Hi my name is Lloyd and I am an English Sensei, and I am also an Kanji expert. I have learned to read over 90 characters in my 27 years in Nagoya and I can actually write over 40 of them by finger on my Rose Gold iPhone 6S Plus with Retina Display®!
What’s my trick? Well I’m glad you asked. I have developed a unique system for interpreting the characters as pictures, and every picture has a story – so I remember the story behind each picture and then I can remember what the kanjis mean!
This is a special technique I call I-Can-Ji – or if you mix English with Nihongo like I do in my everyday conversation
“I Can Letter!” desu.
I use this technique to remember all manner of Kanjis, from basic – but still haado – characters like 1 (一) , to those kanjis you will need to find everyday essentials you purchase in conbinis, like ¥600 bottles of wine (葡萄酒).
This month I have decided to discuss two of the most commonly seen kanjis:
Open 開 and Close 閉
These kanjis are often seen in elevators and the first 1,000 times or so I was unsure of which button to push to make the doors close and shave entire seconds off my elevator journey, or to open the doors and let a pretty oneesan (奥さん) have a wild ride with me.
That’s because at first glance both of these look pretty much the same. If you are like me you probably have been confusing them for 20 years or more. But once I really applied myself to studying Kanjis with I Can Ji then I began to remember the meaning a whopping 83% of the time.
So how does it work? Well lets start with how both look alike. Both kanjis are contained in the kanji for gate (門), just like Akamon (赤門) in Osu or Tiananmen Square (天安門), a fun tourist spot in China. Sure, it doesn’t really look like a gate – but it kinda does. So the first thing to remember is “These kanji look kinda sorta like a gate”. See – even when something doesn’t look like anything – it does if you convince yourself it does. It’s just like those awkward moments in dark bars when you think you are taking home a fish but ended up with a chicken – you know what I mean!!
So we have these things that kinda look like doors. But in the middle we see some things that are different but look like stuff we can actually kinda recognize.
In the case of open, we see the bolt on a gate being raised by a person with both their hands. So this means “open gate”, and if a gate’s open it basically means “come on in”, right? This also applies to unlocked doors and windows.
Now let’s take close (閉). Close is actually my favorite Kanji, because when I am on an elevator I push it before I push the number of the floor I am going to. That’s ‘cause if you close the door immediately you don’t have to wait for anyone else to get on or stop at a floor you aren’t going to. It is a real time saver.
So how do I remember this means “Close?” Actually it is quite simple. See the stick figure between those two things that don’t look like doors but you have decided look like doors to remember what they mean? Well that is a person running to catch the elevator.
See the out-stretched arms flailing away as they wave for you to hold the elevator? That’s the button you push when you want to close the door before they can get on. That button obviously means “Close”
Well that’s all the kanji’s we have time for this month. Mata ne!