One irregular reading that I quite like is 味 in words like 旨味 (“umami, savoriness”) and 甘味 (“sweetness”).
Although it makes sense to interpret the み as “flavor” or “taste”, it’s actually thought to originally be the Japanese suffix -み denoting a quality or state; it’s also found in words like 重み (“weight, importance”) and 温かみ (“warmth”). 痛み (“pain”) may be another example, but it may alternatively be the ren’yōkei of 痛む. I can’t help but wonder if it is purely coincidental that many verbs having to do with feelings and states end in -む…
You might notice that Sweden’s is a bit weird; 典 has a fairly broad span of interpretations, but “soldiers” isn’t one of them.
Then, you realize they’ve used 瑞士 (Switzerland) for both Switzerland and Sweden and just translated them differently.
Also slightly amusing how they’ve just translated 瑞 as “Swiss”, which is kind of putting the cart before the horse.
Quite fond of 乳首 myself. The idea that not only do they refer to the nipple as “milk neck”, but that the reading isn’t even phonetic, meaning they chose those two kanji for no reason other than they thought “milk neck” was a good way to describe what it was, is pretty incredible. Plus, since the reading’s an exception, you can tell how freaky everybody is based on their accuracy for the reading of this word
I discovered 涅槃 = black soil tub = ねはん = nirvana the other week. I guess that it was straight up borrowed from Chinese that way, but I guess it still counts.
I am now stuck thinking of the band by those characters now. Maybe Cobain was singing Onyomi the whole time.
I actually have a couple of questions about ateji. One of my (non-Japanese-learning) friends said ateji are used mostly for creating kanji for foreign words. Is that true? Are they currently being created?
You’ll see them for words like ページ、メートル and such, but I wouldn’t say that’s mostly like that? Unless you count all the kanji for countty names. In Chinese it happens a lot more often, I think, since they don’t have kana.