Kanji Tip 1 – 人間 (human)

Today I’m making the first post in the Kanji Section!!  \(^O^)/

As you can see from the title of this post, this section won’t be meant to do actual “lessons”, but yes to give some tips about some interesting features of Japanese Kanji.

I will be starting with the following two kanji:

人間 (にんげん, ningen) means “human being”. But wait! If you have some knowledge about Japanese kanji already, you can directly see that the first kanji (人, ひと, hito) means person! So, what exactly is the second kanji doing there?

Well, let me explain. The second kanji (間, あいだ, aida) means “space”, “interval”. So the meaning we can take from this combination is that people are meant to be together! There is only humanity when there is relation between people. People are meant to live in community, so if there is not that “space” among people, it’s not possible to live!

We can also think about the kanji 仲間 (なかま, nakama), which means “friend”, “companion”. The 間 is the same! In this case we have 仲 (なか, naka), which has a direct meaning of “relation”. So it’s a “space” for relationships. If there is no “space” (if it’s only one person), how can there be relationship? It can’t!

People are meant to support each other (which may be why if we look at the 人 kanji manually written above, it looks like the right stroke is supporting the left one), and to leave in harmony among themselves! That’s the spirit of 和 (わ, wa), the Japanese thinking pattern (mentioned in yesterday’s video!).

This is actually an explanation that was given to me by two Japanese people whom I met in last weekend’s festival. It is very interesting.

And that’s all for this tip! I’m going to research about more kanji, and I’ll bring news soon!


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