Hopefully someone is able to let me know what this symbol means. I took a guess that it might be Japanese, but please direct me elsewhere if it is not! Thanks!


I think that glossing 楽器 as "tool for fun" is a bit misleading. In Chinese the character 楽 (old form 樂) represented both the word for "pleasure" and the word for "music", which had different pronunciations. That's why in Japanese this character is pronounced らく in words to do with pleasure , such as 行楽 (こうらく) , "a pleasure trip", and がく in words to do with music, such as 音楽 (おんがく), "music". 楽器 (がっき)is literally a "music instrument".

In the Analects, Book 16 Section 5, Confucius is recorded as saying "There are three things people take pleasure in that are beneficial and three things people take pleasure in that are harmful. Taking pleasure in the discriminating study of rituals and music, taking pleasure in talking about the virtues of other people and taking pleasure in having many friends are beneficial. Taking pleasure in extravagance, taking pleasure in idleness and loafing about and taking pleasure in feasting are harmful." "Taking pleasure in" is 楽 in all cases. "Music" is also 楽. "Taking pleasure in the discriminating study of rituals and music" is: 楽節礼楽 - "take pleasure / discriminate / ritual / music". There are other passages in the Confucian Classics which make word-plays on the two meanings of this kanji.

English also has a word meaning both "pleasure" and "music": "glee", as in "he hugged himself with glee" and "he joined the glee-club". The two things are obviously connected: the purpose of music is to give pleasure.


It is originally Chinese, but in Mandarin it has been simplified so it looks different. The Japanese variant might however still be present in some parts of the Chinese speaking world, such as Taiwan.

Anyway, from a Japanese perspective, it says 楽, pronounced raku, and means "with ease" or "comfort". You can also add a suffix to the kanji creating the word 楽しい, which is pronounced "tanoshii" and means "fun".

It is also used in various combinations with other characters to create other words, such as 楽器, pronounced gakki. The second part means "tool", so a "tool for fun" is how to say the word "musical instrument" in Japanese.

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