Hand-Painted Kanji: Eternal
As a way of mediation, contemplation, and preparation for the new year, I decided to write down 400 kanji (the sino-Japanese text). In an effort to call forth positive energy into my life this new year, only characters that had some positive connotation were chosen. The kanji are chosen from a list of 1,947 kanji that can be found in the reference book “Kanji in Context” The list includes all Joyo kanji. Joyo simply refers to the set of kanji that have been set up by the Japanese Ministry of education as mandatory for all students up through secondary school. The Japanese language in total consists of roughly 3,000 separate kanji characters but luckily for us non-native speakers any kanji outside of the list of 1,945 Joyo kanji that is used in Japanese newsprint must be accompanied by corresponding furigana.
So with this in mind I set out to create a list of 400 kanji that have some kind of positive denotation. Of course it occurrs to me that there will be some subjectivity when it comes to determining what things are positive and what things are not so please do not regard this list as definitive. There are certain characters which may have positive connotations if not widely then personally and I am sure that we all can agree that certain gray areas are quite acceptable. Also be aware than many kanji can have more than one meaning: 安(AN) for example can mean either safe or cheap.
What becomes clear as the list is being made is that there are relatively few kanji that have positive denotations. Out of the 1,947 kanji reviewed only a few hundred can really be handpicked as uplifting, positive, soothing, etc. The final hundred or so come down to things that I would like to consider as positive. That is to say, these final kanji are no more positive than they are negative but because I have no more positive kanji I simply have to settle for something which is at least not harmful or negative. You will see that many elements of nature stand in for the final section. Also notice that I chose to include many elements of the body because any and all good feelings must originate and radiate from the body.
The list is as follows:
(If you want to know the meaning: Go to this site->Polarcloud and download Rikaichan for Firefox, Thunderbird, or Seamonkey. Then download the corresponding dictionary. Now all that is left is to simply activate Rikaichan and hover your mouse over the kanji you want to know more about and VIOLA! )
That’s it. That should be 400. For those of you who can read Japanese (or Chinese as well) it should be easy to tell that some of the characters above are a bit of a stretch; “Peach Tree” (桃) would be one such case. No matter, my point is not that there are exactly 400 examples of positive kanji but it is that fact that there are really quite fewer than that number. While the amount of kanji people are required to know in order to read a newspaper in Japan may be roughly 2,000, of those less than 1/5th of them are positive even just slightly! Let me repeat, fewer than one-fifth of all the Chinese characters used in Japanese text are positive even slightly. Continue reading