What does the above look like to you? If you don’t have Japanese text installed, it’s probably just a big question mark but for those who do, please take a nice long look at it.
Say what you see.
I see a shocked woman looking at a tree.
Confused? Welcome to the wonderful world of Kanji.
I’ve been learning Kanji for a while now and because it can be so bloody difficult, people employ many different methods to get them in their head.
Each Kanji is a pictogram, so in theory each one should be a picture which represents things. Sometimes this works quite well, such as this example:
So there you are, “tree” is something that looks vaguely like a tree, “woods” is two trees and seeing that a forest is bigger than a wood, three trees is “forest”.
All very neat and tidy, however sometimes it seems to stretch logic a bit.
So a picture of a “cliff and a piece”, which becomes something that vaguely looks like an elephant if you squint a bit, means “stone”.
In all fairness however, every Kanji book uses different pictures and some work better than others. Here is my book’s attempt at “woman”.
So, some indistinct lines, followed by more ill-defined lines becomes “woman”. Really? In other books I have seen pictures as varied as a woman in a hat and my personal favourite, a woman on all fours scrubbing, somehow transformed to that symbol for “woman”.
Some other kanji are made by combining two different ones such as this:
It’s rather clever but at my stage of Kanji knowledge I only realise this once I’ve learnt it.
So it all comes down to how you yourself best visualise each Kanji, everyone is different after all. Which brings us neatly back to this:
This Kanji means sakura (cherry blossom). So what I see is a lady walking into a park, she spies a lovely pink tree covered with blossom and exclaims, “Ahhh! How beautiful”. So there you go, a shocked woman looking at a tree. It all makes sense really, all you need is to look at things in a certain way.