THE HEART OF KANJI: Prayer and leaving it to Kami/Universe

This is the fourth rule for a harmonious relationship. 祈 り (ki, inori) means “prayer.” The left side represents an offering on a table for Kami, and the right side indicates an axe. After hunting animals with the axe, you can offer the animal to Kami on the altar. 任 す(nin, makasu) means “leave up.” […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Unconditional, without expectation

This is the second rule for a harmonious relationship (to read the first, please see the March 29, 2018 issue of the Nichi Bei Weekly): 無 (mu) means “nothingness.” The bottom four dots are fire flames. The middle lines represent a house and the top lines represent a new life growing from the ground. The […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: 100 percent effort

百 (hyaku) means “hundred,” which indicates the shape of a nose. You can breathe in and out of your nose 100 or more times. 努 (doo or tsutomu) means “effort.” 女 (onna) means “woman,” which represents the sitting form of a woman. 又 (mata) means “the crotch” and 力 (chikara or ryoku) means “power,” which […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Inu Doshi — Year of the Dog

戌 (Inu) means “dog.” This character represents an axe, a symbol for power, and the number one. So the dog can use the axe to gather many things into one. 年 (Toshi or Nen) means “year or age.” The top two lines of this character indicate a rice plant, and the lines below indicate a […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Nothingness

無 (mu) means “nothingness.” The bottom four strokes indicate fire flames, the character in the middle indicates a house, and the top lines represent a new life emerging from the burning home. When the house burns down and becomes ashes, new life can grow from that. The kanji (mu) teaches us that although we may lose everything, […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Love of heaven and earth

天 (Ten) means “heaven.” The top line indicates the sky or universe and the bottom lines indicate a big person who is standing with open hands. 地 (Chi) means “earth or soil.” The left side represents the ground and the right side symbolizes a snake. This is to show that the earth is not flat, […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: First shrine or temple visit of the Japanese New Year

初 (Hatsu) means “first” or “beginning.” The left side of this character represents clothes or kimono. The right side indicates a knife. To make a kimono, one must first cut the cloth. 詣 (Mode or mairu) means “to visit a shrine.” The left side of the character indicates talking. The top of the right side indicates people and the bottom of the right […]

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 […]

THE HEART OF KANJI: Truth

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.” […]

Zen living in Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. — Aside from running the renown jazz club and Japanese restaurant Yoshi’s in Oakland, Calif., the club’s owners and former married couple Yoshie Akiba and Kaz Kajimura share a uniquely Japanese home in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland. The home, built in the early 1960s next to a great brick Catholic priory, features […]

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