steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Japanese Diary 9

If you ever want strangers to come up and talk to you, I highly recommend copying kanji in public. I often go to a cafe to do this, and I have a notebook devoted to the purpose, which reveals to the untrained eye (they mostly are untrained) pages of Chinese writing - although of course actually just a random series of characters. People often ask me about it: is that Chinese or Japanese? Why are you learning it? Is it hard? The most recent was the guard on the train to York, whose daughter was teaching herself for much the same reasons as me, but he was only the latest in a long line. I haven't received anything like the same amount of strangerly attention since I went to those same cafes armed with babies.

Of course, once they find that I'm not only willing to talk but that I'm only too willing to talk (for the kanji furrow is a lonely one) they soon edge away, curiosity sated. The one man whose willingness to talk about kanji exceeded my own turned out to be on day release from the local mental asylum, as he cheerfully admitted. Perhaps there's a lesson there.

I think I said I would occasionally post some of my favourite kanji. This, which stands for yume (dream), is rather beautiful, I think, being composed of the elements for flower, eyes, cover and evening (in descending order). As Justice Caulfield said of Mary Archer - has it not fragrance?

Tags: nippon notes
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