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kanji-a-day:

546/2000

JLPT: N1

School Grade: 3rd (8 years old)

This character is a combination of the roof radical and a non-general use character meaning “vertebrae” (though it is often used to mean “joined blocks”). Here means “joined rooms” which suggests a building of considerable size. It became associated with places like temples and palaces, and is also used to refer to the nobles associated with palaces.

kanji-a-day:

521/2000

JLPT: N1

School Grade: 5th (10 years old)

This character is a combination of thread and 充 a character meaning “full.” Here 充 is acting phonetically to express “beginning,” giving “the beginning of a thread.” Because the beginning of a thread is the same as its end, 統 came to mean “thread from end to end,” and “lineage” by extension. It was the idea of following a thread from end to end that led to the meanings of “supervise” and “control.”

kanji-a-day:

489/2000

JLPT: N4

School Grade: 3rd (8 years old)

In its modern form, this character is a combination of food/eat and 欠 a character meaning “lack,” which is here being used in its early sense of “gaping mouth.” Though it is written this way now, older forms of the character show that 食 is actually a substitute for 酉 wine jar/alcohol. So, this character originally meant to “gulp down alcohol with a gaping mouth,” though it is now used to mean “drink” in general.

kanji-a-day:

482/2000

JLPT: N2

School Grade: 3rd (8 years old)

This character is a combination of thread and 柬 a Chinese-only character meaning “select.” 柬 is felt to have derived from a combination of 束 a character meaning “bundle” and 八 eight (here meaning “disperse/away), and is also working phonetically to express “soften by boiling.” This gives “soften selected threads by boiling,” a reference to the glossing of raw silk.

*EDITED TO INCLUDE CORRECT STROKE ORDER*

kanji-a-day:

481/2000

JLPT: N3

School Grade: 2nd (7 years old)

This character is a combination of 彦 a non-general use character meaning “handsome” and  a non-general use character that was originally used to mean “head,” but now means “page.” 彦 literally means “attractive forehead,” and the addition of 頁 head reinforces this and gives “attractive face,” one of the earlier meanings. The character has since come to mean “face” in general.

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