Before going to the second paragraph, try reading the characters on these old doors, and use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool on the kanji I’ve transcribed just below the photo if you need help.
These are both常用漢字 (general use kanji) and they make an interesting pair visually, with the one on the left becoming an element in the other, where it’s partially enclosed by a component that’s referred to as a まだれ, or sometimes as a ‘dotted cliff’ in English.
The first character is one of the first that beginning kanji students often learn, but this reading is different from the one used when it stands alone.
Click on the photo to see the characters on this packaging more clearly. How many of the seven words that I’ve transcribed below the photo can you read or understand?
Hover your mouse over them with the rikaichan popup dictionary or use your favorite reference tool if you need help.
This package appealed to me because of its clean, no frills design and the number of useful kanji that it includes in a compact message.
These lightly sweetened muffins are made by Yamazaki, one of Japan’s largest baked goods companies and an iconic brand here. The link will take you to their English site, which has a short, interesting summary of their history.
From there, if you click on the Japanese site link, you can get some fun, quick reading practice by trying to pick up words on the revolving header that features lots of color and photos of their products and a limited amount of script, so it won’t overload you. Interesting too to get a sense of what the general public’s taste buds are responding to these days.
You can also click on their CM情報 link to see their latest commercials, for some authentic listening practice. Commercials are referred to as ‘CM’ in Japanese.
The entire site’s dynamic and well done and is worth a quick look even if you don’t read Japanese, just to get a feel for how large companies like this market themselves here. If you study Japanese and are building your reading skills, rikaichan or another popup dictionary can help you to pick out some content here and on other sites and enjoy it without getting bogged down.
Oh, and the 甘食 were good, too. My resolve to wait until after I wrote this to eat them obviously wasn’t very strong!
Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool on the text I’ve transcribed just below the photo if you need help reading this sign.
Even if you’re learning katakana and aren’t very familiar with kanji yet, you might be able to sight read these words based on the context of this photo, or recognize individual characters or often seen elements within them.
The katakana word will also give you a clue about what the others might mean, and about what products and services this shop offers.
Use the rikaichan popup dictionary on the text I’ve transcribed just below the photo if you need help reading this sign.
I took this at night in Kyoto in an area where there’s been a lot of road work at night, which involves diverting traffic.
I’d only just learned the reading of 夜間yesterday when I transcribed them in my post about this traffic safety poster, which you might want to check for more reinforcement after reading this post, if you haven’t read it yet.
工事（こうじ）is a common compound meaning construction or road work.
I was happy to see やかん again so soon after writing my last post and to have the chance to test my recall. This sign makes them hard to miss!
I was curious about other common collocations and found 夜間授業（やかんじゅぎょう） in one of the example sentences given by the Denshi Jisho online Japanese dictionary, meaning ‘night classes.’
Once my attention was focused on this sign, it gave me some other
useful examples of familiar characters that I’d understood but couldn’t read with confidence.
The character 翌 looked familiar and the context gave me the meaning, ‘the following’ or ‘next.’ The sign abbreviates the compound 翌日（よくじつ）, which is the form that I’ve seen this character take in the past. I also realized that without a clear context like this, I might confuse it with 習おう, to learn.
Thanks to this sign I’ll steer clear of that mistake!
Use the rikaichan popup dictionary or your favorite reference tool with my transcription below the photo if you need help reading this sign. Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the characters more clearly.
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(H414, H818, H1077, H15, H1441, H70)
Kanji In Context(KIC1343, KIC169, KIC1084, KIC168, KIC166, KIC393)