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Commonly used kanji’s components don’t make a lot of sense nowadays, but once upon a time…

The Japanese language has three types of writing, and kanji are by far the most difficult. There are more than 2,000 kanji characters to remember, and that huge number is a daunting goal not just for foreigners learning Japanese as a second language, but for kids growing up in Japan as well.

But while learning kanji is always going to be a challenge, there’re a few ways to make it more manageable, and one of the best is to look for ways to break a single kanji down into its component parts. For example, the kanji character for “rest,” seen here…

…becomes easier to remember if you already know that 木 is the kanji for “tree,” and the left portion of 休 represents a person. In other words, the kanji for “rest” is a picture of a person leaning against a tree, taking a break and relaxing in the shade.

So yeah, kanji can be tough, but the more you learn, the easier they get…at least that’s usually how it goes. However, you might find yourself scratching your head when you come to the kanji for “take…”

since the left half is pretty much the same as the kanji for ear.

But maybe things instantly make sense when you add in the right half of 取? Not really, since the right portion means “hand,” making 取 a visual representation of “holding an ear.”

And it’s not like the metaphor is “grab someone …continue reading