JOK Notebook


I've just posted essay 1513 on 双 (pair), which will have you seeing double, given its focus on two-of-a-kind things. Here's one example:

Photo Credit: Sui Feng

Osaka schoolgirls.

If seeing double excites you, how about kanji "triples"? On page 53 of my 2009 book Crazy for Kanji, I list characters in which the same component appears three times (almost always in a pyramidal stack) and in which there are no other components. Examples range from 三 (three), 品 (item, goods), and 森 (forest), all of which are commonplace, to 轟 (to roar, thunder) and 姦 (wicked, immoral, noisy), both of which are non-Joyo.

I believed the list was complete, but I've just come across two more. Thanks to Susan Stevens's bio in the "Who We Are" section of this site, I'm now aware of the non-Joyo 掱 (ゼイ,セイ, セツ, けば, むかげ: down, fluff).

Furthermore, a new restaurant in Berkeley, California, is called Kiraku, the ki coming from a non-Joyo stack of 七s (sevens) and the raku coming from 楽 (pleasure):

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

I've also seen this 七 pyramid in a saké label on a Seattle restaurant's website. However, it was one of those annoying websites where the images rotate like 回転寿司 (かいてんずし: revolving sushi), and the bottle spun away before I could capture it in a screenshot. 

Anyway, the 七 triple originated in the "grass script" (草書, そうしょ) version of 喜 (キ, よろこ•ぶ: happy), which looks like this:

With the yomi of キ and よろこ, the 七 triple is synonymous with 喜 and essentially shares its yomi.

The restaurant name Kiraku is an allusion to 喜怒哀楽 (きどあいらく: human feelings, joy + anger + sorrow + amusement), a word I discuss in essay 1639 (怒: anger). If you choose the two positive feelings bookending that four-kanji compound, you have 楽, which one would read as kiraku.

The stacked 七 kanji also has a lucky association with one's 77th birthday, known as 喜寿 (きじゅ: 77th birthday). Incidentally, one blog does a great job of explaining the special names of certain ages, including 77. Of course, 77 includes only two 7s, not three, but people associate the 七 triple with 77 because, as you can see from the cursive image above, it's not quite a triplet stack. It looks more like 七, which is the way to write 77 in kanji.   

I think it would make more sense to link the 七 pyramid with one's 777th birthday. But I do understand that that's an awfully long time to wait when you're eager to celebrate an auspicious occasion.

Don't forget to check out essay 1513 on 双 (pair). You'll find a preview here. The link also provides a glimpse of the new essay on 恵 (1196: blessing; favor). As it happens, yesterday the Japanese celebrated Setsubun (分: season + division), a day that traditionally marked the end of winter. On Setsubun one eats sushi rolls known as 恵方巻 (えほうまき). The 恵 essay contains a bit about those rolls and about Setsubun. The festival also involves driving out 鬼 (おに: demons), and essay 1128 on 鬼 tells you everything you need to know about those creatures! I've just completed a first draft of an essay on 豆 (1640: bean), and that, too, relates to Setsubun, but of course the essay isn't ready yet. I'll mention it here next year on Setsubun! Should be ready by then!

Have a great weekend!


eve's picture
At the end of this entry, I mention various essays with Setsubun connections. Well, it turns out there's one more. I'm currently working on the 虎 (2005: tiger) essay, and I just learned this hilarious tidbit: The demons known as oni are thought to wear tiger-striped underwear (as if they weren't fierce enough already!), so when people dress up as oni for Setsubun, they may wear tiger-striped underwear. Two photos of this:


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