Friday, May 23, 2008

機 - A Very Complicated and Sharp MACHINE

Readings & Meanings:


machine, occasion

Common Usage:











"The Crane's Return of a Favor" is a story about a crane who wove out of its own feathers a handmade cloth on a loom.

We saw an old-fashioned weaver's loom in the museum.

I was saved in the nick of time (by a hair's breadth).

We also call vending machines "自販機" for short.


As in 械, the radical is 木, because the first machines were wooden.

幾 is the phonetic. 幺 is here twice on top; as it means "fine thread," this lends the idea of fine, minute, slight. 戈, a halberd, slices toward a 人. This originally meant "almost," as in the 人 was almost divided. It came to mean "how much" or "some."

In 機, this comes together as a wooden machine that has intricate, "minute" parts that come into repeated contact.

Bonus: 機織り機

If you're having trouble picturing a complicated, intricate wooden machine, take a look at this 機織り機 that I saw in Fukuoka.

The 機織り was very friendly and talkative. He told us that he is one of the few remaining traditionalist weavers in Japan. So rare and so time-consuming are the products of his trade (kimono obi, etc.) that nobody can pay for it in his area. They can only be sold in the expensive stores in Tokyo, or by special order.


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