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Oh dear. I know much this site hates these sorts of things. Sigh. Here I go.

OK. I have a mug which a friend gave to me many long years ago. They weren't Japanese; they just thought it was a nice mug and figured I could read it. Which at the time, I couldn't. Here are four pictures showing the written text.

かち 読めない漢字 ことは 仲よき

I can actually read most of this: 仲よきことは?しきかち。

I have some guesses for the kanji I can't read: 美しい or 楽しい. In fact, a web search brings up the following

仲よきことは美しきかな

But I'm not sure that that character really looks anything like 美. I'm just guessing at 楽.

What say you all?

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  • 4
    「仲よきことは美しきかな」 is almost certainly what it is. I have a painting with this phrase on it too (although it's preceded by 「いつの日も」.
    – istrasci
    Jul 14, 2017 at 20:53
  • is the かな rhetoric? Jul 14, 2017 at 21:10
  • 1
    「な」の変体仮名ですね。 benricho.org/kana/na.html これ→ benricho.org/kana/kana-img/f4f0.gif
    – chocolate
    Jul 14, 2017 at 23:26
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    Wiktionaryとか・・ ja.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E6%A5%BD 「楽」「異体字」でググると何か見つかるかも。(でも、この写真の湯呑には「仲よきことは美しきかな」って書いてありますね、istrasciさんの言うように。最初の2 strokes が大きくかかれてるんです)
    – chocolate
    Jul 14, 2017 at 23:40
  • 1
    @Chocolate That's extremely helpful. Thank you. And, I learned a new word, 湯‌​呑. What a great word!!!
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 14, 2017 at 23:52

2 Answers 2

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Here, I may as well add this as an answer now.

「仲よきことは美しきかな」 is almost certainly what it is. This appears to be a well-known phrase, and it matches this print I have (although it's preceded by 「いつの日も」) .

phrase

Sometimes the 「かな」is written with the kanji 哉. Also, as pointed out by @chocolateさん, the な on your cup is a 変体仮名 which is why it's kind of looks like ち.

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  • such an interesting picture. any idea what the picture means: like, why is there a snake there?
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 15, 2017 at 18:27
  • No clue. It was a present I received from my Japanese teacher probably 15 years ago.
    – istrasci
    Jul 15, 2017 at 18:29
  • well, it's very nice. thank you for sharing.
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 15, 2017 at 19:25
  • 干支がヘビ年だったとか・・・?ヘビの絵って、よくヘビ年に飾ってあるような気がする。なんか、絵馬も描いてあっておめでたい雰囲気。その巾着の中身はもちろん💰かな...?
    – chocolate
    Jul 16, 2017 at 4:39
  • @Chocolate Thanks for the explanation. That totally makes sense, and so many clues to that too. :-)
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 16, 2017 at 16:13
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If their the "printed" form (I don't know the japanese word for it) you can use 辞書{じしょ} to either try to draw it or pick out components. I don't know if it can identify calligraphy like that though.

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