Saturday, February 2, 2008

油 - Oil Splashing Out of a Square Pan

Readings & Meanings:



Common Usage:








Put kerosene into the space heater.

Being overconfidently unprepared, I failed the exam.

Spread the oil over the pan.


I'm going to let my inner anime otaku show through here, but...

Why is this man wearing the kanji 油 on his forehead?

Because he's the 蝦蟇仙人 called Jiraiya in the manga/anime series Naruto! Duh. Quick explanation: Jiraiya in Naruto is a ninja who casts toad spells and summons toads. He's based on a Japanese folktale about a toad wizard. Yeah, a toad wizard.

The relation to 油 is this: a long time ago, people in Japan sold toad oil (蝦蟇油) as quack medicine. Similar to snake oil in America, gama-abura was purported to cure everything.

So the 油 on Jiraiya's forehead signifies his ties to toads. Sweet. Hey, anything for another mnemonic.


Please remember, this kind of あぶら is liquid. Remember it by looking at the water radical on the side. Picture the oil splashing out of the square skillet: .

The other あぶら, 脂, is not as liquid as 油.

Extra Bonus:

Although usually in hiragana, the Japanese word for "soy sauce" is 醤油. However, if you write shouyu (しょうゆ) with kanji instead of hiragana, it'll look like foreigner Japanese for sure. It's far too common in Japanese life to write with kanji, especially with that tough first kanji.


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