The Kanji 方放倣訪芳坊房防妨肪旁傍-Agricultural tool (3)


As the last post on kanji that originated from an agricultural implement we explore 方 this week. 方 is used phonetically either as /hoo/, as in the kanji 方放倣訪芳, or /boo/, as in the kanji 坊房防妨肪旁傍.

  1. The kanji 方 “direction; option; a square; method”

History of Kanji 方For the kanji 方 in (a) and (b) in oracle bone style, in brown, (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, in green, and (e) in seal style, in red, it was “a plough with a long handle” in which the handle pointing to directions, right and left, the pole at the top and the bottom with tines. From that it signified “four or all directions.” A direction is an “option.” Four directions make “a square.” The kanji 方 means “way; direction; option; a square; method.”

The kun-yomi /kata/ means “way,” as in やり方 (“the way to do” /yarikata/) and in a person in honorific style, as in 出席なさる方 (“a person who attends” /shusseki-nasa’ru-kata/). The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 方向 (“direction” /hookoo/), 方法 (“method; way to do” /hoohoo/), 四方 (“all directions; surrounding” /shiho’o/), 方々 (“everywhere” /ho’oboo/) and 方形 (“rectangular shape” /hookee/), 地方 (“country; rural area; local” /chiho’o/) and 一方で (“on the other hand” /ippo’o-de/).

  1. The kanji 放 “to release; free; emit”

History of Kanji 放For the kanji 放 the bronze ware style writing comprised 方 “all directions” used phonetically for /hoo/ and 攴 “a hand moving a stick,” which eventually became 攵, a bushu bokunyoo/bokuzukuri “to cause” in kanji. Together they meant “a hand letting a thing disperse to various directions; to release.” The kanji 放 means “to release; free; emit; cast.” [Composition of the kanji 放: 方 and 攵]

The kun-yomi /hana’su/ means “to release; let go,” and is in /hana’tsu/ “to emit; let out,” as in 光を放つ (“to give off light; flash” /hikari’o hanatsu/). /-Bana-su/ is in 手放す (“to part with; relinquish; sell” /tebana’su/) and 野放しにする (“to let run loose” /noba’nashi-suru/). The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 放送 (“broadcast” /hoosoo/), 放牧 (“grazing” /hooboku/), 釈放する (“to discharge; release” /shakuhoo/) and 追放 (“deportation; exile” /tuihoo/).

  1. The kanji 倣 “to follow; take after; emulate”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 倣. The kanji 倣 comprised イ, a bushu ninben “an act that one does,” and 放 used phonetically for /hoo/ to mean “to imitate,” together signifying “to take after.” The kanji 倣 means “to follow; take after; emulate.” [Composition of the kanji 倣: イ, 方 and 攵]

The kun-yomi 倣う /nara’u/ means “to follow; emulate; copy.” The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 模倣する (“to imitate; copy” /mohoo-suru/).

    4. The kanji 訪 “to visit; travel to”

History of Kanji 訪For the kanji 訪 the seal style writing comprised 言 “word; language; to say” and 方 “direction” used phonetically for /hoo/, together signifying “asking how to get to a place” when one visited someone. The kanji 訪 means “to visit; travel to.” [Composition of the kanji 訪: 言 and 方]

The kun-yomi 訪れる /otozure’ru/ means “to visit; come.” The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 訪問 (“visit” /hoomoo/) and 来訪する (“to be visited by” /raihoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 芳 “fragrant; good”

History of Kanji 芳For the kanji 芳 the seal style writing comprised 艸 “plants” and 方 “to emit; cast” used phonetically for /hoo/. A fragrant plant spreads its aroma in all directions. It is also applied on person having good reputation. The kanji 芳 means “fragrant; good.” [Composition of the kanji 芳: 艹and方 ]

The kun-yomi 芳しい  /kanbashi’i/ means “fragrant.” The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 芳香 (“aroma; sweet smell” /hookoo/) and 芳名録 (“visitor’s book list” /hoome’eroku).

The next kanji 坊房防妨肪旁傍 are all pronounced as /boo/.

  1. The kanji 坊 “tyke; youngster”

History of Kanji 坊The seal style writing of the kanji 坊 comprised 土 “gound; soil” and 方 “a square area” used phonetically for /boo/. Together they originally meant “a block or a section of an area or a house” that was on the ground. The kanji 坊 means “section; living quarters in a temple.” It is also used as a suffix (often affectionately) to mean “tyke; youngster.”  [Composition of the kanji 坊: 土へんand 方]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /bo’o/ is in 赤ん坊 (“baby” /akanboo/), 朝寝坊 (“late riser” /asane’boo/), 忘れん坊 (“forgetful person” /wasurenboo/), 坊主 (“Buddhist priest” /bo’ozu/) and 坊主頭 (“shaven head; close-cropped hair” /boozua’tama/).

  1. The kanji 房 “room; quarters; tassel”

History of Kanji 房The seal style writing of the kanji 房 comprised 戸 “a single door” and 方 “a square” used phonetically for /boo/. Together they meant “a small quarter that was located on the side of a house.” From that it meant “living quarters; room.” A tassel hangs loosely on the side from the main body, and it meant “a tassel.” The kanji 房 means “room; quarters; tassel; something hanging.” [Composition of the kanji 房: 戸 and 方]

The kun-yomi /husa/ is used as a counter for grapes, as in 一房, and /-busa/ is in 乳房 (“breast” /chibusa/). The on-yomi /boo/ is in 冷房 (“air-conditioner” /reeboo/), 女房 (“wife” /nyo’oboo/) and 文房具 (“stationery; writing materials” /bunbo’ogu/).

  1. The kanji 防 “to prevent; defend”

History of Kanji 防In seal style the left writing of the kanji 防 comprised a bushu kozatohen “mountains; dirt wall” and 方 “four directions” used phonetically for /boo/. The second writing had 土 added to emphasize “dirt.” Together they signified “a high dirt wall that was built to prevent an enemy from coming in.” The kanji 防 means “to prevent; defend.” [Composition of the kanji 防: 阝 and 方]

The kun-yomi 防ぐ /huse’gu/ means “to prevent.” The on-yomi /boo/ is in 予防 (“prevention” /yoboo/), 防衛 (“defence” /booee/) and 堤防 (“dike; embankment” /teeboo/).

  1. The kanji 妨 “to obstruct; hamper”

History of Kanji 妨The seal style writing of the kanji 妨 comprised 女 “woman; female” and 方 used phonetically for /boo/ to mean “to prevent,” perhaps related to 防. Together preventing to come close to a woman meant “to obstruct.” The kanji 妨 means “to obstruct; hamper.” [Composition of the kanji 妨: 女へん and 方]

The kun-yomi 妨げる /samatage’ru/ means “to obstruct,” and is in 妨げとなる (“to become an obstacle” /samatage-to-na’ru/). The on-yomi /boo/ is in 妨害する (“to hinder; obstruct” /boogai-suru/).

  1. The kanji 肪 “fat”

History of Kanji 肪The seal style writing of the kanji 肪 comprised 月 “a part of a body,” which become a bushu nikuzuki, and 方used phonetically for /boo/ to mean “to spread out.” The part of one’s body that spreads out meant “fat; corpulent.” The kanji 肪 means “fat.” [Composition of the kanji 肪: 月 and 方]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /boo/ is in 脂肪 (“fat” /shiboo/), 脂肪分 (“fat content” /shibo’obun/) and 牛脂 (“beef fat” /gyuushi/).

  1. The kanji 旁 “right side component of kanji”

History of Kanji 旁The kanji 旁 is used for the word 旁 /tsukuri/ “the right side of kanji that usually carries a phonetic feature,” in contrast to 扁 /hen/ “the left side of kanji that usually carries a semantic feature.” The kanji 旁 is not a frequently kanji at all. (It does not come in among the 2200 kanji by frequency in Tokuhiro (2014).) Nonetheless for us kanji learners it may pop up sometimes, so we include it here.

The shape at the top of (a) in oracle bone style and (c) in bronze ware style appeared in the ancient writings of other kanji (such as 凡 and 同 among other kanji), and is generally viewed as “a board”  A board signifies “a square with four sides. (b) had a bar in which two ends were marked. It meant “side.” The kanji 旁 meant “side; on the side.”

  1. The kanji 傍 “side; to stand by”

History of Kanji 傍The seal style writing of the kanji 傍 comprised “an act that one does” and 旁 “on the side,” used phonetically for /boo/. Together they signified “a person standing by the side” (for a reason.) The kanji 傍 means “side; to stand by.” [Composition of the kanji 傍: イand 旁]

The kun-yomi 傍 /katawara/ means “side.” The on-yomi /boo/ means 傍観する (“to look on; stand by” /bookan-suru/) and 傍聴席 (“seat for the public; pubic gallery” /boocho’oseki/).

In the next post, we shall move onto a group of kanji that originated from a container or something that holds stuff. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [January 6, 2018]

The Kanji 限除余防方険剣障章際祭隣 – こざとへん(3)


This is the third post on kanji with a bushu kozatohen. We are going to look at 限除余防方険剣障章際祭隣.

(1) The kanji 限 “boundary; bounds; to limit”

History of Kanji 限The kanji 限 was discussed earlier in connection with 艮 “to halt; go against; immobile.” [Eyes Wide Open (4) 限眼根恨痕銀退 on April 7, 2014]  艮 has been given a number of different interpretations among references. One is that the top was an eye and the bottom was a “person facing backward,” and together they meant a situation in which a person was unable to move forward facing a big evil eye. Another is that the bottom was a “knife,” instead of a person, and a cut around the eye made by a knife became a scar, thus signifying “to remain; stay.” A third view is that 艮 was used only phonetically to mean “to remain.”  The history of 限  is shown above in two bronze ware styles, in green, and ten style, in red. Whichever explanation we take on the right side, the left side was a mountain or a stack of dirt raised high that deterred one from going forward. From one’s inability to move forward, the kanji 限 meant “boundary; bounds; to limit.”

The kun-yomi 限る /kagi’ru/ means “to limit” and is in 見限る (“to abandon; turn one’s back on” /mikagiru/), 限りない (“endless; best” /kagirina’i/.) The on-yomi /ge’n/ is in 最大限 (“maximum” /saida’igen/), 制限 (“restriction” /seege’n/), 上限 (“upper limit; cap”/joogen/), and 期限 (“time limit” /ki’gen/).

(2) The kanji 除 “to remove”

History of Kanji 除In the bronze ware style sample of the kanji 除, the right side 余 was used phonetically to mean “(time/money/space) to spare; latitude.” How did the shape 余 get that meaning? The history of the shape seems to have been well documented, and example are shown on the right.

History of Kanji 余(frame)The kanji : One view is that for the oracle bone style (a) and bronze ware style (b), it was a surgery needle with a handle to remove lesions. In (c) and ten style (d) the two ハ-like lines were added to mean “to open a wound to remove soemthing.” Removing something that was not wanted came to mean “to have extra space; what is left; latitude.” Another view is that it was a spade that removed dirt and meant something extra. The two ハ shapes signified dirt that was removed to make a hole. (One view of the origin of the kanji 穴 “hole” is consistent with this.)

In the kanji 除, a kozatohen providing “dirt,” and 余 used phonetically together meant 除 “to remove extra dirt.” I must admit that this explanation is not as convincing as it is with some other kanji. But we must be prepared to accept that fact that not all kanji can be explained logically.

  1. The kanji 防 “to prevent; defend”

History of Kanji 防For the kanji 防, the ten style sample (the middle one) had a kozatohen on the left and the kanji 方 on the right. The 方 was used phonetically to mean something that went sideways. An alternative ten style in Setsumon (the left one) had 土 “soil” at the bottom to emphasize “dirt.” Together they signified a high dirt wall on all sides to prevent an enemy from coming in. The kanji 防 meant “to prevent; defend.” The kun-yomi /huse’gu/ means “to prevent.” The on-yomi /bo’o/ is in 防止 (“prevention” /booshi/), 予防 (“preventive” /yoboo/) and 防衛 (“defense”/booee/).

History of Kanji 方(frame)The kanji 方 — There are many different views on the origin of 方. One is that it was a hoe with a long handle and that the handle pointing on either side and the pole at the top and the bottom together signified “four directions.” A different direction is an “option.” Four directions make a “square.” Another view is a little disturbing. It was a body that was hanged in a public display. As I look at the oracle bone style (a) and bronze ware style samples (b), I am beginning to see how they were explained that way. The sideways line with two short lines at the end is very similar to the origins of the kanji 央 ”center,” and the shape in the center looks like a person viewed from the side. Why did a hanging dead body in a public display mean “direction”?  Shirakawa explained that it was placed at the boundaries of surrounding barbarian countries, thus denoting various directions. When the explanation goes to mystic ancient customs, there is no way for us to judge it. So i leave it as it is. The kanji 方 means “direction; option; square.”

  1. The kanji 険 “danger”

History of Kanji険%0D%0D 険%0D%0DHistory of Kanji 険For the kanji 険, the right side in ten style was an interesting shape – under a cover there were two sets of a box and a person placed side by side. The kyujitai, in blue, retained those elements (僉) in any of the kanji that took this shape (検剣験倹). It is explained as people grading goods under a cover, signifying “to examine; check,” or “people listening to an order of the god” (from the kanji 命). It was used phonetically in many kanji. It is true in the kanji 険 that a kozatohen “mountain; hills,” phonetically used on the right right side together meant “perilous; danger.”

The kun-yomi 険しい /kewashii/ means “steep; challenging; grim.” The on-yomi /ke’n/ is in 危険 (“dangerous” /kikenna/), 保険 (“insurance” /hoken/) and 陰険な (”sly; double-dealing” /inkenna/).

History of Kanji 剣(frame)The kanji 剣– I was curious about where the right side of the kanji 険 came from. The kanji 検 験 and 倹 came in ten style only, but the kanji 剣 “bayonet; sword” came in bronze ware style, as shown on the right. The left sample consisted of a roof at the top, two people at the bottom and a shape in the middle, which I cannot recall seeing elsewhere. (I have a feeling that I will come across it one day) In the second bronze ware style sample the left side was minerals buried in mine. The right side had the same component of ten style, but the curious thing is that the feet of the people were tied together. No semantic explanation on these can be found in references. So, this did not help us much to understand the origin of the right side of the kanji 険, 検, 験, 倹, and the left side of 剣. The shared pronunciation /ken/ in Japanese tells us that it was used phonetically in those kanji, but I would certainly like to know what happened before that.

  1. The kanji 際 “peripheral; edge”

History of Kanji 際In ten style the kanji 際 had a kozatohen “boundary” and the kanji 祭 “festival” that was used phonetically for /sa’i/. It meant “edge; peripheral.”

The kun-yomi 際 /kiwa’/ means “boundary; peripheral” and is in 際どい (“dangerous; bordering on the immoral” /kiwado’i/). /GIwa/ is in 窓際 (“window side” /madogiwa/), 〜瀬戸際 ( “the critical moment of doing” /setogiwa/). The on-yomi /sa’i/ is in 国際的 (“international” /kokusaiteki/) and 交際 (“acquaintance; relationship” /koosai/).

History of Kanji 祭(frame)The kanji  The origin of the kanji 祭 has no relationship in meaning with the kanji 際, but it reminds us what a festival was about. In oracle bone style (a) and (b) it contained a hand and a piece of meat (in a reverse position), and droplets of sake in the middle. It was sacrificial animal meat being sanctified with sake. A sacrificial animal played an important role in ancient Chinese society, including a cow, sheep, pig and dog. In (c) and (d) in bronze ware style, an altar table was added. A festival was a prayer to a god and a celebration of him. The kanji 祭 means “festival.”

  1. The kanji 障 “to block; hinder”

History of Kanji 障For the kanji 障, the ten style sample had a mountain or stack of dirt on the left, and the right side was the kanji 章, which was used phonetically for /sho’o/ to mean “fence.” Together they meant “to block; hinder.”

The kun-yomi 障る /sawaru/ means “to interfere with; irritating” and is in 差し障り (“adverse effect; obstacle” /sashisawari/). /zawa/ is in 目障りな (“offensive to the eye” /meza’warina).  The on-yomi /sho’o/ is in 故障する (“to break down” /koshoo-suru/). 障害 (“hindrance; obstacle” /shoogai/) and 障子 (“shoji paper screen” /shoji/).

History of Kanji 章(frame)The kanji The kanji 章 and 障 are not semantically related. Our reader may find the origin of 章 a little surprising, shown on the right. It was a pictograph, i.e., the entire shape was a single image. The image was a tattooing needle with a big handle at the top and a large ink reservoir in the middle. The needle tattooed a pattern clearly and distinctly, and it signified something that was drawn or written beautifully, such as a badge, chapter, etc. The kanji 章 means “badge; chapter.”

  1. Additional notes on the kanji 隣 “neighbor”

History of Kanji 隣 (frame)In the four postings we have looked at kanji that had the shape . When this shape appeared on the right it meant “village” and was called a bushu oozato, whereas when it appeared on the left side it meant “mountain; hills; ladder; soil stacked up high,” and was called a bushu kozatohen. Generally the side on which it appeared was so important that they never switched their positions. There is a possible exception to this. That is the kanji 隣 [One Foot at a Time (4) 傑燐憐隣 – Two feet off the ground posted on July 28, 2014] The kyujitai for 隣 was 鄰 with a oozato. Many treat 隣 with a kozatohen as “informal variant.” Shirakawa gave samples of bronze ware style, as shown on the right (a) and (b), and said that 隣 was the correct writing. Sample (b) is convincing, but I cannot find the same shape in Akai or other references. So for the time being, we can imagine that onibi in a mountain or hills was used phonetically for “neighborhood; people live in a cluster,” and a village was added to solidify the meaning.

We have spent a lot of time in the last four posts to poke around kanji that have a oozato and kozatohen. We can expect similar findings in other kanji that we did not look at, such as 隙 隆 陥 among the Joyo kanji. We continue our exploration of ancient writing that originated from human habitat. Maybe we should revisit the bushu shinnyoo/shinnyuu, which had the two elements “footprint” and “crossroad” coalesced into one bushu. Thank you very much for your interest. -Noriko   [November 29, 2015]