Friday, March 28, 2014

Studying Kanji

Me and my sisters loved loved loved shopping in Japan.  Mostly we loved loved loved shopping for food products.  Unfortunately, unlike back home, there is no English label on the packaging to help us.  

I hope we get to go back again next year.  And so, in preparation, I'm studying kanji.

I can read hiragana and katakana so when I bought this at Daimaru Department store in Hokkaido, I knew that this was some kind of garlic condiment.  If I knew how to read the kanji back then I would've known that this is actually garlic miso.

I bought this thinking it was garlic furikake.  It turned out to be garlic shichimi . . . which is actually even better . . . and had I known that, I would've bought more than this one bottle.

I also bought a few of these tiny bottles of shoyu.  I didn't know back then that it was konbu shoyu. I love the flavor.

Here's what I've been doing to help me to memorize.  First, I try to turn the kanji into a picture.  This character is "mame" (bean). I think of the bean as an almighty bean sitting on top of a pedestal with a crown on.

These two characters spell out "miso".  The squares to the left of each look like shields to me. So I imagine that they're guards and they're guarding there precious cache of miso.  Not working for you?  My sister Geri too.  She said, "Wha? I don't see it."  LOL.

This is "sake" (alcohol).  I imagine the part on the right is a face. The three strokes on the left are his fingers and he's drinking some sake. He even has a little smile.

This is "shio" (salt).  This looks like Hannibal Lecter's mask to me.   I picture him eating some lamb with a pinch of salt.

This one is kind of easy.  It's "sakana" (fish).  The four strokes on the bottom are fins.

Problem is . . . this one is "uma" (horse).

And this one is "tori" (bird).

Which leads me to my second method of memorization . . . flash cards.  You like me make for you too?  Let me know.  Only thing . . . this is a work in progress, so dunno when I'm gonna be done.  Maybe soon.  Maybe not.

And finally . . . my third method. Repetition. While I'm watching TV, I try to fill in the blank spaces.

I bought these pens to help make writing the kanji more fun.  The one in the middle is my favorite. It's from Marukai.  Was only $1.99.  

I keep um in this pencil case that I got from Sweetie.  Cute yah!


Anonymous said...

I'm very impressed that you are learning all this. Hope this method works for me too! But,
Hey! Because of you, I just ordered all those books from Amazon....the one the guy in your video mentioned. Vol 1&2 and the one for learning kana (hira and kata). I know hiragana but not katakana. I guess leaving for Japan in May so not too much time but just got email that it shipped!

Susan said...

I can see your pictures! The horse one is a carriage being pulled by a horse that u don't see. And the "bird" is perched up high on a building with a parking lot at the bottom!! See the cars parked? Lol

Kalin's Mommy said...

OMG, I feel overwhelmed already...haha

Anonymous said...

I see the pictures,too....wonder if that says something;) btw are you watching tv and drawing while,your husband is salving over Dinner?;)

Mokihana said...

I love that Kanji makes pictures... I really applaud you for learning it. Building brain cells, too!

Anonymous said...

Wow Jalna way to go. Looking at the kanji you wrote it seems the 4 slashes, squared rectangle with the hat appears the same for the first two rows, but the 2nd character changes for sushi, unagi, etc. So that first character seems like the basic and then the second changes the meaning. Did you take Japanese from Mrs. Lopez (the heavy smoker) too? I gave up after hiragana, I was like 'I gotta learn KATAKANA too?' My brain just shut down. Of course I have to sound out the hiragana a few times to get it. Pls. continue to post, I'll learn with you though I know I won't memorize it. -N.

Dd said...

OMGAWWWDDDD...... ;o [

Anonymous said...

J: checked with my mom, the first character the one with the antenna, checkered square with 4 feet stands for fish or sakana. Therefore the 2nd character indicates what kind of fish, that is why all of them have the first character. But then not all have 2nd character becuz my mom wrote one for niku or beef and it's one character, while pork or buta is another character. She has slight dementia so she can't recall all the characters but if she sees it she can i.d. it. But apparently there is a modern way of writing vs. the way she learned. I guess pre-war Japanese. To her recollection it was just memorization of the characters. In her day they started off learning katakana then graduated to kanji. Kan means Chinese, interesting no? As she was writing for me, there was no hesitation as she added the squiggles, lines so fast and so many of 'em.

I copied your examples very badly it seemed as when I first showed it to her, she said that's all wrong, that has to move there, and what is THAT suppose to mean, etc. LOL Well whatcha expect from an illerate?

My mind is now on overload, need to watch some no brainer t.v.


SW said...

Love your Totoro pencil case! cute!
good luck learning Kanji..

Leslie's pics said...

hahaha you so funny...i'm gonna take japanese class from you before I go Japan. Konbu shoyu???!?! I gotta look for that! I wanna try the garlic shichimi too! by the way...might...just MIGHT be headed to osaka/tokyo in may. Got two weeks of vacay to kill before July so I'm hoping to get on a flight with my cousin's buddy passes :)

Dd said...

BTW--wasn't there different types of shoyu...were they all the same ?? I thought you bought like 3 ??

jalna said...

Yay Anon!! I'm so excited for you. Happy studying! And have a great trip.

Susan, I can see your pictures!!!! LOL!!

Baby steps, Mich.

No Anon . . . it's usually AFTER he slaves away making dinner. Hahaha.

So cool yah, Moki.

No, N, I didn't have Mrs. Lopez. I had an older Japanese man. I don't even remember his name. I was a really, really poor student. I think it's so cool that you can go to your mom with kanji questions. Wouldja believe my mom's mom was born on Kauai and not Japan. I think I know more Japanese than her.


Thanks Shun Wah!

Ooooh Les, I hope you get to go back. I'll be majorly jealous!! Hard for believe you got 2 weeks to kill. You usually use um all up traveling all over the place.

I bought 4, Didi. According to Kat (Adventures in Japan) they were shoyu made from different types of konbu.

Honolulu Aunty said...

Whoa! That looks harder than Greek! The kanji all look the same to me...

You would be great at calligraphy!

jalna said...

Aunty, I went to Japanese school when I was a kid, so I'm not starting from scratch. Otherwise, no way I would be trying this.

Nippon Nin said...

Ha ha ha, this is so fun! I really don't know much of kanjis for fish name. Me and most of my Japanese friends use katakana for that, maguro, sake etc.

K and S said...

good job! repetition writing was how I memorized some :)

jalna said...

Hey Akemi! I'd rather use katakana too!

jalna said...

Thanks Kat! Unfortunately, nowadays I gotta repeat more and more.

Randism said...

my hat's off to you; i'm hopeless! no chance of me EVER learning kanji!

jalna said...

Desire is what keeps me going, Rand. Otherwise, I woulda quit a long time ago.