漢字. Chinese characters as used in Japanese writing as opposed to the two kana syllabaries and rōmaji Latin letters.

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273 views

What's the difference between differences? 差 and 違い

What's the difference between 差 and 違い? When would I use each? Which (if either) would I use for describing the difference between something like sample data and the best fitting equation?
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913 views

Which kanji for はじめます? There seem to be two

I thought the kanji for はじめます was: 始めます However, one of my friends tweeted using 初: トマト鍋初めて食べたけどおいしかった Which is correct? Is there a difference in nuance between the two? jisho.org brings ...
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3answers
836 views

The role of hiragana when there is a relevant kanji?

If I don't know the kanji of a thing but I know the hiragana of it, can I just write the hiragana if I have to write it down? Is it a free choice? Or some rules or social formalities?
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1k views

When to use 聴く vs 聞く vs 訊く?

When should one use 聴く instead of 聞く? Is there a precise rule for which one to use in which situation? I have a feeling that 聞 is used more when the source of the sound is a person or other living ...
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2k views

Etymology of 出来る dekiru

An entry of Tae Kim's blog suggested that 出来る came from Chinese word 出来 that does have the nuance of potentiality, but the most recent visitor's comment claimed that the usage of 出来 in Chinese to show ...
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509 views

Were women unable to learn kanji during the Heian era?

I've read that The Tale of Genji, and similar Heian-era novels such as The Pillow Book, and The Gossamer Years were predominantly or exclusively hiragana, which is also called "women's writing" (女手). ...
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179 views

Japanese novels 上・下

I have a couple of Japanese novels and textbooks that have the kanji 上 & 下 on them. Now, intuitively, I would say that the 下 kanji would be the book I start with. Whereas the 上 would be the one I ...
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201 views

Why was 邪 chosen to spell the names of 伊邪那岐神 and 伊邪那美神 in the 古事記?

I had been wondering about this for a while. Consider the spelling of he names of Izanagi and Izanami in the 古事記: 伊邪那岐神【いざなぎのかみ】 and (妹【いも】)伊邪那美神【いざなみのかみ】 (source) Both of their names ...
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358 views

How to read single stand-alone language-name kanji?

So we all know that most (all?) countries' names can be written in kanji as well as kana. And occasionally kanji from these names are used to represent the language of those countries. For example, we ...
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220 views

What is the connection between shrimp and old age?

Shrimp(えび) is written several different ways in Japanese. For example, there are the words commonly used in Chinese: 蝦 and 鰕. There is also a compound specific to Japan, 海老, and a kokuji, 蛯. Both of ...
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304 views

Using appropriate old characters with people's names

What is the general etiquette about about using the newer characters (新字体) or even a more modern version of the old character (旧字体) when used in names? Is it generally considered rude? For example, ...
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663 views

Why is 「人口」 used to denote population?

I'm just curious at the appearance of 「口」 that makes this word mean "population". Why should it be 「口」 as opposed to any other body part or anything else? Is there a definitive reason or story ...
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679 views

名 versus 名前: Why is this seemingly redundant Jukugo used?

For example I came across a Jukugo like this: 名 (name) + 前 (before) = 名前 (name) What is the point in having this Jukugo when you apparently can just use 名. Can someone explain this to me?
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361 views

What does 台 mean when proceeded by a number (of yen)

I came across this phrase in a news article about a budget reduction: ....6千億円台になる.... I was wondering what this use of 台 means. I did a Google search of 円台 and the amount of yen doesn't seem to ...
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1answer
824 views

Change of kanji like 大坂 to 大阪

Wikipedia says that Osaka used to be spelt 大坂, and is now spelt 大阪. Is there a term for what happened, and does it happen often? Related question: On the replacing of kanji obsoleted in the 1946 ...
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344 views

Kanji use in these words, 今 vs 未

I'm learning vocabulary from 日本語総まとめN2. In one section they describe four words and group them together (I assume because they have slightly different meanings but somewhat similar). They group them ...
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176 views

Use of ㈰, ㈪, ㈫ in enumerations

Today, in some official document I received, an enumeration (of items to address) had each line prepended with ㈰, ㈪, ㈫ etc. From context, it is reasonably easy to guess that this might be an ...
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447 views

why do some kanji have multiple stroke counts?

A few years ago, I came across the issue of one kanji having multiple stroke counts. Now, I need to review this: 牙 = (4 or 5 strokes) 瓜 = (5 or 6 strokes) 邑 = (6 or 7 strokes) .... If native ...
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372 views

Separate kanji for おそい when referring to being late and being slow

The i-adjective はやい can refer to being fast or being early, but each of the meanings has affinity towards separate kanji: 速い (fast) and 早い (early). Yet, while it's not surprising that the antonyms of ...
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264 views

How do native speakers “read” single-kanji signs when those kanji are not also standalone words?

In my time in Japan I've noticed a few kanji that can be used on their own commonly in various kinds of signs, yet I don't think they are also words in their own right: 押 引 危 開 閉 Since all kanji ...
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424 views

Same word - written with kana and kanji in two places in the same paragraph. Why?

I am aware that some Japanese words can be written in either kana or kanji and that the rules about it are not set in stone. This has already been discussed in some questions and answers here (e.g. ...
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982 views

Can kanji-heavy Japanese be easily translated into Chinese?

How much is changed or lost in translating (say) an old Japanese text that's mainly written in kanji into hanzi? How does it compare to translating into a completely foreign language like English? I'm ...
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752 views

うるさい written as 五月蝿い

This is a follow-up question to Does うるさい have a "negative" connotation. I've seen うるさい written as 五月蝿い. 現代では、is this form used often / at all? What does this have to do with flies (蝿【はえ】) in May? ...
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498 views

Is 日語 a good two-kanji stand-in for 日本語 (“Japanese language”)?

This is a bit of an ad hoc question, but still should be well within the scope of JLU, so here goes: While trying to come up with ideas for our new logo in the meta group (subliminal message: go and ...
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1answer
381 views

Shorthand for [傘]{kasa} or normal use? 仐

I was at a Japanese class and saw what I thought was a mistake, or at best shorthand for the character [傘]{かさ} -> 仐 I thought the four ([人]{ひと}) had been forgotten but my Japanese teacher told me this ...
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632 views

Significance of the kanji 茶 in the set phrase 滅茶滅茶{めちゃめちゃ} / 目茶目茶{めちゃめちゃ}

While having fun looking up random words in my dictionary software, I found out that the phrase "めちゃめちゃ", which is often used in colloquial sentences like "めちゃめちゃかわいい" has two kanji variants: 滅茶滅茶 ...
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412 views

What would be the most apt word in kanji, for “Animal world”?

Okay, that may sound a little confusing, and no, not looking for the name of a zoo or theme park here XD Essentially, simply put, I'm writing a novel, and for that, building a world around it. Yes, ...
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368 views

For body: 身体 or 体

体{からだ} and 身体{からだ} seem to be used interchangeably, is there a nuance difference between them?
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1k views

How to write “eastern Tokyo” (or “northern Hokkaido”)

While chatting with a friend about meeting up in eastern Tokyo, I typed in ひがしとうきょう and my Mac dutifully sent 東東京 out the wire. I quickly clarified with ひがし東京 just so she wouldn't think I had made a ...
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1answer
276 views

What do you call the hooked tip of a kanji stroke?

When writing a kanji, some downstrokes have a clean end (such as in 木) while others end with a little hook (e.g. the center stroke of 小). What are the names of such stroke tips?
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382 views

why did Asahi Shinbun write “子{こ}ども”、instead of “子供{こども}” in this headline?

I just happened across an Asahi Shinbun article with a headline that reads: 日本{にほん}の子{こ}どもの幸福度{こうふくど}は6位{い} 豊{ゆた}かさの一方{いっぽう}、深刻{しんこく}な貧困{ひんこん} (-) Compacting articles as much as possible is a ...
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307 views

What is the proper term for the use of archaic kanji?

I noticed that in various works of Japanese art, the artists sign their work with a seal whose contents range from fairly regular kanji to very abstract variations of kanji. I have also seen it used ...
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137 views

Usage of 腱 vs 筋

What is the difference between the following characters: 腱 vs 筋 (すじ) Both translate to tendon (as in the connective tissue between muscles and bones)
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182 views

Why does this text use both 下さい and ください in the same context?

After a trip to Japan, I got a slip stapled to my passport, the first bullet point of which reads: 活字体で記入して下さい。黒色又は青色のペンで記入してください。 "Please type or print clearly. Write by using black or blue ...
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3k views

Are the 4-byte UTF-8 Kanji rare enough that I can ignore them?

I'm writing a programming algorithm which converts code points of Kanji characters to their respective UTF-8 octets. My problem is, if I don't include 4-octet characters, and only deal with 3-octet ...
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4answers
2k views

森 vs 林 for forest

According to A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters, 森 (38) is woods and 林 (75) is forest. But some material I've found online related to Japan seems to indicate 森 is the more correct Japanese ...
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1answer
436 views

Where does the な in 大人 (otona) come from?

As far as I understand, the word 大人 (otona) uses the kanji 大 to represent お and the kanji 人 to represent と. According to this site the readings for 人 do not include な. Where does the な come from then? ...
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1answer
278 views

Are 髙 and 高 interchangeable?

At my old job, I knew someone by the name of Takahashi (last name). Sometimes I'd see their name spelled 高橋 and sometimes 髙橋. Why was 高 sometimes used and why was 髙 sometimes used?
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360 views

Method for deciding whether to use katakana or kanji version of the word?

I often see words in sentences written in カタカナ or 漢字 that could be swapped for a common word of the other form. I am aware that there are lots of カタカナ words that do have a 漢字 form, but where the 漢字 ...
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五年ぶり、ぶり返す、。。。What does ぶり mean?

Where does the ぶり in 五年ぶり (Five years ago?) and ぶり返す come from, does it have a kanji, and what does it mean?
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520 views

Use of 旧字体 in Japanese names

Currently, the kanji used in registering names in Japan are restricted to those from the 常用漢字 and the 人名用漢字 lists. Since this is the case, why do some names include kanji not on the list like 澤 (for ...
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359 views

Is “義理” the proper term in this case?

I have trained for 25 years with a local (European) Aikido master, but now I have to move, albeit temporarily, to another town, and I would like to give a gift to my teacher to represent the "debt" I ...
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239 views

Reading 塞 and 省: When on and kun readings go together

I looked up 塞 in my 漢和辞典, and I found four readings: 音:サイ、ソク 訓:とりで、ふさ・ぐ What I noticed is that サイ is used when the kanji means とりで, and ソク is used when the kanji means ふさぐ: 「とりで」の意味: ...
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1answer
2k views

Common 四{よ}字{じ}熟{じゅく}語{ご} that use/are 当{あ}て字{じ}

Are there any commonly used known 四{よ}字{じ}熟{じゅく}語{ご} that use/are 当{あ}て字{じ} besides the following? Just crossed my mind, and now I'm curious. 滅{め}茶{ちゃ}苦{く}茶{ちゃ}, 夜{よ}露{ろ}死{し}苦{く}, 無{む}理{り}矢{や}理{り}
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164 views

Origin of the word 烏有

I saw the phrase 烏有{うゆう}に帰{き}す, which means to "become nothing" as if turning to ashes. The word "烏有" means nothing, but its parts are 烏 (crow) and 有 (to be). How did 烏有 come to mean nothing? When I ...
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1answer
924 views

Are there no rounded or circular strokes in any 漢字?

Forgive me if this question seems foolish, but perhaps curiosity has gotten the best of me 'cause I am asking away. Every time I sit down to practice some good ol' kanji writing, I can't help but ...
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1answer
439 views

Katakana words with Kanji. How did that happen?

Some words are written with katakana, but also have kanji. For example: コーヒー 珈琲 ページ 頁 How did this happen? They are loanwords, but no doubt had Japanese equivalents before these variants were ...
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1answer
281 views

Are both spellings for ふけ (fuke) “dandruff” ateji? If not what's actually going on?

The other day after washing my hair I decided to add the Japanese word for "dandruff" to my vocabulary. It turns out to be an interesting word. It has only one pronunciatation, ふけ (fuke), but two ...
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3answers
9k views

How many Kanji characters are there?

I have been searching around, but all the sources give completely different answers ranging from 2,000 to 50,000. So my question is how many Kanji characters that have ever existed since the dawn of ...
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3answers
571 views

Are non-base-10 numbers ever written in kanji?

This morning I was thinking about the joke "There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't". Considering if this would translate well to Japanese, I ...