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Eve Kushner's Blog

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Feb.12.2010
As you may know, 知恵 (chie: to know + wisdom) is “wisdom” or “intelligence.” And we’ve seen that 袋 (TAI, fukuro) can mean “bag.” Given that, what do you think the following represents? 知恵袋 (chiebukuro)     wisdom (1st 2 kanji) + bag My cynical side takes over and imagines a wind bag who won’t shut...
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Feb.05.2010
We start with Alberto’s haiku calendar for February, another beauty:  Wow, this haiku features some complex kanji! Alberto will tell us about the poem in the comments section. Meanwhile, here’s the scoop on the least familiar characters: 嶺 (RYŌ, REI, ne, mine: peak, summit) 且 (SHO, SHŌ, SO, ka(tsu...
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Jan.29.2010
Recently I’ve shown you koala and kangaroo pictures, and in the past I’ve posted pictures of dogs, giraffes, and yaks. By this point, you should be an expert in animal identification. Based on the breakdowns below, see if you can figure out which animal each compound represents: 袋熊 (fukuro-guma...
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Jan.22.2010
What do you think the following word means? 虚誕 (kyotan) The first kanji, 虚 (KYO, KO, muna(shii)), means “empty” or “false,” as we saw long ago. You may recognize 誕 from 誕生日 (tanjōbi: birthday, to be born + to be born + day), where 誕 means “to be born, birth.” So 虚誕 is a false birth?! No, 誕 has...
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Jan.15.2010
When you long for something or someone, do you think of that longing as having a particular location? Do you store it somewhere, such as your heart, mind, soul, or journal? I don’t feel as if my yearnings have specific addresses; they seem all-pervasive. But the following word hints at the idea...
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Jan.08.2010
明けましておめでとうございます!(Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu! Happy New Year!). We’ve seen that this 明け means “to open, begin.” What I hadn’t seen until last week was this version of the greeting: 謹賀新年 (Kingashinnen: Happy New Year)     respectfully + to congratulate + new + year On 謹賀 … A Japanese friend posted...
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Dec.18.2009
Around the holidays, people like to hear old stories again, whether they involve Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or the Ghost of Christmas Past. This time of year also fills people with hope, so much so that adults temporarily suspend fears of pedophilia and let their children sit on strange men’s...
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Dec.11.2009
I’d never thought about it before, but I’ve just realized that the English expression “looking forward” has two meanings: “gazing into the distance” and “happily anticipating.” One kanji captures both meanings. We usually interpret 望 (BŌ, MŌ, nozo(mu)) as meaning “hope.” A while back, though, we...
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Dec.04.2009
Time for the final page of Alberto’s beautiful haiku calendar! Now that we’re at the last haiku of the year, I’d like to thank Alberto for the work he contributes to Kanji Curiosity. He puts an enormous amount of effort into explaining each haiku (in a language other than his native Spanish), and...
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Nov.29.2009
Let’s start with a quick quiz. From past weeks you already know this kanji: 渡 (TO, wata(ru), wata(su): to cross, extend, cover, range, span; to ferry across; build across; hand over, hand in, transfer) And you might know 世 from 世界 (sekai: world, world + world). Put these two key kanji together, and...
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Nov.20.2009
I’ve discovered two new ways of offending the Japanese: 渡し箸 (watashibashi: resting one’s chopsticks across the top of one’s bowl)     to cross over + chopsticks 渡り箸 (wataribashi: using one’s chopsticks to jump from side dish to side dish without pausing to eat rice in between)     to cross over +...
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Nov.13.2009
In any society, a bridge is perhaps the most visible symbol of trust. And this kind of trust seldom comes into question. When most of us see a bridge, we assume it can handle the cars, trains, and gale-force winds bearing down on it. Lately, though, people in my neck of the woods realize that they...
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Nov.06.2009
I came across an intriguing word: 過渡 (kato: (1) crossing; ferry; (2) transient; (3) changing old to new)     to pass by + to go through (life) It catches my attention for several reasons. For one thing, the spelling (but not the pronunciation) of the yomi reminds me of Kato Kaelin, made famous in...
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Oct.30.2009
As I mentioned last week, the etymology of 残 (ZAN, noko(ru), noko(su)) contains the idea that it’s cruel to hack someone up until nothing remains. But perhaps that’s a glass-half-empty perspective. The glass-half-full view would be, “Hey, look! Something remains! In fact, what we have here are...
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Oct.23.2009
It’s easy to think that 残 (ZAN, noko(ru), noko(su): to remain) has a soft nuance. After all, this character shows up in words such as 残念 (zannen: regret, to remain + thoughts). But when you learn the etymology of 残, you’ll see that we have a killer kanji on our hands! In 残, says Henshall, the 歹...
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