This is my opportunity to finally find out how the word. 弁当 came to be. It never really made sense logically to me.
[ten minutes pass] … and that is because it is an 当て字 for a Chinese word meaning 「convenience」. Apparently the original word is something like biàndang. In Chinese it was 便 (easy) 當 (to be regarded as). Which may be simplified as 便当. Over the centuries, in Japanese, it became 便道 and 弁道, until it finally settled into today’s kanji. (learned from Japanese Wikipedia I may have misread some if it!)
Which is how a kanji usually used for dialects got to be for lunch.
Further more, this kanji which depicts a cap being placed on a man’s head was adopted as a simplification of two old Japanese kanji 辨 and 瓣, both voiced as べん, from whence we get words such as 弁明 and 花弁.
Yuki - it reminds me of dark and cold winter days in Niigata Prefecture which really made me appreciate taking hot baths in winter, even after returning to my country. I think I have seen Niigata-ken being referred to as 雪国 before - country of snow.
Drawing from that association I will post a tough one, which I only know from the place name: 新潟（にいがた）の潟 (がた）. It means “lagoon” and my local Japanese teacher said even their friend, a Japanese who grew up in Tokyo usually can’t properly write it when sending them post cards.
Meaning rough or wild, occurring in many compounds to describe wild weather, wild seas, etc. And also apparently 荒らし means “internet troll.” One of the compounds I learned when looking up this kanji is 荒唐無稽 meaning absurd, nonsensical, preposterous.
Hmm, this is a 常用漢字 (since 2010), but it’s not in WK, so it’s probably a relatively uncommon one.
My dictionary defines it as think or consider, and almost all of the listed word are variations of 稽古 (practice, training, study). Presumably it gets used in some circumstance that made it important enough to add, but I wonder what that would be.
This kanji has been around in since the beginning of kanji in Japan, meaning finger.
If you want to make metaphors, use body parts.
指す to nominate
指名手配 wanted by the police
目指す to aim at
Here is another body part. It is an uncommon kanji, but I think it is pretty.
I knew right away that this was likely to be a 表外字, a kanji not on the official 常用漢字 (common-use kanji) list.
Why? Because the right part is 僉, but in Jōyō kanji that part gets simplified down to 㑒. So when you see the original version, you are probably looking at a non-Jōyō kanji, or the traditional form of a simplified Jōyō kanji.
(There is actually an “unofficial” simplified version of this particular character: 𥇥.)
Anyway, the character itself means eyelid, which probably explains why we see a 目 on the left.
Before I close my eyelids, I’d like to suggest another same-component kanji:
For much the same reason that Zalathar suggests, we can be fairly certain just from looking at this kanji that it’s a shinjitai character, which is to say one with a simplified form that is specific to Japan, because the component 㑒 is different not only from the Traditional Chinese 僉 but also the Simplified Chinese 佥.
Wiktionary (citing Schuessler’s ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese) lists several words thought to be cognates with 険, all (sort of) having to do with things that are high, big or impressive:
Old Chinese (reconstructed)
ごん > げん
high, lofty > dangerous and important
げん > がん
high, lofty > cliff, rock
げん > がん
lofty, large > work
ごう > ぎょう
This is also thought to be connected to the Tibetan word རྔམས (rngams, “height, splendor”) and the Burmese ငြမ်း (ngram:, “scaffold”).
So if I understand correctly, the idea is that you must be doing something important (such as running a business, or carrying out some other important activity), and that’s why you have no free time to spare.
勇猛精進 engage in ascetic practices with dauntless spirit.
勇気百倍 inspire someone with fresh courage
勇往邁進 dash and go, pushing forward
勇気陰々 full of spirit, brimming with courage
勇猛果敢 daring and resolute
勇敢無比 being unmatched for bravery
勇猛無比 most brave
勇将弱卒 there are no cowardly soldiers under a superior general
The last one is a nice poetic expression. Yet reading the characters literally does not fully express the meaning. Literally we have Courageous General Weak Soldier, but I think that 卒 is used in the sense to death, so Courageous General Weak Die. Or maybe the “no” is just not explicitly stated: Courageous General, No Weak Soldier.
This is one of those kanji where even though the parts never made sense to me (it’s a phono-semantic compound, 犬 in けものへん form gives the category of the meaning and 孟 just supplies the pronunciation) I never had any trouble remembering it or how to write it. It’s weird that some kanji are just like that.
It’s not too difficult in readings or meanings either… it pretty much is always もう in common words and it’s pretty much always “fierce.” It might have more obscure uses, I’m not sure, but that’s pretty much it for jouyou content.
It’s literally “Courageous General, Weak Soldier.” You have to know the full meaning on its own to know that it’s about “no weak soldiers.” Many yojijukugo come from old Chinese expressions or stories (as opposed to just being invented originally as yojijukugo) and if you don’t have the context of the original you wouldn’t necessarily be able to guess what the meaning was. I don’t think it’s more complicated than that.
一 is arguably the simplest kanji, but there are situations where its simplicity can be an issue. For example, if you’ve agreed to pay somebody 一万円 for something, you wouldn’t want them to draw a few extra lines into the contract to make it 三万円, 五万円, 十万円 or even 千万円.
To get around this issue, both Chinese and Japanese have an additional set of more complex numerals that are used on banknotes and legal documents. In Chinese, they are called 大寫 (dàxiě) and in Japanese they are called 大字.
The Chinese 大寫 equivalent of 一 is the homophone 壹 (“faithful, committed” in Classical Chinese). In Japanese, the simplified shinjitai version 壱 is used, instead, as can be seen in this 壱万円 banknote:
Adding to this: As far as I can tell (from sources like Kotowaza Allguide), this does indeed come from a Chinese classic. Specifically, it appears to be from Su Shi’s 題連公壁, where it is rendered (at least in modern Chinese sources) as 強將下無弱兵, or 強將手下無弱兵, or something similar, in which the negation 無 is more explicit.
As you say, yojijukugo often don’t make much sense unless you know the reference (or have absorbed the meaning from observing its contemporary use). Often they are a list of two things, but the actual profundity comes from the relationship between those things, which usually is not stated within the yojijukugo itself. Sometimes, that relationship is a comparison, sometimes it is a correlation, sometimes it is a contrast, sometimes it is causal relationship.
五十音順 (lit. fifty sound order) is the ordering used in modern Japanese for sorting things based on their kana spelling.
It divides the base kana into ten rows (行) based on their initial consonant sound (or null consonant), and then arranges the items in each row in あいうえお order.
The order of the rows is: あ・か・さ・た・な・は・ま・や・ら・わ. So for example, the next kana after お is か, and so on.
(This ordering of consonants was originally based on Sanskrit, but has some differences due to pronunciation shifts over time.)
Despite its name, the 10x5 arrangement does not contain 50 sounds, because there are no kana for yi/ye/wu, and because the kana ゐ/ゑ are no longer in regular use. There is also not an orderly place for ん, so it gets slotted in after を in the ordering.
There are rules for placing small kana (っゃゅょ) and voiced/semivoiced kana (e.g. ば, ぱ) after their regular versions.
五十音順 has mostly replaced a system known as 以呂波順, which arranged kana in an order based on a particular poem that included each base kana exactly once.