Why Japanese People? Or how kanji are crazy nonsense

One of the first things most people try to do when studying kanji is try to find patterns to help them memorize and understand how they work. But that’s not always easy…

大  太  犬

We have the kanji for “big (dai). If we add a small stroke and it becomes “fat person (futo). A fat person is big, so more or less, it can make some sense. But if we move this small stroke up, it becomes “dog (inu). Now, how can this make any sense?

一  二  三 四

Numbers are some of the basic kanji everyone tries to learn first. One , two , three . See the pattern? Not so difficult, isn’t it? Ok, let’s continue. Four . Makes no sense…

角 + 䖝 = 触

Some kanji are formed by two different smaller components. For example  horn + insect = to touch. I personally don’t see any pattern on how you can relate an insect with horns with touch. Would you touch an insect with horns? I would definitely not…

That’s what the popular Atsugiri Jason tries to show in this popular funny video. It’s in Japanese with English subtitles.

The last kanji he writes is the one for depression . It has so many strokes (29) that he becomes depressed after trying to memorize it.

Have you ever thought Japanese kanji are crazy nonsense?

Japanese kanji of 2011: 絆

絆 - picture from http://www.kirainet.com/This year, Japanese people chose the kanji  (きずな – kizuna) to represent them. It means “bonds” and it’s been selected because of the collaboration of the Japanese people after the earthquake and tsunami to recover the affected areas.

After being chosen, the kanji is written by an expert calligrapher in the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto.

The second and third selected kanji were:

  • – disaster, calamity
  • – quake, shake

As you can see the selection of those kanji were so influenced by the disaster happened 9 months ago.

What do you think about those kanji?

Official kanji list increased to 2136

Jōyō kanji, the official list maintained by the Japanese ministry of education which contains all the characters who every Japanese student should know, has been increased to 2136. This means an addition of 196 new characters and the suppression of 5.

This decision was made because nowadays, thanks to new technologies, it’s much easier to write some kanji considered so difficult before. Most people use computers or the mobile phone to write Japanese characters, so they don’t need to remember the exact way to draw it. They just need to remember the pronunciation and how they look.

This list has not been stable over the years. For instance, during the second world war, when the Japanese nationalistic fervor was so high, the number of kanji was increased to 2528!

However this is a big change for Japanese students and educators, as this makes even more difficult to study what it was one of the most difficult and time consuming things from the Japanese language.

This is the full list of the new included kanji:

鹿 ## ##

References: ExaminerKiraiTofugu, Wikipedia