Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photo if you need help reading this old sign in front of a Kyoto shop that’s long since closed. The sign is the only visible to clue as to what sort of shop it was exactly, and I’m not quite sure what type of oil it offered. But it was likely a store that sold 灯油(とうゆ), kerosene commonly used as heating oil in winter. If you look at the two characters that make up the compound, you’ll notice they literally mean ‘lamp-oil.’
This simple kanji character is used for a variety of oils in Japan, including ones you can eat. In fact, in the edible realm, not only oils but some sauces like soy sauce(醤油,しょうゆ) also use this kanji.
On the other hand, oils like olive oil that have become popular in Japan relatively recently sometimes are known by their English names, so olive oil is most often written in katakana and called オリーブオイル.
The numbers below refer to the kanji I’ve transcribed below the photo, and correspond to its 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.
Kanji In Context(KIC624)
Originally posted 2013-09-22 00:02:56.