The Kanji Conundrum

people walking on street near buildings

When you’ve lived in Japan for more than 10 years, and have spoken the language for even longer, it can be a bit annoying to hear your friend with rudimentary Japanese being complimented on their Japanese prowess for simply saying ‘Arigato‘. I’ve since gotten used to it with the understanding that ‘Nihongo Jozu‘ doesn’t actually mean you’re good at Japanese, rather it’s an acknowledgment of the fact that you have some sort of ability in the language, however minimal.

Japanese people can be very quick to judge at times. They can also be very shallow, often complimenting people on their looks rather than achievements. I think the West is right in putting the onus on achievements, rather than vanity, as this is a better, and healthier, motivator for us as humans (reminds me of the tragedy of Betty Draper from Mad Men).

Which is to say, you can easily fool people with what I call the Kanji Conundrum. Learn how to write a very difficult word in Kanji, one common example is 鬱 うつ Utsu, which means depression. Learn this Kanji, then tell people you can write it, and they automatically assume you know all of the Kanji up to that one (in terms of difficulty), and that you have somehow mastered Japanese. Well, at least this works for a party trick, but I guess that’s about all it’s useful for.



Subscribe to my yamabushi newsletter


a statue of a man near the clouds
Staying in the game
woman draw a light bulb in white board
Idea Execution
photo of an athlete swimming underwater
Just beyond the comfort zone


woman sitting while using laptop
Something worth writing home about
Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi
Modern-day Dewa Sanzan Yamabushi
man in black coat listening to music
A smile is all it takes


person standing in pathway
The power in the subtle
Use The Uketamo Mindset to Take Charge
bored formal man watching laptop at desk
Educated Guesses
Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

Get In Touch

Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...
%d bloggers like this: