The Heart of Kanji

THE HEART OF KANJI: Life and death as one

生 (sei) means “life.” The bottom represents the soil and the top indicates a new plant, which comes out from the soil. 死 (shi) means “death.” The top and left side lines indicate a bone, and the right indicates a person upside down in the ground. 一 (ichi) means “one.” 如 (nyo) means “same.” The left side is a […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Haku to kanau: Putting out positive thoughts to fulfill wishes

吐く (haku) means to “throw out or speak out.” The left side of the kanji character represents a mouth. The characters on the right represent a plus or minus sign. So haku means to throw out both good or bad things or to speak good or bad words. If you simply change the second character […]


真 (makoto, shin, ma) means truth. This kanji character is in the form of a person who is upside down, which indicates that the person is dead. The truth is that all of us will die someday. Like the saying goes, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: (Nihon Machi Hyaku Jyu Nen) 110th year of San Francisco’s Japantown

æ—¥ (ni, hi, nichi) means sun or day. This character is from the shape of the sun. 本 (hon, moto) means origin or book. This character is from the shape of a tree and its roots. Together, this character is Nihon or Japan. 町 (machi) means town. This character indicates two parts. The left side […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Visiting Japan

Last October, Alice and I visited Japan. We left San Francisco on Oct. 21 via All Nippon Airways. An Australian stewardess who spoke fluent Japanese served us on the airplane. She tried to pour water into a plastic cup. I stopped her and asked if she could change from plastic to paper. I explained to […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Beautiful heart

Happy new year! I would like to talk about a “beautiful heart.” 美しい (utsukushii) means “beautiful or attractive,” which consists of two parts. The top part represents the form of a beautiful ram and the bottom part is a person who is standing. Together, utsukushii is a beautiful or attractive person. 心 (kokoro) means “heart,” […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Thank you, for both good and bad times or situations

良し (yoshi or yoi) means “good,” and represents to put something in or to take it out of a major box and adjust it to keep a good or correct amount in the box. 悪し (ashi or aku) means “bad,” and consist of two parts. The top part represents a bad shape and the part […]


æ ¹ (Ne) means “roots.” This kanji character consists of two parts. The left side represents a tree and the right side represents the roots. So “ne” is a tree’s roots. The Konko founder’s teaching says, “If you take care of the roots of a tree, then its branches will grow lush. Respect your ancestors, then […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: To hear and to listen to

聞く (Kiku) means “to hear,” which consists of two parts. The center lines represent an ear, and outside of the lines represent an entrance gate. Together, our ears are the entrance gate for sound or words. 聴く (Kiku) means “to listen to,” which consists of four parts. The left side is an ear and the […]

2014: Joy of giving and receiving

I’d like to talk about the joy of giving and receiving today. 受ける (ukeru) means “receiving,” which consists of three parts. The top lines represent the fingers of one’s hand, and below it represents a boat. The bottom line is one’s arm. When the boat brings back some items, one’s hands, fingers and arm receive […]

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