Hello, Friends of Joy o' Kanji (aka JOKers)!
As you may know, I'll soon be launching a massive project called Joy o' Kanji. I plan to write one essay about each of the 2,136 Joyo kanji (that is, the characters used in daily life in Japan). After I post these on a website that's now under construction, readers will be able to download the essays in PDF format for an extremely low price. If you'd like to know more about the scope and approach of the project, you can read about it here. [http://www.evekushner.com/writing/joy-o-kanji/]
I'm writing to you today to see if you'd like to be on the Joy o' Kanji mailing list. Some of you have no connection to Japanese, but I've included you here because you know people who are studying Japanese. If you feel so inclined, I would appreciate it if you could forward this newsletter to them. After that, you'll find that it's very easy to unsubscribe from this list (at the bottom). There won't be any hard feelings if you do so! I have no desire to spam anyone!
In the meantime, if you're interested, I would like to update you on our activities. I had hoped to launch Joy o' Kanji by the end of the year. That time has come—not the ribbon cutting but rather the last days of 2010. Unfortunately, the launch is still a few months away. Now we're shooting for March.
Everything takes longer than one expects. For instance it took me ages to locate a competent, upstanding, personable web designer who could handle Japanese text. The fantastic news is that I found that person: Paul Vardy. The site (which will eventually be at www.joyokanji.com) is coming along slowly but surely. (More slowly than surely, but that's largely to do with my fickleness and finickiness and probably several other F words.) I love what we've developed so far, and I feel confident that the site will afford a smooth, fun user experience.
It also took quite awhile to finalize the PDF design. However, graphic designer Tiara Marina in Indonesia has produced a layout that's eliciting oohs and ahs from all who see it.
I have a crack team of editors—two in Japan and one in Canada. These native speakers do amazing research into every nook and cranny of their language. In fact, like undercover investigators, "Lutlam" and "Rhubarb" want to be known only by their aliases. The other is Junko Soda. It's a great pleasure to share their findings in my essays.
A few photographers have supplied me with reams of pictures. Although I had a wonderful trip to Japan in July and took 1,200 photos, half of which showcase kanji, I still need more of everything! Christopher Acheson has done a great job of capturing vistas throughout Japan, while Kevin Hamilton has an uncanny ability to fulfill a photo wish list. He spots precisely the characters I need, as if they were waiting just outside his doorstep.
Several people have volunteered time in exchange for essays, doing hours upon hours of administrative assistance. I feel particularly indebted to Heidi Cole and Devon Bartlett, who make my life much more efficient and give me sanity checks as needed.
I could name a few other kind souls who have done quite a bit to help out, but this is starting to feel like an Academy Awards acceptance speech, so I'll just let you wait and see the "Who We Are" Section of the site when it launches.
As for me, I've been writing my heart out and enjoying myself thoroughly. The stats change day to day, but as of this writing, I've completed essays on 23 kanji and have done extensive research on 19 more characters. All of these kanji come from the junior high school set (including the expansion to the Joyo list), and nearly half can serve as radicals. I can't wait to share my essays with you when the time comes.
I've also been writing free content for the site—brief pieces about topics of general interest to kanjiphiles, including close-up investigations of particular radicals. These will go in the "Thematic Explorations" section.
The site will be bursting with content, including three kinds of flashcards. With one kind, you can see how much of the vocabulary you've retained from each essay. With another type, you can try translating sample sentences from the text (either going from Japanese to English or vice-versa).
When Joy o' Kanji finally arrives, it will give you plenty of ways to keep busy, delve ever deeper into this gloriously addictive script, and most of all have fun. This project is ultimately about joy. So a joyous Noel to those who celebrate, and Happy New Year to all! I know it's going to be a good year, because this budding flower will finally burst into bloom.
P.S. I forgot to mention one of the best things that's happened this year. I've been in regular contact with Jim Breen and Jack Halpern, two of the gods in the kanji pantheon! I've even had a Skype chat with Halpern! Still pinching myself! Halpern is supplying me with two kinds of data that reflect updates to the Joyo list. Did you know that he promotes not only kanji but also unicycling?! I was tickled to find this word in his Kanji Learner's Dictionary today: 一輪車歴 (いちりんしゃれき: one's experience as a unicyclist). What fun he must have had including that! Incidentally, I'll be sharing discoveries like this in a bloggy feature on the site called JOK Notebook. I can't wait!
Causes Eve Kushner Supports
The Milo Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders, PCI, FINCA