The Kanji 机処拠飢其基期棋碁欺-“table; base”(1)几其


There are different components of kanji that originated from “a table.” In this posting two types of tables, 几 and the bottom of 其, are discussed: the kanji 机処拠飢 and 其基期棋碁欺.

  1. The kanji 机 “desk”

History of Kanji 机For the kanji 机, in seal style (a) was a low table with a leg on each side. It was used as a low table, a chair to sit on or an armrest. In (2) “wood” (木) was added on the left side. A wooden low table (机) meant “desk; writing table.”

The kun-yomi 机 /tsukue/ means “desk,” and is in 文机 (“low writing table” /huzu’kue/) and 学習机 (“a desk with shelves, a lamp and other features  that are designed for a grade school pupil” /gakushuuzu’kue/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in 机上の空論 (“impractical theory” /kijoo-jo-kuuron/).  <The composition of the kanji 机: 木 and 几>

  1. The kanji 処 “place”

History of Kanji 処For the kanji 処, (a) and (b) in bronze ware style, in green, had a person wearing a tiger headdress for a votive play sitting on a chair, with his legs stretched in front. The foot was facing sideways, which might have signified “not moving forward.” Together they meant “to stay; be at a place; do something so that it goes better.” From that it meant “to handle; deal with.” In seal style, in red, in (c) a tiger (虎) was dropped, leaving a backward/backward foot (夂) and a chair (几), whereas in (d) a tiger became the top that enclosed 夂 and几. The kyuji 處, in blue, reflected 4, whereas the shinji 処 reflected 3. The kanji 処 means “place; situation; to handle; deal with.”   <The composition of the  kanji 処: 夂 and 几>

The kun-yomi 処 /tokoro/ means “place.” The on-yomi /sho/ is in 処理 (“to process; handle” /sho’ri/), 処分 (“to dispose; punish” /sho’bun/), 対処する (to deal with; handle” /ta’isho-suru/), 処世 (“conduct of life” /shosee/), 処刑 (“to execute; put to death” /shokee/) and 処する (“to deal; manage; punish” /shoru’ru/).

  1. The kanji 拠 “to be based on”

History of Kanji 拠The seal style writing had “hand” on the left side. The right side had “a tiger” and “a boar; pig,” but was used phonetically for /kyo/. Together they meant “to be based on a (particular) place.” The right side of the kyuji 據 was different from the kyuji 處 for 処, as in (e) in 2 above, but in kanji (拠) it became 処.   <The composition of the kanji 拠: 扌, 夂 and 几>

The kun-yomi 拠る /yoru/ means “to be caused by; based on” and 拠り所とする (“to rely on; make it as its base” /yoridokoro-to-suru/). The on-yomi /kyo/ is in 拠点とする (“to be based in ~” /kyoten-to suru/), 拠点 (“base; strong foothold” /kyoten/), 拠出する (“to contribute; donate” /kyoshutu-suru/) and 典拠 (“authority; reliable source” /te’nkyo/).

History of Kanji - Bottom of 其The next shape for a table or base appears as a component only. (There is no font on MS Word for Mac that we can use in text. It is shown on the right in a graphics file. (It is like 六 without the top.) It meant “a place to put something on; base.” This shape is seen in 其基期棋碁欺.

  1. The kanji 飢 “to starve; hunger”

History of Kanji 飢For the kanji 飢 in seal style, (a) comprised covered food on a raised bowl (食)  and 几, which was used phonetically for /ki/. It meant “hunger; to starve.” (b) had 幾 on the right, which was used phonetically for /ki/ to mean “little.” The kanji 飢 reflected (a).  <The composition of the kanji 飢: a bushu shokuhen (one fewer stroke than 食) and 几>

The kun-yomi 飢える /ue’ru/ means “to be starved; famished.” The on-yomi /ki/ is in 飢饉 (“famine” /ki’kin/), 水飢饉 (“water shortage; drought” and 飢餓 (“starvation” /ki’ga/).

  1. The kanji 其 “that; the”

History of Kanji 其The kanji 其 is not a Joyo kanji. (a) in oracle bone style and (b) in bronze ware style was a winnowing basket for removing chaff from grain, and was /ki/ phonetically. In (c) in bronze ware style and (d) in seal style the basket was placed on a base. The writing was borrowed to mean “the; that.”

The kun-yomi /so/ is in 其の他 (“other than it” /sono’ta/) and 其の件 (“the matter” /sonoke’n/). There is no on-yomi.

  1. The kanji 基 “base; foundation”

History of Kanji 基For the kanji 基, the bronze ware style writing comprised a winnowing apparatus with its base (其), which was used phonetically for /ki/, and “soil; ground” (土). Together they meant the ground on which a building was built — “foundation; base.” In seal style, the same components were kept. The kanji 基 means “basis; base; foundation.”  <The composition of the kanji 基: 其 and 土>

The kun-yomi 基 /moto/ means “base; foundation.” The on-yomi /ki/ is in 基本 “base; foundation; basis” /kihon/), 基盤 (“base; foundation” /kiban/), 基準 (“criterion; standard; reference” /kijun/), 基金 (“fund; monetary fund” /ki’kin/), 基地 (“base; military base” /ki’chi/) and 基礎 (“base; pedestal; groundwork” /ki’so/).

  1. The kanji 期 “specific time; period­; to expect”

For the kanji 期 the bronze ware style writing had “the sun” at the top, and 其, which was used phonetically for /ki/ at the bottom. Together they meant “a specific time or period.” In Old style, in purple, the sun was inside the base. In seal style, on the right side the sun was replaced by a moon (月).  A moon had a cycle of waxing and waning — “thus, a cycle of time.” The kanji 期 means “specific time; period­; cycle of time; to expect.”  <The composition of the kanji 期: 其 and 月>

There is no kun-yomi. There are two on-yomi. The kan-on /ki/ is in 期日 (“term; due date” /ki’jitsu/), 期間 (“duration; period” /ki’kan/), 任期 (term of service; term of office” /ni’nki/), 期待する (“to hope for” /kitai-suru/) and 予期する (“to anticipate; expect” /yo’ki-suru/). The go-on /go/ is in 末期 (“the hour of death; the end of one’s life” /ma’tsugo/). (末期 in kan-on /ma’kki/ means “end stage; advanced stage,” not necessarily connoting one’s death.)

The next two kanji 棋 and 碁 have rather specialized use– a checkerboard or a game that was played on a square board. It came from a square shape of a winnowing apparatus.

  1. The kanji 棋 “checkerboard”

History of Kanji 棋The seal style writing comprised 其, which was used phonetically for /ki/ to mean “square shape,” and “wood” (木) below. Together they meant a square checkerboard. The kanji 棋 is only used for the words that are related to Japanese shogi play 将棋 /shoogi/, in which the kanji 将 /sho’o/ means “commander; general.”  <The composition of the kanji 棋: 木 and 其>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /gi/ is in 将棋 (“Japanese chess” /shoogi/).

  1. The kanji 碁 “go play”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 碁. The kanji comprised 其 “square” and 石 “stone.” A game that uses a square board and small stones is a game of go. The kanji 碁 means “play of go; game of go.”  <The composition of the kanji 碁: 其 and 石>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /go/ means “a play of go/, and is in 囲碁 (“game of go” /i’go/), a more formal name than just /go/, 碁盤 (“go board; checkerboard” /goban/) and 碁石 (“small round stones in black or white used for go play” /goishi/).

  1. The kanji 欺 “to deceive”

History of Kanji 欺The seal style writing comprised 其, which was used phonetically for /gi/, and a person with his mouth open wide (欠).  Setsumon stated that the kanji 欺 meant “to deceive.” (I feel this is not exactly an explanation, but I do not have any better one for now.)  <The composition of the kanji 欺: 其 and 欠>

The kun-yomi /azamu’ku/ means “to deceive; cheat.” The on-yomi /gi/ is in 詐欺 (“fraud; swindle” /sa’gi/) and 欺瞞 (“deception” /giman/).

In this posting I experimented with a new feature as a study guide – <the composition of the kanji …>. I thought it might give our exploration in ancient writing a better “landing” on the shape we want to learn. That is the goal of our exploration after all.  Because we cannot embed graphics in the middle of a WordPress sentence, I do not know if we can do this with all kanji in the future or not. We shall see how far we can do. Thank you very much for your reading.  – Noriko [July 15, 2017]

The Kanji 業乗楽薬林森条査染机案極 – 木 “tree” (3)


In the last two posts, we explored kanji that originated from “tree.” In all of these kanji (休本体末抹朱株 and 未妹味昧制製果課裸菓, except 休) the shape 木 for “tree” was sort of hidden in a different shape. I would like to add a couple more to this group–業乗. We then start exploring kanji in which 木 appears as it is as a bottom or left component –楽薬林森条査染机案極.

  1. The kanji 業 “work; skills; deed; act”

History of Kanji 業For the kanji 業, the top of (a) in bronze ware style, in green, and ten style (c), in red, had notches to hang a number of musical instruments, and the bottom was its stand. This view came from Setsumon and is the prevalent view in references. The fact that such a stand became writing suggests the importance of musical instruments in a ceremony and religious rite in ancient times. It came to be used to mean “skills; work; one’s deed.” On the other hand Shirakawa takes the view that it was wooden frames that were used to ram dirt down to make a strong foundation or wall, and that from those boards in construction 業 came to mean “work” in general. In Buddhism it is used for “karma” from the Sanskrit word that meant “deed; act.”

The kun-yomi 業 /waza’/ means “work; deed; act,” and is in 仕業 (“one’s doing; act” /shiwaza/). The on-yomi /gyo’o/ is in 工業 (“manufacturing industry” /ko’ogyoo/), 産業 (“industry” /sangyoo/), 業務 (“work; service” /gyo’omu/), 授業 (“class; lecture” /ju’gyoo/). Another on-yomi 業 /goo/ means (“karma; inevitable retribution”).

  1. The kanji 乗 “to climb; ride”

History of Kanji 乗(frame)We looked at the kanji 乗 exactly two years ago in connection with “foot.” [One Foot at a Time (3) 無舞乗 on July 20, 2014.] The oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style writings was a man standing on top of a tree with his two feet anchored outward for a sure foothold. It meant “to ride, to get aboard.” There is another interpretation for the two feet in the ten style writing – two people (ヒ) were sitting on a tree. The kyujitai writing, in blue, reflected ten style. In shinjitai, the two feet, or people, lost their shape and became short lines. For sample words, please refer to the earlier post.

  1. The kanji 楽 “music; pleasant; enjoyable; comfortable”

History of Kanji 楽There are different views on what the top of the kanji 楽 originated from — a swing drum on a stand (Setsumon); bells with a handle which had ornamental threads on both sides (Shirakawa); a string instrument, from a fingernail (白) plucking two strings of threads (幺) (Kadokawa); and acorns on a kunugi tree that were used phonetically to mean “fun; to enjoy.” A musical instrument making pleasant rhythmic sounds meant “music; pleasant; enjoyable; comfortable.” The kyujitai writing 樂 reflected ten style but it was simplified to 楽 in shinjitai.

The kun-yomi 楽しい /tanoshi’i/ means “enjoyable,” and is in 楽しみにする (“to look forward to” /tanoshi’mi-ni-suru/). The on-yomi /ga’ku/ is in 音楽 (“music” /o’ngaku/). Another on-yomi /raku/ is in 気楽な (“carefree; easygoing” /kiraku-na/) and 楽々と (“with great ease” /rakura’ku-to/).

  1. The kanji 薬 “medicine; pharmaceutical”

History of Kanji 薬The kanji 薬 has a bushu kusakanmuri “plant; plant life; vegetation” on top of the kanji 楽. The bottom 楽 was used phonetically for /raku/ to mean “medicinal herb.” Together they meant “medicine; pharmaceutical.” Just like 樂, 薬 was simplified to 薬

The kun-yomi /kusuri/ means “medicine; herbal medicine,” and is in 薬屋 (“pharmacy; drug store” /kusuriya/). /-Gusuri/ is in 飲み薬 (“internal medicine” /nomigu’suri/) and 目薬 (“eye drop” /megu’suri/). The on-yomi /yaku/ is in 薬品 (“medicine; chemicals” /yakuhin/).

The next two kanji are self-explanatory –林森.

  1. The kanji 林 “wooded area”

History of Kanji 林In all the ancient writings in three styles shown on the left, it had two trees side by side. They meant “woods; grove.” When 木 is placed on the left side of a kanji, it is a bushu kihen, and the fourth stroke becomes short.

The kun-yomi /hayashi/ means “wooded area; grove.” The on-yomi /ri’n/ is in 林立する (“to stand close together”/rinritsu-suru/), as in 高層ビルが林立する (“crowded with high-rise buildings” /koosoobi’ru-ga rinritsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 森 “forest”

History of Kanji 森In oracle bone style the kanji 森 had three trees, either in a triangle shape or side by side. A lot of trees meant “forest.” Deep in a forest also gave the meaning “mystic.”

The kun-yomi /mori/ means “forest.” The on-yomi /shi’n/ is in 森林 (“forest” /shinrin/). The phrase 森羅万象 /shi’nra banshoo/ means “all things in nature.”

  1.  The kanji 条 “line; streak”

History of Kanji 条The kanji 条 had the kyujitai 條. The ten style writing had quite a few discrete items– the left side was a person; the middle vertical line was water trickling down; and the right side had a hand holding a stick at the top and (a branch of) a tree. In an earlier post on the bushu bokuzukuri/bokunyoo [Kanji Bushu ぼくづくり攵・攴(1) 改攻枚教 on October 18, 2014], we saw that “a hand holding a stick” became a bushu bokuzukuri/bokubyoo (攴・攵) and meant “action; to cause an action.” In ten style all the components together made up the meaning of “a standing person being purified with water sprinkled  by shaking a twig of a tree.” From “trickle of water” it meant a long thin lines or a sentence line in a document such as a section or article of law. In shinjitai, curiously the line for water trickling down that meant “line” disappeared together with a person. Only the right side remained, but even then 攵 changed to 夂 “backward.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /jo’o/ is in 条件 (“condition” /jooke’n/), 条約 (‘treaty” /jooyaku.), 条例 (“ordinance; regulations” /jooree/), 一条の光 (“a ray of light” /ichi’joo-no hikari/) 憲法九条 (article 9 of the Japanese Constitution) and the phrase 金科玉条 (“golden rule” /ki’nka gyokujoo/).

  1. The kanji 査 “to inspect”

査(kanji)査 was not discussed in Setsumon. In kanji, the bottom 且 was used phonetically for /sa/. The use of 査 to mean “to examine” was said to have come from a dialectal use or borrowing.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sa/ is in 検査 (“inspection” /ke’nsa/), 査定 (“assessment” /satee/), 査証 (“visa” /sashoo/), 審査 (“examination; investigation” /shi’nsa/), 調査 (“survey; investigation” /cho’osa/) and 巡査 (“police constable” /junsa/).

  1. The kanji 染 “to dye”

History of Kanji 染The ten style of the kanji 染 had “water; liquid” on the left side. The right side was wilted leaves and a tree, signifying tree extract to dye. Together soaking fabric in tree extract liquid meant “to dye.” The kanji 染 meant “to dye.”

The kun-yomi 染める /someru/ means “to dye.” In Japan it is also used for 染みる (“to soak; permeate” /shimiru/, as in 心に染みる (“to sink into one’s heart” /kokoro’-ni shimiru/). The on-yomi /se’n/ is in 染色 (“dyeing” /se’nshoku/), 染料 (“dye” /senryo’o/), 感染 (“infection” /kansen/) and 汚染 (“contamination; pollution” /osen/).

  1. The kanji 机 “desk”

History of Kanji 机In ten style, the left writing was a low stand with a leg on two sides. It was also used as a stool to sit on or an armrest. The right ten style writing had “wood” on the left. A wooden low table became the kanji 机 “desk; writing table.”

The kun-yomi /tsukue/ means “desk,” and is in 文机 (“low writing table” /huzu’kue/). The on-yomi /ki/ is in the expression 机上の空論 (“a mere theory; an academic theory that cannot be put into practice” /kijoo-no-kuuron/).

  1. The kanji 案 “plan; proposal; to worry”

History of Kanji 案For the kanji 案, the top 安 was used phonetically for /a’n/. The bottom 木 “wood” signified a wooden table. (For the discussion of the kanji 安, please read the previous post [Kanji Radical 女 おんなへん – 女好妹要妻安 on November 23, 2014].) One thought about a matter in order to make a proposal at a desk. From that, it meant “plan; proposal; idea.” Sitting at a desk pondering for a long time also gave the meaning “anxious; to be worried.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /a’n/ is in 案を練る (“to work out a plan” /a’n-o ne’ru/), 立案する (“to make a proposal” /ritsuan-suru/), 案内 (“guide; showing around a place” /an-na’i/) and 案じる (“anxious; to worry” /anjiru/).

  1. The kanji 極 “extreme”

History of Kanji 極In bronze ware style, it was a person standing in a constricted space. In ten style, a tree was added on the left side. Setsumon treated 極 and 棟 as the “ridge beam” of a house. The room between the ridge beam and roof is very small. In ten style,  “wood” and a hand of another person pushing the standing person into a tight corner, and was used phonetically for /kyoku/ to mean “extreme.” Together they meant “extreme.”

The kun-yomi 極める /kiwame’ru/ means “to reach the end; go to the extreme,” and is in 極めて (“extremely; very” /kiwa’mete/). The on-yomi /kyo’ku/ is in 究極 (“extreme; limit” /kyuukyoku/), 極限 (“utmost limit” /kyokugen/), 極端に (“extremely” /kyokuta’n-ni/) and 南極 (“the Antarctic” /nankyoku/).

There are many more kanji that contain 木 “tree; wooden” in various positions of kanji. We will have one more posting on kanji with 木 next week.  Thank you very much. [July 30, 2016]