The Kanji 食飯餓館飽飾飲餌養 – Food (1)


食と食へんThe new area of topics we are going to explore in the this and next several postings is around a kitchen, cooking, measuring, etc. We start kanji with a bushu shokuhen “eating; food” – 食飯餓館飽飾飲餌養. A bushu shokuhen has one stroke fewer than the kanji 食, as shown on the right. We shall also see that not all the kanji with a bushu shokuhen originated from 食.

  1. The kanji 食 “to eat; meal”

History of Kanji 食For the kanji 食, in (a), (b) and (c) in oracle bone style, in brown, it was “food in a raised bowl with a lid.” (b) had the dotted lines on both sides. I am unable to find the account for this in reference, but I am wondering if they signified that there was so much food that it was spilling over. It meant “food; to eat.” (d), in green, was in bronze ware style. In seal style (e), in red, some scholars analyze it as 皀 with 𠆢 — “a cover” (𠆢), “food” (白) and “a spoon; ladle” (ヒ). The kanji 食 means “to eat; food.”  <The composition of the kanji: 𠆢 and 良>

The kun-yomi 食べる /tabe’ru/ means “to eat,” and is in 食べ物 (“food” /tabe’mono/). Another kun-yomi 食う /ku’u/ has many uses — 食う (/ku’u/ “to eat” – a male speaker’s style; or used for an animal), 電池を食う (“to use up battery” /de’nchi-o ku’u/), 足止めを食う or 食らう (“to be prevented leaving” /ashidome-o-ku’u; kura’u/), 虫が食う (“to be eaten by worms” /mushi-ga-ku’u/), 食い止める (“to stop; hold back” /kuitome’ru/), 食ってかかる (“to go at someone; lash out at someone” /ku’ttekakaru/) and 食い違う (“do not match; go wrong” /kuichigau/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 食事 (“meal” /shokuji/), 朝食 (“breakfast” /chooshoku/), 食材 (“food; ingredients” /shokuzai/), 粗食 (“plain food” /soshoku/), 食料品 (“foodstuffs; groceries” /shokuryoohin/) and 給食 (“school lunch” /kyuushoku/).

  1. The kanji 飯 “cooked rice; meal”

History of Kanji 飯For the kanji 飯, in bronze ware style and seal style it comprised “food in a raised bowl with a lid,” and 反, which was used phonetically for /han/. Together they originally meant “cooked grains such as rice and millet.” The kanji 飯 means “cooked rice; meal.” <The composition of the kanji 飯: a bushu shokuhen and 反>

The kun-yomi 飯 /meshi’/ means (“mea” /meshi’/ by a male speaker), and is in 昼飯 (“lunch” /hirumeshi/ by a male speaker), 握り飯 (“rice ball” /nigirimeshi/) and 朝飯前 (“piece of cake; snap” /asamashima’e/). The on-yomi /han/ is in (お)赤飯 (“steamed sticky rice with red azuki beans” for a celebratory meal /oseki’han/ or /sekihan/), 炊飯器 (“(electric) rice cooker” /suiha’nki/), 五目ご飯 (“rice cooked with a few other ingredients” /gomoku-go’han/) and in the expression 日常茶飯事 (“daily occurrence” /nichijoosaha’nji/). /-Pan/ is in 残飯 (“leftovers from a meal” /zanpa’n/).

  1. The kanji 餓 “to starve”

History of Kanji 餓For the kanji 餓, the seal style writing comprised “food in a raised bowl with a lid,” and 我, which was used phonetically for /ga/ to mean “to starve.” The kanji 餓 means “to starve.” A few postings ago, we looked at another kanji that meant “to starve” – the kanji 飢. The kanji 飢 focuses on lack of food (such as in famine).   <The composition of the kanji 餓: a bushu shokuhen and 我>

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ga/ is in 飢餓 (“starvation” /ki’ga/), 餓死 (“death due to starvation” /ga’shi/) and 餓鬼 (“imp” /ga’ki/; “young mischievous kid; brat” spoken by a male speaker” /gaki’/).

4. The kanji 館 “building; large house”

History of Kanji 館For the kanji 館, the seal style writing had “food in a raised bowl with a lid” (食), and 官 “a place where military officers stay,” which was used phonetically for /kan/. Together they originally meant “a place where many people gather and eat.” The kanji 館 means “a large building; mansion.”  <The composition of the kanji 館: a bushu shokuhen and 官>

The kun-yomi 館 /yataka/ means “a mansion; a large house.” The on-yomi /kan/ is in 旅館(“Japanese-style inn” /ryokan/), 会館 (“hall; clubhouse; building” /kaikan/), 図書館 (“library” /tosho’kan/), 大使館 (“embassy” /taishi’kan/) and 水族館 (“aquarium” /suizoku’kan/).

  1. The kanji 飽 “to grow tired; weary; be fed up; full”

History of Kanji 飽For the kanji 飽, in Old style the left side of (a), in purple, had “a covered bowl of food.” The right side had “a hand” over “a baby.” Together they meant “feeding a baby to full stomach.” The top of (b) is not clear, but it could be two doors to an altar, and (b) means “to offer food to satisfy a god.” In seal style in (c) the right side was replaced by 包 “to wrap up completely,” from a baby in mother’s womb, and was used phonetically for /hoo/ to mean “full.” After eating much food one’s stomach was full. With too much of anything one gets weary of. The kanji 飽 means “to become tired of; be saturated; weary; full.”  <The composition of the kanji 飽: a bushu shokuhen and 包>

The kun-yomi 飽きる /aki’ru/ means “to grow weary of; become tired of.” It is in 飽きが来る (“to grow tired of” /aki’ga-kuru/), 飽き足らない (“unsatisfying” /akitaranai/), 聞き飽きた (“I got tired of hearing it” /kikia’kita/) and 飽くまで (“to the bitter end; to the last; stubbornly” /aku’made/). The on-yomi /hoo/ is in 飽和 (“saturation” /hoowa/).

  1. The kanji 飾 “to decorate”

History of Kanji 飾For the kanji 飾, the left side of the seal style writing had 食 “food in a raised bowl with a lid” and 人 “person” on the right top, and 巾 “cloth” at the bottom. Together they meant “a person in front of a bowl of food wiping the bowl with a piece of cloth.” It meant “to make it clean or pretty.” The kanji 飾 meant “to decorate; embellish.”  <The composition of the kanji 飾: a bushu shokuhen, a short ノ, 一 and 巾>

The kun-yomi 飾る /kazaru/ means “to decorate,” and is in 髪飾り(“hair accessory” /kamika’zari/), 飾り付け (“decoration” /kazaritsuke/) and 着飾る (“to dress up” /kikazaru/). The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 修飾語 (“modifier” in grammar /shuushokugo/), 服飾デザイナー (“dress designer” /hukushoku-deza’inaa/) and 粉飾決算 (“fraudulent account; window dressing settlement” /hunshoku-ke’ssan/).

In the next three kanji – 飲餌養, the bushu shokuhen originated from something other than “food in a raised bowl with a lid.”

  1. The kanji 飲 “to drink; swallow”

History of Kanji 飲For the kanji 飲, in oracle bone style (a) had “a person trying to drink wine from a large wine cask.” If we look at (a) closely, the tongue was a forked shape, as was in the ancient writings of the kanji 舌 “tongue,” indicating eating. It meant “to drink (wine).” (b) in oracle bone style was a large wine cask (酉) with a stopper at the top. The left side of (c) and (d) in bronze ware style and (e) in seal style had a wine cask with a stopper. The right side was a person trying to drink or opening his mouth wide. In the kyuji 飮, (f) in blue, the cask was replaced by a bushu shokuhen “to eat; food.” The reason could be that a bushu 酉 was primarily used for fermented liquid and the kanji 飲 is more inclusive of liquids and food that one drinks or swallows without chewing. The kanji 飲 meant “to drink; swallow.”  <The composition of the kanji 飲: a bushu shokuhen and 欠 >

The kun-yomi 飲む /no’mu/ means “to drink; swallow,” and is in 飲み込む (“to swallow; understand” /nomiko’mu/), 飲み込みがいい (“quick to comprehend” /nomikomi-ga-ii/), 飲食店 (“restaurant” /inshoku’ten/), 飲料水 (“drinking water” /inryo’osui/) and 誤飲 (“drinking or swallowing by mistake” /goin/).

  1. The kanji 餌 “bait; feed”

History of Kanji 餌For the kanji 餌, the two seal style writings, (a) and (b), had totally different shapes. (a) was “a vessel to keep grains” (鬲) with 耳 on top, which was used phonetically for /ji/ to mean “flour dumpling.” Together they originally meant “steamed dumpling.” (b) had “food on a raised bowl with a lid” on the left side, and 耳 “ear,” which was used phonetically for /ji/. The kanji 餌 means “animal feed; bait; lure.”  <The composition of the kanji 餌: a bushu shokuhen and 耳>

The kun-yomi 餌 (“bait; lure; animal feed” /esa’; e’/), and is in 餌付ける (“to feed (to domesticate)” /ezuke’ru/) and 餌食になる (“to become a victim” /e’jiki-ni-naru/). The on-yomi /ji/ is not on the Joyo kanji list.

  1. The kanji 養 “to support; nourish; foster”

History of Kanji 養For the kanji 養, (a) in oracle bone style and (b) and (c) in bronze ware style had a sheep on the left, which was used phonetically for /yoo/ to mean “to feed.” The right side was “a stick held by a hand,” signifying “action.” Together they signified sheep farming. The right side would have become 攴 in kanji, but in seal style, (d), the kanji 食 “to eat; food” replaced it. The kanji 養 means “to support (by providing food); nourish; foster.”  <The composition of the kanji 養: 羊 with a short last stroke, 八 and 良>   (P. S. — Actually (a) was “a cow; ox,” judging from the shape of the horns. August 20, 2017)

Other kanji such as 飼 “to keep animal,” 飢 “to starve” and 餅 “rice cake” do not have ancient writing and are phonetic-semantic kanji, in which a bushu shokuhen signified “food.”

In this posting we have seen in all the kanji that a bushu shokuhen, which is one stroke fewer than the kanji 食, pertains to food, eating or drinking.  Some kanji even did not contain 食 in earlier writings, but for the meaning of “food; eating” a bushu shokuhen took over as a semantic feature.  We shall continue exploring the topic around food preparation and eating in the next several postings. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [August 19, 2017]

The Kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽


This is the 8th posting on kanji that originated from “a skein of silk thread” (糸), “a collar,” which became 衣 and 衤, and something that pertained to “fabric.” In this post we are going to look at the kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽.

  1. The kanji 巾 “cloth”

History of Kanji 巾For the kanji 巾 in all the three ancient writing styles (oracle bone, in brown; bronze ware, in green; and seal, in red) and the kanji, it basically remained the same shape. It was a piece of ceremonial scarf that was worn around the waist by a man. From that it meant “a piece of cloth.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji, even though 巾 has been used informally for the word  /haba/ “width” (幅).  The on-yomi /kin/ is in 布巾 (“kitchen cloth” /huki’n/), 頭巾 (“hood; headscarf” /zu’kin/) and 三角巾 (“triangular bandage” /sanka’kkin/).

  1. The kanji 布 “cloth; to lay flat; spread”

History of Kanji 布For the kanji 布, in bronze ware style it had a hand holding an axe or a rock at the top, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “to pound.” Our reader may recognize this shape as the bronze ware style writing of the kanji 父 “father.” (A person holding an important axe or a rock in his hand was a father or paternal head.) Underneath was 巾 “cloth or scarf that a man wore around the waist.” In ancient times before cotton was introduced cloth was made of fibrous stems and stalks of a plant such as hemp by pounding it flat with a stone. The kanji 布 meant “cloth.” A piece of cloth covered a wide area, and it also meant “to spread.”  The kanji 布 means “cloth; to lay flat; spread.”

The kun-yomi 布 /nuno/ means “cloth.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 毛布 (“blanket; woolen blanket” /mo’ohu/), 布教 (“missionary work; propagation of religion” /hukyoo/) and 布団 (“futon; padded mattress; bedding” /huton/). /-Pu/ is in 散布する(“to spray; scatter” /sanpu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 怖 “fear; scary”

History of Kanji 怖For the kanji 怖 in seal style, (a) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 甫, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear,” whereas (b) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 布, which was also used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear.”  (a) became the kanji 怖 in which “heart” became a bushu risshinben “heart.” The kanji 怖 means “afraid; frightening; terrifying; fear.”

The kun-yomi /kowa’i/ means “frightening; petrifying; scary.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 恐怖 (“terror” /kyo’ohu/) and 畏怖の念 (“sense of the awe” /ihu-no-ne’n/).

  1. The kanji 希 “rare; wish”

History of Kanji 希History of Kanji 爻In seal style the top meant “to mix.” The history of the shape 爻 is shown on the right. Many  threads crossing made woven cloth. Fine thin woven cloth would have a light coming through between threads, and thinness signified “rare.” The bottom, 巾, was a piece of cloth. Together they meant something that was “rare.” One makes a “wish” for something that is not commonly around. The kanji 希 means “wish; to beseech; rare.”

There is another kanji that uses 希, with , a bushu nogihen — the kanji 稀 “rare; thin,” in words such as 稀な (“rare” /mare-na/), 稀薄 (“thin” /kihaku/) and 稀少価値 (“rarity value” /kishooka’chi/). Another on-yomi /ke/ is in 稀有な (“rare” /ke’u-na/). Because the kanji 稀 is not Joyo kanji, 希 may be substituted in some words.

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 希望 (“hope; wish” /kiboo/), 希薄な (“thin” /kihaku-na/) and 希少価値 (“scarcity value” /kishooka’chi/).

  1. The kanji 飾 “to decorate; embellish”

History of Kanji 飾In the seal style writing of the kanji 飾, 食 “eat; food” and 人 “person” together were used phonetically for /shoku/ and meant someone at a banquet table. With 巾 “cloth” below added, they originally meant “to wipe” (dishes).  Wiping something with a piece of cloth meant to make it clean or pretty. Thee kanji 飾 meant “to decorate; embellish.”

The kun-yomi 飾 /kazaru/ means “to embellish; decorate.” The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 装飾品 (“ornament; decorative thing” /shooshokuhin/) and 修飾語 (“modifier; qualifier” in grammar  /shuushokugo/).

  1. The kanji 帥 “general; commander”

History of Kanji 帥For the kanji 帥 in bronze ware style writings, (a), (b) and (c) was “a door or panel to open a family altar,” and the right side 巾 was “cloth.” Together wiping one’s family altar signified one following a god, and an exemplar. The flipside of following someone was “to lead; to take command.” [Shirakawa] The kanji 帥 means “general; commander.” In seal style (d) was a piece of cloth for a woman. In (e) the left side became simplified. Another view [Kadokawa dictionary] takes the left side of 帥 as signifying “band of people,” and together with 巾 “flag,” they meant commanding a troop with a flag.

The use of the kanji 帥 is limited. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sui/ is in 元帥 (“general; commander” /ge’nsui/).

  1. The kanji 帯 “belt; sash; long, narrow stretch of area”

History of Kanji 帯For the kanji 帯 the top of the seal style writing was a belt with accessory, and the bottom was a cloth in front, such as an apron. A rope that helped to keep clothes on was a “sash.” A sash is something you put on yourself. From that it also meant “to have on oneself.” The top of the kyuji 帶 was slightly simplified. The kanji 帯 also meant a “long, narrow stretch of area; strip; sash.”

The kun-yomi 帯 /o’bi/ meant “sash; band.” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 一帯 (“whole area” /ittai/), 温帯 (“temperate zone” /ontai/) and 携帯 (“portable type; carrying” /keetai/), which is now used as an abbreviated word for 携帯電話 (“cell phone; portable phone” /keetaide’nwa/).

  1. The kanji 滞 “to stagnate; be delayed”

History of Kanji 滞For the kanji 滞 the seal style writing was comprised of “water” and 帯, which was used phonetically for /tai/ to mean “belt; strip.” Together “water in an area” gave the meaning “to stagnate,” which further meant “to be delayed; be behindhand with.”

The kun-yomi /todokoo’ru/ means “to stagnate; fall behind (in payment).” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 滞納 (“failure to pay” /tainoo/), 停滞する (“to stop moving; stagnate” /teetai-suru/) and 沈滞ムード (“depressed mood; slum” /chintaimu’udo/).

History of Kanji 敝The shape 敝— The next three kanji 幣弊蔽 share the shape 敝. The history of 敝 is shown on the right. In bronze ware style the top left 巾 had two short lines inside, signifying that cloth is worn and torn. The bottom right was a hand holding a stick, signifying an action. In seal style they became 㡀 and攴. The kanji 敝 meant “cloth becomes rag; torn; to break; tire.”

  1. The kanji 幣 “money; sacred strips of paper”

History of Kanji 幣For the kanji 幣 the top 敝 was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom was 巾 “cloth.” Together they meant “sacred piece of cloth for offering to a god.” An offering was sometimes money. From that the kanji 幣 meant “money.” It is also used to mean strips of hanging paper to mark a sacred area in Shinto to ward off evils.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hee/ is in 貨幣 (“money” /ka’hee/) and 紙幣 (“paper currency; note” /shi’hee/) an 御幣 (“paper strips” in Shinto. /gohee/).

  1. The kanji 弊 “to collapse; perish; our (humble)”

History of Kanji 弊For the kanji 弊 in seal style (a) and (b), the top was 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom of (a) was “dog” (犬), and (b) had “death” (死). A dog was said to have been used for poison testing. Together they meant “to collapse; perish; die; harmful.” The Correct writing (c) reflected (a) with 犬 at the bottom. The kanji 弊 was also used to mean “our (company)” in humble style. The kanji 弊 means “to collapse; to become exhausted; harmful; our (humble),” and is in 疲弊 (”impoverishment; exhaustion” /hihee/), 弊害 (“bad practice; harmful influence” /heegai/) and 語弊がある (“to be misleading” /gohee-ga-a’ru/).

  1. The kanji 蔽 “to conceal”

History of Kanji 蔽The seal style writing of the kanji 蔽 had 艸 “plant; grass” on top of 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. They meant that grass grew rampantly and covered or hid things. The kanji 蔽 means “to hide; cover; conceal.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /-pee/ is in 隠蔽する(“to conceal; hide” /inpee-suru/).

With this post we end our exploration on kanji that originate from thread, a collar and clothes.  We will start another topic next topic. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [May 7, 2017]

The Kanji 初袖襟裾裕・卒・経径軽茎


This is the third post on kanji that originated from a collar and mean “clothing” – 衣. We have seen in the last two posts that when used as a component in ancient writing a collar may appear as it was (衣) or split in two parts with another component in the middle. In kanji another shape was created –a bushu衤, which is called koromohen. In this post we are going to look at the kanji 初袖襟裾裕 with a koromohen, and 卒, which also came from a collar. Then we are going to look at kanji that had 巠 in kyuji that originated with a warp (straight threads placed vertically) set on a loom in weaving –経径軽茎.

The first two kanji 初 and 袖 have been discussed before, but here we look at them again from the standpoint of the development of a collar into different component shapes.

  1. The kanji 初 “first time; beginning”

History of Kanji 初All the ancient styles (oracle bone style, in brown, bronze ware style, in green, and seal style, in red) had the full shape of a collar (衣) on the left side and a knife (刀) on the right side. In order to make clothes, fabric first had to be cut. From that it meant “first time; beginning.” When 衣 appeared on the left side in kanji, it became 衤, a bushu koromohen “clothing.” /Koromo/ is the kun-yomi of the kanji 衣, as we saw last week. The shape 衤 is not to be confused with ネ, a bushu shimesuhen “religious matter,” which is related to the kanji 示 /shimesu/.  It is interesting to me to see how the two very different kanji 衣and 示 could end up with such similar shapes as bushu.



The stroke order of a bushu koromohen is shown on the right.  (For word samples, please refer to the earlier post.)

  1. The kanji 袖 “sleeve”

Thistory-of-kanji-%e8%a2%96he three writings for the kanji 袖 on the left demonstrate that there have been three different shapes for a collar and all meant the same thing – In one, (a), a collar was split into two, the top being the back of the neck and the bottom a front in which two sides meet; another one, (b), kept the original shape; and the third one as bushu had an abbreviated to衤(katakana ネ with an extra stroke as a fourth stroke added). The right side of (b) as well as that of  the kanji 袖 was 由 “coming out of” (a ripe gourd). When you put on clothes arms would come out of sleeves, and it meant “sleeve.”

  1. The kanji 襟 “collar”

History of Kanji 襟In the bronze ware style of the kanji 襟, inside the wide-open collar was 金, which was used phonetically for /kin/. It meant “collar.” In seal style the same two components 衣 and 金 were placed side by side.  In kanji the left side became a bushu koromohen and the right side was replaced by 禁, which was used phonetically for /kin/ to mean “to close.” The kanji 襟 means “collar.”

The kun-yomi 襟 /eri’/ means “collar,” and is in 襟巻き (“muffler; neck scarf” /eri’maki/). The on-yomi /kin/ is in 開襟シャツ (“open-necked shirt” /kaikinsha’tsu/) and the expression 胸襟を開く (“to open one’s heart; have a heart-to-heart talk with someone” /kyookin-o hira’ku/).

  1. The kanji 裾 “hem; foothills of mountain”

History of Kanji 裾The seal style writing of the kanji 裾 was comprised of koromohen and 居, which was used phonetically for /kyo/. It appears that the meaning was originally inclusive of parts of clothing, such as the hem, the bottom of clothes, the collar, the sleeve and the edge of the front panel of clothes. But now the kanji 裾 is used only for “the bottom of clothes; hem; skirts”

The kun-yomi 裾 /suso/ means “bottom of clothes; hem” and is in 山裾 (“foothills of mountain” /yamasuso/) and in 裾模様 (“kimono with design on the skirt” /susomo’yoo/). There is no practical word using the on-yomi.

  1. The kanji 裕 “leeway; plentiful; room”

History of Kanji 裕For the kanji 裕 in bronze ware style a collar that was opened wide had 谷.  Several kanji that contain谷 are difficult to explain from the origins, because their ancient writings do not appear to have come from the same source. Rather than going into unsolved issues in my mind, I am going to leave it as being used phonetically for “roomy; ample.” Together the original meaning of “roomy; loose clothes” came to be used more generally to mean “leeway; plentiful; room.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /yuu/ is in 余裕 (“additional coverage; room” /yoyuu/) and 裕福な (“rich; wealthy well-to-do” /yu’uhukuna/).

  1. The kanji 卒 “soldier; sudden; rash; to end”

History of Kanji 卒The kanji 卒 has seemingly different meanings, and that may have affected the interpretations of its origin. In both bronze ware style and seal style, it was a collar that had a slanted line. One view is that the slanted line across the right and left front panels of clothes that were closed signified that soldiers wore the same clothes that were given to them. From that the kanji 卒 meant “low-ranking soldiers.” Another view is that a deceased person’s collar was tied so that the spirit would not stray out – thus the slanted line signified “tied tightly.” The kanji 卒meant “sudden death,” and this sudden happening gave the meaning “rash; hasty.” It also meant “to end after one does everything to be done.”  The kanji became 亠, two 人 and 十. The kanji 卒 means “low-ranking solder; sudden; to end.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /sotu/ is in 兵卒 (“private (soldier); enlisted man” /heesotsu/), 卒業 (“graduation” /sotsugyoo/), 軽率な (“careless; hasty,without serious thought” /keesotsu-na/). /Sot/- is in 卒中 (“stroke; apoplectic seizure” /socchuu/) and 卒倒する (“to faint; fall unconscious” /sottoo-suru/).

Now we move on to other shapes that are related to fabric or clothes. We begin with the shape 巠 in kyuji (I do not have the kanji for the shinji, which is 又 and 土.)

  1. The kanji 経 “to pass through; experience; sutra”

History of Kanji 経The first kanji is 経. In bronze ware style, (a), a loom that had threads (warps) was placed vertically to the wooden frame. In weaving, warp has to be placed straight so that other threads (the weft) can pass through to make a cloth. So it signified “straight; to go through.” In (b) a skein of threads was added. In (c) in seal style the threads were three wavy lines and the wooden frame became 工 ”craft” at the bottom. The kyuji 經, in blue, reflected seal style. Experience is something one goes through, so it means “experience.” A Buddhist sutra is a long continuous chanting, and the kanji also is used to mean “sutra.”  In shinjitai, the right became the kanji 又 and 土. The kanji 経 means “to go through; (time) passes; Buddhist sutra.”

The kun-yomi 経る means “(time) passes; to experience; go through.” The on-yomi /kee/ is in 経験 (“experience” /keeken/), 経済 (“economy” /ke’ezai/), 経緯 (“detail of history; longitude and latitude” /ke’ei/), 経歴 (“personal history” /keereki/), 経理 (“accounting” /ke’eri/). Another on-yomi /kyoo/ is in 経典 (“sacred scripture” /kyooten/) and お経 (“Buddhist sutra” /okyoo/).

  1. The kanji径 “pathway; straight line connecting two points”

For the kanji 径 in seal style the left side was a “crossroad.” The right side 巠 signified “lines that go strait.” The shortest way to get somewhere is a straight line, which would involve narrow path, not a major road. It meant “narrow path; pathway.” 径 is a line that connects two points, and a straight line that goes through circle is also 径. The kyuji 徑 reflected seal style. In shinjitai the right side became the kanji 又 and 土.

The kun-yomi /michi’/ is in 小径 (“pathway” /komichi/), 直径 (“diameter” /chokkee/) and 半径 (“semidiameter; radius” /ha’nkee/).

  1. The kanji 軽 “light; frivolous”

History of Kanji 軽For the kanji 軽 in seal style the left side was a “wheel; military vehicle.” The right side 巠 was used phonetically for /kee/ to mean “light.”  It meant a military vehicle that was not transporting heavy equipment. From that it meant “light.” The kyuji 輕 reflected seal style.

The kun-yomi /karui/ means “light.” /-Garu/ is in 身軽に (“lightly; with agility” /migaru-ni/), 手軽な (“easy; offhand; convenient” /tegaru-na/), 軽々しい (“thoughtlessly; frivolous; imprudent” /karugarushi’i/). The on-yomi /kee/ is in 軽量 (“light-weight” /keeryoo/), 軽視する (“to make light of” /ke’eshi-suru/) and 軽蔑する (“to scorn; contempt” /keebetsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 茎 “stem; stalk”

History of Kanji 茎For the kanji 茎 the seal style writing was comprised of 艸 “plant; grass” and 巠 “something straight across.” The part of a plant that was straight was a stem. It meant “stem.” The kanji 茎 means “stem; stalk.”

The kun-yomi /kuki/ means “stem; stalk.” The on-yomi /kee/ is in 地下茎 (“subterranean stem” /chika’kee/), a rather specialized word for a gardener and vegetable grower.

In the next post, we are probably going to look at kanji that contain 巾, and perhaps a few more if we finish with the topic of threads and cloth.  For people who reside in Japan, please enjoy ゴールデンウィーク (“Golden Week” /goorudenwi’iku/) — consecutive holidays from April 29 (originally Showa Emperor’s old birthday, eventually renamed as Showa Day) through May 5 (Children’s day).  Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [April 30, 2017]