well; town
Kanji 1470

Thank you for visiting this Character Home Page. Below you'll find a synopsis of the essay. If you wish to read the full text, the PDF of the essay is available for purchase to the right.


Why have the Japanese worshipped well water, shouted down wells, and jokingly called the Edo era the "Ido" era? How do people use the shape of a well in everything from kimono cloth to business slang? How does 井 figure into economic and political discussions? Find out all of this and much more, including the role of wells in folktales, proverbs, and Haruki Murakami's fiction. 

Revision History:

Dec. 5, 2023:

  • p. 3: Fixed a formatting problem.
  • p. 11: Added a def. for 井桁の形.
  • p. 12: Fixed a broken link.

Aug. 5, 2022: p. 21: Slightly modified the saying about looking at the ceiling; now the English translation reflects 髄. Also made slight changes to the surrounding text accordingly.

Oct. 11, 2021: Fixed a link on p. 11.

Jan. 29, 2021:

  • p. 1: Deleted “community” as a major meaning in the Character Profile. That must have been left over from my early thinking about this kanji.
  • pp. 1–2: Redefined 丼 as “bowl,” not “large bowl.”
  • p. 2: Clarified the text in the Etymology Box.

Jan. 10, 2020:

  • p. 2: Etymology Box: Replaced the old Henshall etymology with the new one.
  • p. 19: Improved the last sample sentence, as the Japanese was awkward.
  • p. 21: Added a link to the Kanshudo games.

Nov. 20, 2018: p. 7: Significantly revised the first photo caption.

Apr. 11, 2013: Originally published.


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