Kanji Kanban Japanese Sign #141-Nio Guardians on the Train






Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photo if you need help reading this poster. Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the chracters more clearly.

The two imposing statues blocking the train’s doors are 仁王(におう).  Look for this menacing, muscular pair at the entrance of Buddhist temples in Japan and in other Asian countries.  They’re there to protect the Buddha from harm.

While they’re revered as divine guardians, they’re inconveniencing fellow passengers here by taking up a good deal of space and getting in the way of others who are getting on and off the train.

Though I’d seen them standing guard at temples countless times over the years, I didn’t know their name until this poster prompted me to ask my friend about the meaning behind this public service message.

Not only did I learn their name, but also a common expression that springs from it, 仁王立ち(におうだち), which refers to a way of standing, unsmiling, striking an intimidating pose, sometimes with arms crossed.   You can use this in daily life in ways like this:


Or this variation:


Here’s the first example in hiragana:


In this case my dad was mad, but this expression doesn’t always convey anger.  A  tired or disinterested salesperson might stand around like this,  not feeling angry, but giving off a stern and uninviting impression.  Certainly, the intimidating posture that law enforcement, bouncers and other security personnel often assume can be described as 仁王立ち。You can find more information about Nio statues here.

The numbers below refer to the kanji I’ve transcribed below the photo, and correspond to their order of appearance in both Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji and Kanji in Context.

To learn more about how this information can help you learn kanji, please read this.

Heisig(H988, H255, H431, H1585, H1308, H225, H860, H1585, H1308, H294, H1000, H1129, H739, H135)

Kanji In Context(KIC1879, KIC577, KIC174, KIC135, KIC136, KIC342, KIC443, KIC135, KIC136, KIC318, KIC365, KIC109, KIC113, KIC862)

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Originally posted 2013-04-11 00:15:42.

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