Get Ready to Fall in Love with Kanji!

I'm a freelance writer in Berkeley, California, and I've been fascinated by kanji ever since I started learning the characters in fall 2002.

I've written about my passion for kanji here. I explained my attraction in a different way in "The Way of Kanji," an essay published in the East Bay Monthly. I've spoken about it on the NBC talk show Asian Pacific America, on the Japanese reality show「ニッポンへ行きたい!」, and on the PRI radio program "The World in Words." I also guest-blogged about my kanji passion for the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative as part of a series of blogs about Japanese literature in translation.

Aside from that, my kanji writing has taken three major forms, as shown below.

Joy o' Kanji: A Lifelong Project

This project started in 2010 and will last a lifetime. I am writing one essay about each of the 2,136 Joyo kanji, the characters needed for basic literacy in Japan. At Joy o' Kanji, you'll find essays to download for very low fees. You'll also find plenty of free material to enjoy, all celebrating kanji!

Crazy for Kanji: A Book

Crazy for Kanji: A Student's Guide to the Wonderful World of Japanese Characters came out in 2009 and is available for purchase on Amazon. You can buy autographed copies from me on Kanji Kaimono, the merchandise part of Joy o' Kanji. There's a lot more information about Crazy for Kanji here.

Kanji Curiosity: A Blog

From 2007 through 2010, I wrote weekly blog posts about kanji. I started blogging about kanji on this very site. (a language-learning site based in Tokyo) soon invited me to post my writing there, as well. I called my blog Kanji Curiosity. That writing got a rave in the Japan Times! In an October 2007 column, Mary Sisk Noguchi said, "Kanji lover Eve Kushner provides an informative and entertaining take on the intriguing logic of kanji compounds in her weekly blog, Kanji Curiosity." The six original posts are below, and the rest are on

  • Kanji Blog Post #6

    Tell-Tale Tails, May 22, 2007
    When a reader suggested that I investigate the “tail” kanji, I immediately hopped to it. After all, whether they’re curling around branches, wagging hard with excitement, or being fluffed up squirrel-style, tails are among the best features of the animal world….

  • Kanji Blog Post #5

    Word of Mouth, May 15, 2007
    I recently learned that there are no circles in kanji characters (something I’d never considered!). Any round object becomes square in pictographs. Now I see why the mouth kanji …

  • Kanji Blog Post #4

    You Ain’t Nothing But an Insect, Cryin’ All the Time, May 8, 2007
    When a Japanese friend and I discussed risk taking, she kept calling herself a “chicken” (displaying impressive, colloquial English). I wanted to reassure her that I sometimes feel the same way. Wondering if …

  • Kanji Blog Post #3

    Of the Same Mind, May 1, 2007
    While emailing a Japanese friend about my latest experiments with alternative medicine, I looked up “homeopathy” in the dictionary. Along with the loanword homeopashii, I found …

  • Kanji Blog Post #2

    Financial Flexibility, April 24, 2007
    The other day, I surprised myself by writing in my journal that because of my uncle’s illness, my aunt must be “taxed and spent.” I meant to allude …

  • Kanji Blog Post #1

    Neck and Neck, April 17, 2007
    Do Japanese people regard the nose of an airplane as its neck?! I initially thought so when I examined the kanji for …

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