Answers to The Japan Guy Kanji Quiz

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Let’s take a brief look at the chart once more:

YESTERDAY'S KANJI

Okay ladies and gents! Let’s see how you did. The answers below show the word and the corresponding kanji character. I also included a brief explanation of each one. Check it out!

1. One 一
One, single, solitary dash seems fitting to me. So the next time somebody asks you if you know kanji, you can show them how well you can write the kanji for the number “one.”

2. Two 二
If one dash is the number one, guess what the number two is? Two dashes!!

3. Three 三
Three dashes!

4. River 川
If you chose this one as the number three, I can definitely see why, they both have three dashes. The only slight differences with this kanji are that a) the dashes run vertically and b) there is that small curve to dash on the far left.

5. Mountain 山
If you connect three points at the top of this kanji with a curved line, what would this symbol look like? A mountain.

6. Car 車
Not the fanciest of car drawings to say the least but the box in the middle is like the body of the car, while the horizontal lines above and below the box are like the wheels.

7. Forest 森
Can you see the three trees that make up this small forest?

8. Mother 母
I’m not being gross or anything, but this kanji is actually a picture of a mother’s breasts. I’ll let you guess what the dashed lines in the boxes represent.

9. Rain 雨
I don’t know if the whole kanji looks like a rain symbol, but the four, small, slanted dashes look like raindrops blowing in the wind.

10. Middle  中
Where does the vertical line sit? In the middle of the rectangle.

11. Rice Field 田
If you ever seen any of Japan’s countryside, this kanji perfectly represents a rice field.

12. Goods 品
This kanji is kind of a stretch, but I think it fits. It’s three boxes of stuff. I imagine going into Costco or some warehouse seeing stacks of boxed “goods.”

13. Dish, Plate 皿
This looks like three plates resting in dishwashing rack to me.

14. Sake, Alcohol 酒
Anybody see a sake/alcohol flask in this picture?

15. Fire 火
I think of a small flame every time I see this kanji.

Did you get ‘em all right? If not, don’t worry, this was just for fun, remember? Did you have fun? I hope so.

Sigh, if only you could look at any kanji and glean a clear meaning from it. If this were the case it would be far easier for foreigners to pick up the kanji. But as you study more and more kanji, as you learn more about why kanji look the way they do, the game changes a bit. If you’re struggling to learn kanji, take heart because you’re not the first and you won’t be the last. Think in pictures and try to have fun learning them.

GOOD LUCK!!

Donald Ash

P.S.-Which kanji can you think of that really look like what they’re supposed to represent?

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  • Matthew Wallace

    車 Car, Wheel. In your modern frame of reference looks kind of like a car, but think back to when this was created, it kind of looks like a 2 wheeled cart or wagon.

    門 Gate. Looks like a doorway or opening, I always thought it looked like the old batwing doors from an old west movie.

    父 Father. Not intuitive, but once you see the sad / serious face that this makes you think of dad.

    工 Construction / Craft. In modern terms it looks like a cross section of a steel I beam used for construction purposes, in old terms it looks like a pillar holding the roof up and attached to the ground or floor.

    If you like looking up Kanji by their subparts you can use this reference site:
    http://jisho.org/kanji/radicals/

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks for some awesome info, Matthew. Truly truly appreciate you taking the time to post!

  • Regina

    I want to learn Japanese but the difference from my Mother Tongue has intimidated me so much!!

    The sounds. The characters. The “wa”s and watashi vs the other “I”s.

    Your article has made it less intimidating.

    I wont lie and say I will pick up a book RIGHT NOW but I am more willing to give it a try now. ^_^ Thanks.

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