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I've been studying Japanese for about 3 years, passed N1 last December (was not expecting that) and wanted to brush off one of the biggest questions I've ever had on Kanji (bugging me for about 2 of the 3 years). You see, there's this Weird Kanji on this rock that I can't seem to find anywhere else:

rock kanji

The second two say 大山{だいせん}, which is already 表外読み, so this is obviously a rather old inscription I'd assume.

I've tried looking this kanji up everywhere, such as on https://www.kanjipedia.jp/sakuin/soukakusu/4 (which tbh doesn't even have that many kanji, only those needed for 漢検一級 and a little more) and https://kanji.jitenon.jp/ which claims to have 12,300 kanji entries. No luck though.

I've even looked through Chinese Hanzi dictionaries to see if it's some old form or whatever. The closest I've come is http://www.zdic.net/z/86/js/20A2C.htm which is supposedly a variant of 巵{さかずき} which means "sake cup". Pretty sure this mountain has nothing to do with Sake Cups.

Honestly it's probably lurking somewhere in the Daikanwajiten, but I don't really have that huge thing at home (nor in my city I think)

I did find this though: http://www.zdic.net/z/8b/wy/21BC3.htm It seems like a pretty lonely hanzi/kanji, with no definition of any sort... I went to the "web discussion" on the hanzi, and some user talked about stone inscriptions... Does any Kanji God know what this Kanji means/is?

Thanks everyone!

Edit: I realised that the user in the discussion was actually stating dictionaries of characters (I assume those that contain the mystery character). These included 興聖寺四十人等造碑像記, 增訂碑別字, 碑別字新編, and 異體字字典 廣碑別字, the latter of which led me to an online 異体字 database.

http://dict.variants.moe.edu.tw/variants/rbt/word_attribute.rbt?quote_code=QTAxMTUxLTAwNQ

oh. This was an archaic 異体字 of 左 all along. How whimsical. At least now I know that this is on the left of the mountain, instead of having to mentally associate the mountain with sake cups.

Geez. And there's like 8 variants of 左.

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    Well, pending on where you found it, it's either a variant of 龍 or 左 (as you've already noted; the character looks like 㔫 or 𡯃). I haven't found any convincing matches for a 龍大山, 竜大山 or 左大山, however. – droooze Mar 26 at 6:14
  • Also, where is this stela located? Knowing the location may lead us to the official name of the place, which could provide clues. – Eiríkr Útlendi Mar 26 at 15:43
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    これですね→ 194116410.at.webry.info/200801/article_29.html – Chocolate Mar 27 at 16:01
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    Thank you, @Chocolate! The poster never explained why they were so sure the 大山 part was read as だいせん. For instance, there are also several places called 大山【おおやま】, not to mention similarly-written places in China. Narrowing this down to 鳥取県 definitely helps clarify the context. – Eiríkr Útlendi Mar 27 at 22:50
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Some follow-up detail.

The kanji, the full term, and the reading

Chocolate commented on the initial question that she'd found a blog post with more information about the location of the stela:

丸山の道標・常夜燈
所在地~伯耆町丸山(集落の東)

  丸山の集落から約500m東へ行ったところに、三角形の大きな自然石に「左大山」の文字が彫られた道標がある。

The post includes a picture of this same stela, albeit at a different time of year:

So we can tell that the 大山 of the stela is interpreted by this other author to be equivalent to 大山.

Since this is indeed in Tottori Prefecture, we know that the 大山 is indeed read as だいせん, and not as おおやま.

The specific location: what does 㔫・左 refer to in this context?

For any map geeks reading this, I tracked down the exact location. This link should open in Street View, looking roughly east by southeast, showing the 㔫大山 carved stone on the left.

https://www.google.com/maps/@35.3874357,133.4647645,3a,37.5y,119.3h,89.41t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1swQqLxtZgS079a2aeIV02zg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Sometimes Google is awesome. Being able to find this obscure location in Street View was really cool.

  • However, as you can see by viewing this location in Google's overhead view and zooming out, this is not "on the left of the mountain", as the OP guessed: this is on the flats along the Sada River, roughly 4km from the base of 大山. So the 㔫・左 cannot mean that we're on the left of the mountain.

  • In order to get to 大山 via the old 大山参詣道, as described in that blog post, one would continue east on this road and turn left at the next intersection to follow along what is now Route 36. Then again, the intersection is some 200m past the stela, so I don't think the 㔫・左 refers to turning left either.

  • Nor is 大山 on the left-hand side of the road. In fact, it's visible almost dead ahead straight along this road (although the road doesn't go all the way to the mountain). So the 㔫・左 also doesn't mean that 大山 is on the left.

Conclusion

The 㔫 does seem to be just an alternative form of 左. But, ultimately, I'm baffled what the 㔫・左 part of the stela is intended to mean. I'm curious if anyone can shed some light on that.

  • 㔫 might be [㔫]{さ}, related to Sada (is Sada 佐陀?). – droooze Mar 30 at 8:14
  • @drooze I just checked and it is 佐陀川. – Ringil Mar 30 at 14:51
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Just to mark the question answered. I did not participate in the research of this question.

According to comments and the poster, the first kanji “was an archaic 異体字 of 左”, a word for left.

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