If you sought kanji with which to make gender distinctions, what would you use? My mind would naturally go to these two:
- 男 (54: male, man)
- 女 (35: female, woman)
These characters can indeed serve that purpose, but they don't always mean what you might think. Moreover, some other pairs of kanji also distinguish male from female.
Let's start by looking more closely at 男 and 女. These can represent size differences. According to Dr. Gabi Greve, a longtime Japan resident and creator of the Daruma Museum, male-female size designations apply to twin mountain peaks. People call the larger one 男体山 (なんたいさん) and the smaller one 女体山 (にょたいさん). Clearly, they're not identical twins! One finds an example of this on Mount Tsukuba.
However, 男体山 and 女体山 are not always paired. There are several instances of 男体山 with no 女体山 in sight.
Twin waterfalls also attain 男- and 女- designations.
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