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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]
kanji 101: Kanashii

I have a new way to use this journal to maximum annoyance potential! An informal survey of four people who like me too much reveals that nobody objects to me hopping onto a soapbox and babbling on about kanji I like. So, every whenever-I-get-to-it, expect a quick-sprawled calligraphy and explanation of a kanji. So:

This is 'Hi', sad. The lower piece (shin) is a stylized image of a heart, figuratively feelings/thoughts/mind.
The top (also called hi) is a stylized image of wings, from a pictograph of a bird spreading wings to fly off. It originally meant 'to fly away from' and came to mean 'turn away from', 'seperate' and 'not'.
This character exemplifies a lot of what I find fascinating about studying kanji etymology. It's a pun, but a very poetic one. The wing-image is used because it has the same sound as the concept in question ("hi"), because alone it conveys the concept 'not'. But also because it conveys seperation/loss/distance and opening/rending and freedom/flight. Meanings within meanings.

And it doesn't hurt that the kanji itself is very beautiful in form.


  • This kanji is dedicated to eisa for no reason whatsoever.
  • Several Japanese poetic forms depend on this sort of depth of meaning, most notably renga, though there are some haiku.
  • If you're seeing this and you don't want to, tell me, and I'll move it to friends-only, or a special group.
  • I will be only too glad to tackle any kanji requested of me, or attempt to find kanji for certain meanings. I love a puzzle.

Re: comments:

I would like to see a kanji (and corvid musings, of course) that has as a meaning the idea of "fleeting"/"transient."
that would be truly nifty.
as was this one.

I like kanji posts. I've always been fascinated by the forms and layered meanings, and your calligraphy is gorgeous.

How about a kanji for polyamory? *grins*

OoooooOoooo. That is a challenge.
You've probably heard the old saw about the kanji for 'trouble' being a depiction of two women under one roof. I'm still trying to figure out if that is true.

I have a kanji request (well, two, actually) but they're private, so I will ask you later.