fulfill”

History of Kanji 全For the kanji 全, the Setsumon’s explanation for (c) was that it consisted of a bushu hitoyane and 工. It also explained it earlier shapes, (a) and (b), as flawless perfect jewels or gems (王 is the same as 玉 “jewel; gem”). From that the kanji 全 meant “complete; perfect; to fulfill.” Shirakawa explained (a) as 佩玉 /haigyoku/ “gems strung together worn by a noble on the waist in a ceremony.” In this view the whole kanji was a single image of the jewelry rather than a composite of two components.

The kun-yomi 全く/mattaku/ means “completely; entirely.” 全うする /mattoo-suru/ means “to fulfill one’s mission; accomplish one’s purpose.” The on-yomi /ze’n/ is in 全部 (“whole; all” /ze’nbu/), 全体 (“the whole; entirely” /zentai/), 完全に (“completely; perfectly” /kanzen-ni/).

Now back to the kanji 金. In ancient times in China “metal” referred to bronze. It makes sense that the term 金文 is translated as “bronze ware style writing” in kanji history. Five kinds of metal were named by their color —黄金, from “yellow metal,” meant gold [金]: 黒金, from “black metal,” meant iron [鉄] ; 白金, from “white metal,” meant silver [銀]; 赤金, from “red metal,” meant copper [銅]; and 青金, from “blue metal,” meant lead [鉛].

The kun-yomi 金 /kane/ means “metal,” and is in お金 /okane/ meaning “money,” 金持ち “rich; wealthy” /kanemo’chi/). /-Gane/ is in 有り金 (“money left” /arigane/), and 黄金 (“golden; gold” /kogane/). /Kana-/ is in 金物 (“metal” /kanamono/). The on-yomi 金 /ki’n/ is a kan-on and means “gold,” and is in 借金 (“debt; borrowing money” /shakki’n/), 金属 (“metal” /ki’nzoku/), 金髪 (“blond hair” /kinpatsu/). Another on-yomi /kon or gon/ is a go-on and is in 黄金 (“golden” /oogon/). The word 金色 is read in two way — /kin-iro/ “golden” in kan-on reading; and /konjiki/ “golden” in go-on reading.

  1. The kanji 銅 “copper”

History of Kanji 銅For the kanji 銅, the bronze ware style writing had “metal” on the left side, and the right side was used phonetically for /do’o/ to mean “red.” Together they meant “red metal” (赤金), which is “copper.” The kanji 銅 means “copper.” When 金 is used on the left side it is called a bushu kanehen. Bronze is 青銅, which is a yellowish brown color but when rusted 銅 becomes greenish blue (緑青 “verdigris” /rokusho’o/).

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /do’o/ means “cupper” and is in 赤銅色 (“reddish dark color” /shakudooiro/), 青銅器 (“bronze ware” /seedo’oki/), 銅像 (“bronze statue” /doozoo/).

The kanji 同 “same; identical”

History of Kanji 同The right side of the kanji 銅 is the kanji 同 “same.” In oracle bone style and bronze ware style, it had a piece of board at the top and a hole at the bottom. A hole that went through boards enabled them to become one, which signified “the same.” In ten style, a part of the board became a line inside. The kanji 同 means “same; identical.”

  1. The kanji 銀 “silver”

History of Kanji 銀(frame)This kanji has been discussed over two years ago in the post Eyes Wide Open (4) 限, 眼, 根, 恨, 痕, 銀 and 退 on April 7, 2014. The ten style writing of the kanji 銀 had “metal” on the left. The right side was used phonetically to mean “white.” “White metal” (白金) meant “silver.” (In modern use, 白金 means platinum.) For sample words, please refer to the earlier post.

  1. The kanji 鉄 “iron”

History of Kanji 鉄黒金 “black metal” meant “iron.” The kanji 鉄 had a kyujitai 鐵, which came from ten style. In ten style the left side was metal; the center and right side together were used phonetically to mean “reddish black.” Together they meant “metal that becomes red when rusted,” which was “iron.” In shinjitai, the right side became the kanji 失, which resembled the pre-ten style writing, in purple.

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /tetsu/ means “iron.” It is in 鉄道 (“railroad; railway” /tetsudoo/), 私鉄 (“private railway” /shitetsu/), as in the nationally owned railway (国有鉄道 or 国鉄), which is now called JR (/jeea’aru/) after privatization in 1987, 地下鉄 (“subway; underground railway” /chikatetsu/), 鉄則 (“iron rule” /tessoku/), 鉄砲 (“gun; firearms” /teppoo/), 鉄火巻き (“sushi roll with pieces of raw tuna inside” /tekkamaki/), from the red color of heated iron and tuna.

  1. The kanji 鉛 “lead”

History of Kanji 鉛For the kanji 鉛, the left side was “metal,” and the right side was used phonetically for /e’n/ to mean “to flow along” (as in the kanji 沿 “to go along; follow”). Lead melts at a low temperature and runs quickly. From that the kanji 鉛 meant “lead.”

The kun-yomi /namari/ means “lead.” The on-yomi /e’n/ is in 鉛筆 (“pencil” /enpitsu/), 亜鉛 (“zinc” /a’en/), 無鉛ガソリン (“unleaded gasoline” /muenga’sorin/).

  1. The kanji 鋼 “steel”

The kanji 鋼There is no ancient writing for the kanji 鋼. The left side 金 was “metal.” The right side 岡 meant “a hardy mold that had been baked at a high temperature.” Together “hard and strong metal/iron” meant “steel.“ Steel, a hard, strong, gray alloy of iron with carbon is used extensively as a structural and fabricating material.

The kun-yomi 鋼 /hagane/ means “steel.” The on-yomi /ko’o/ is in 鉄鋼業 (“steel industry” /tekko’ogyoo/).

7. The kanji 針 “needle”

History of Kanji 針The orthodox writing (正字) for the kanji 針 was 鍼. The ten style writing of 鍼 had “metal” on the left, and the right side 咸 was used phonetically. History of Kanji 十This kanji is now used to mean “acupuncture,” an alternative pain treatment using needles. In shinjitai kanji 針, the 十 shape on the right side came from a needle with a bulge in the middle, as in the kanji 十 shown on the right. The kanji 針 means “needle.”

The kun-yomi /ha’ri/ means “needle,” and is 時計の針 (“clock hand” /tokee-no-ha’ri/) and 針金 (“thin wire” /harigane/). /-Bari/ is in 縫い針 (“sewing needle” /nuiba’ri/). The on-yomi /shi’n/ is in 方針 (“guideline” /hooshin/), 秒針 (“second hand” /byooshin/) and メーター検針 (“inspection/reading of a meter” /meetaake’nshin/).

  1. The kanji 鐘 “bell”

History of Kanji 鐘The kanji 鐘 consists of a bushu kanehen and the kanji 童. We have looked at the unusual origin of the kanji 童 in the previous post [The Kanji 東動働重童 on January 6, 2015.] Here it was used phonetically for /do’o/ only. The bronze ware style writings (a) and (b) became (c) in ten style. Another ten style writing (d) was also given in Setsumon as an alternative. The kanji 鐘 means “bell.”

The kun-yomi 鐘 /kane/ means “bell.” The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 警鐘 (“alarm bell” /keeshoo/).

  1. The kanji 銭 “money”

History of Kanji 銭For the kanji 銭, the left side in ten style was “metal.” The right side had two halberds, 戔, giving the sound /se’n/ and also meant “shaving something thinner.” Together they originally meant a plough that had thin blades. There were plough-shaped coins. From that it meant “money.” The kyujitai 錢, in blue, reflected ten style. The shinjitai simplified the right side, and it means “money; small change; coin.”

The kun-yomi 銭 /ze’ni/ means “money,” and is in 小銭 (“small change” /kozeni/) and 身銭を切る (“to pay for from one’s own pocket” /mizeni-to-ki’ru/). The on-yomi /se’n/ is in 金銭 (“money” /ki’nsen/), 一銭 (“one-hundredth of a yen” /isse’n/), 守銭奴 (“miser; scrooge” /shuse’ndo/).

There are many more kanji with a bushu kanehen. We will continue with them in the next post. [June 25, 2016]