Sunday, February 05, 2006

Today's kanji : 友

Today's kanji is .

The blue part describes "right hand".
The red part describes "right hand", too.

People who shaking hands are...

Can you guess the meaning?

See the comments page for the answer!


  1. "People who shaking hands are...."

    友 means "friend".

    For example...
    友だち (tomodachi) : friend
    親友 (shinyuu) : best friend
    友情 (yuujoo) : friendship

    Friends are shaking hands... yes.
    Mybe next time, I'll post kanji of "love". (^ ^)

  2. Yes please post the kanji for love...

    but is it the same kanji for..

    love of family...

    love of something....(like food)

    love of lover.....

  3. Anonymous2:28 PM

    > 親友 (shinyuu) : best friend

    Out of curiousity, how often is that word used? I know in english we talk quite frequently about friends and best friends like someone would talk about their favorite foods. I didn't realize the term existed until now. Is it something you would say like "Oh, her? she's my best friend?" or is there a stronger feeling that is attached to that word?


  4. >Life in the superStructure

    Actually, there are two kanji for "love".
    One of them is just for "romantic love" and the another one is used for love for many situation.
    I'll talk about it for next blog. (^ ^)


    You use "shinyuu" when you talk about the relationship between you and your best friend to someone else.
    "Is she your close friend?" "Yes, she is my best friend." or something like that.
    In my opinion, the way of using "shinyuu (best friend)" is almost same in Japanese and English, too.

    > I know in english we talk quite frequently about friends and best friends like someone would talk about their favorite foods.

    In Japan, we often talk about friends.
    But taking about boyfriend / girlfriend is unusual except to your friends.
    I mean, in English, you often have conversation with your boss or/and co-worker like "What did you do on weekend?" "I went to Disney land with my girlfriend.", right?
    But in Japan, we usually don't talk about boyfriend/girlfriend so much compare to Western countries.

    Did you know that?
    What do you think!?

    1. I was wondering, if shinyuu is used to describe the relationship to someone else then what word should you use to describe that you are 'best friend' to your best friend? Like to say 'we are best friends' to that friend of yours?

  5. Anonymous6:35 AM

    I would say your assessment of western conversation is very accurate. ^_^ I would not have a problem with talking about my girlfriend with a co-worker / boss. In fact, since I used to work at a coffee shop, which was pridominately staffed by women, I often ended up getting advice on dating from them since I was a "really nice guy". Talking about friends is even easier, since a lot of my "friends" are all best friends really. All my co-workers like friends, even my bosses and teachers! Its not unusual for me to ask a teacher out to have coffee with the rest of my classmates, and that seems to weird out some of my native Japanese teachers, usually the female teachers anyway.

    As for knowing that about the whole boyfriend / girlfriend thing, I knew about it to an extent because I know bosses in Japan are not like bosses in America. Unless you're in a white-collar, office setting type of place, talking about that isn't taboo in America. Even in an office setting, its not really taboo but rather than a bit uncomfortable with a boss that isn't close with his or her employees under them. My understanding of Japanese business is just that, business. Such a relationship between employee and manager aren't common, and they're not within your social group because they would be technically "higher" than your social group since they're a manager and command that respect. The same way a teacher would command that respect from there students, right?

    That's kind of the problem I'm having with conversing with Japanese people actually. Since I"m very expressive and passionate with my english, its hard to do the same in Japanese due to the fact that I lack the structure and vocabulary to do so. My normal japanese is okay, but to really express myself it becomes strained. I know Japanese can be really expressive, I just don't know how yet. I learned when not to say 「大切な人」(taisetsunahito)to a girl when she's your friend (learned that the hard way with a exchange student when I was trying to cheer her up when she was feeling bad about her english test that was coming up, it scared her off and I didn't end up seeing her again. Little did I know at the time...) So I was curious about shinyuu because I was wondering if it had a deeper conotation than just "best friend".


  6. this is really cool site for Kanji study....

  7. >Christopher,

    I would say your assessment of Japanese conversation is very accurate, too! (^ ^)

    Before I knew western custom about that point, I didn't have any doubt about conversation in office in Japan.
    But now I would feel starange if I cannot talk about my boyfriend and don't ask even "how are you?" to my boss.
    (Fortunately, I don't work for a company, so I don't have any problem about it so far though.)
    Do you work for a Japanese company?

    In Japanese idea, talking about your boyfriend/girlfriend with your boss is too private and some (actually lots of) guys ashamed to talk about their girlfriend.

    "Talkative guys are unattractive" is Japanese old traditional idea.
    (I hope it's "old". But maybe it still lives.)

    As you said, in Japanse company, teachers/bosses would be "higher" than us, so the relationship between employees and bosses is quite "serious" all the time.
    It's too bad... some of them could be very good friends maybe "shinyuu" if they met in different situation, don't you think so?

    Also, you know, we have "keigo"(honorific words).
    You have to be careful in your choice of words according to the person whom you talk with.
    I think "keigo" describes clearly the relationship between the people.

    I'm sorry to hear about your exchange student.
    I guess "大切な友だち"(taisetsu na tomodachi) was okay.
    I'm not sure in English, but in Japanese "hito" has sometimes deeper nuance compare to "tomodachi".

    For some points, Japanese custom about the above things is good, I think.
    But I would like to know the idea, life, and interests of people whom I work together!

    >Life in the superStructure

    Thank you for letting me know another interesting website!
    I tried the quiz of the site.
    I was quite excited... (^ ^;)
    You know a lot of website about Japanese Language.
    How do you find them?

  8. Anonymous3:39 PM

    >Do you work for a Japanese company?

    Not exactly. In the past, I've done some side jobs for my Japanese teacher (I helped him work on his dissertation). For as his student, he treated me like a friend. But when I agreed to work for him a little, his attitude changed when I "worked" for him. I asked another Japanese Teacher I knew well about the sudden change in behavior, and she told me a bit about business practices in Japan. Since I currently live in Arizona, so any information I can get about Japan is very limited, but I try really hard to make sure I'm learning the facts about the Japanese culture as well as the language.

    >"Talkative guys are unattractive" is Japanese old traditional idea.

    That would explain a lot. ^_^;; I talk way too much for my own good, but I do a fair bit of listening too. But maybe I talk too much for Japanese people, I guess.

    >Also, you know, we have "keigo"(honorific words). You have to be careful in your choice of words according to the person whom you talk with. I think "keigo" describes clearly the relationship between the people.

    I'm well aquainted with "keigo", but unfortunately I'm not sure with whom I should use it with. That was especially true when I visited Japan last month for two weeks. I tried using it with my friend's grandparents, but they always seemed to ignore it and continued to talk with me in colloquial Japanese. So, I followed suit and they seemed more eager to talk with me more afterwards. I also have a bit of a problem when and when not to use the suffixes, such as "-san", "-chan", "-kun" and so on.

    >I'm not sure in English, but in Japanese "hito" has sometimes deeper nuance compare to "tomodachi".

    Wow, I didn't realize that it did. Unfortunately, in Japanese class they don't teach you those sorts of things. I feel that learning Japanese involves so much more than learning grammar, words, and structure. Learning how to use the language, the culture of the langugage, effectively is what is missing so much from learning in the classroom. Its a lot of hard work to understand, but I'm going to keep trying. (^_^)

    >For some points, Japanese custom about the above things is good, I think. But I would like to know the idea, life, and interests of people whom I work together!

    I agree. I'm really interested in learning more and more about Japanese customs. That way, I understand how Japanese people think, and I hope I can communicate better with Japanese people because we will be thinking the same way. I hope that makes sense (^.^;)

    Well, for example, my friend Chiho and I always talk to each other in English. But, when I make a joke in English, she doesn't understand. Her English is very good, and doesn't have an accent, so I forget that she knows English as a second language only. She doesn't know American culture very well, so my joke didn't make sense to her even though we speak the same language. The same happened to me while I was in Japan, but it was my turn not to understand. So now, when we do not understand each other we say, "We speak the same language, but we don't understand." So we made a joke out of not understanding, and we both understand that now.


  9. >"Talkative guys are unattractive" is Japanese old traditional idea.

    ... ok, I'm not talking next time we meet! (^o^)/y~

    Christopher, I've learnt that if possible it's best to 'play it safe' until you're sure. So use '-san' until you're very sure that you can switch to '-kun' etc. And even if an elder person is talking to you casually, unless you're sure of the relationship, still use reasonably polite Japanese (though, as Akiko could tell you, I don't know keigo well enough to use it). It may happen that a more senior person will be talking in very informal Japanese to you, but should you switch to informal Japanese back, they would be offended. I guess that's the meaning of keigo - to show the relationship.

  10. About keigo, yes, I think old people expect us to speak keigo when we talk to them, so that they can understand we "respect" them.
    As you may know, in Japan, age is very important when you decide which language you use casual Japanese or formal Japanese.
    If the person is older than you or you cannot tell their age, maybe using keigo is "safer".
    Some elder people are very sensitive about keigo and if younger people don't use keigo to them, those kind of people upset!

    I'm not sure if this example is good or not though... usually, people don't use casual Japanese to their parents in low forever...

    The way of using "san" "kun" and "chan" is sometimes difficult even for Japanese people.
    I think this is one of interesting Japanese culture.
    I'll make a blog for this topic later!
    Thank you for giving me an idea, Christopher!
    (^ ^)


    >... ok, I'm not talking next time we meet!

    But I'm sure you cannot do it! (^o^;)

  11. Anonymous4:20 PM

    As I mentioned, with my friend's granparents I used "keigo" with them when I met them. They didn't seem to take notice of me when I did. I dropped it down to just regular -masu form after a few days and they responded more to me when I talked to them. So we communicated a bit more that way a for a few days. Eventually they were backing off of that and started speaking a lot more informal with me, so with a few nudges here and there I started doing the same. That seemed to work well for them the best and I could hardly get a word in with my friend without the grandfather butting in and talking to me about the finer things in life (sake, tequila, that sort of stuff). He was definately different, he was the first person other than my friend to give me a hug me when I met him rather than the traditional "hajimemashite" routine. The grandmother was more formal, so I stuck with that most of the trip. She did give me a big hug and told me she didn't want me to go back to the US. I might of been dealing with exceptions to the rule of thumb for Japanese people, but I wasn't exactly in Tokyo for my trip. Which is why i was confused before, now I'm not thanks to your help Tom and Akiko! I'll keep that in mind when I talk to people in Japanese from now on.


  12. Francesca1:10 PM

    I really like this blog. I hope you will post more kanji and interesting things more often.

    thank you

  13. > Francesca

    Thank you for your comments.
    Yes, I'll try to update this blog more often!
    If you have any requests about the contents, just let me know please.

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