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, but (a language-learning site based in Tokyo) soon invited me to post my writing there, as well. You'll find links to all 151 Kanji Curiosity posts below.

Kanji Curiosity 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."

Here are the posts, with the last one on top.

  • Kanji Blog Post #151

    Onward: April 30, 2010
    Today I have a mix of news: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I was on the radio again this week, … More

  • Kanji Blog Post #150

    A Murder Mystery and More: Part 3, April 16, 2010
    Today we’ll do things backward. Try your hand at a bevy of quizzes, all involving More

  • Kanji Blog Post #149

    Interspecies Stabbings: Part 2, April 9, 2010
    As we saw last week, (SHI, sa(su), sa(saru), sa(shi), sashi, toge: to stab, pierce, prick, sting; thorn; business card) primarily means “to stab,” so it … More

  • Kanji Blog Post #148

    How to Stick It to Someone: Part 1, April 2, 2010
    Let’s start with a quiz. The kanji primarily means “to stab.” Given that, what … More

  • Kanji Blog Post #147

    Radically Wet: Part 4, March 19, 2010
    Take a look at the following sentence to see if you recognize anything: 政府は過激派グループの活動を注意深く監視した。 Whenever I confront unknown kanji, I try to … More

  • Kanji Blog Post #146

    A Japanese Stimulus Package: Part 3, March 12, 2010
    It’s always exciting when a foreign language teaches you about your own, and that’s the case with the following word … More

  • Kanji Blog Post #145

    Death by Acronym: Part 2, March 5, 2010
    We start with Alberto’s haiku calendar for March. It’s lovely, as always, but there’s one difference this time … More

  • Kanji Blog Post #144

    The Violence of Water: Part 1, February 26, 2010
    If you had to draw “violent,” what images would you use? Maybe you’d think back to … More

  • Kanji Blog Post #143

    Bag of Tricks: Part 3, February 12, 2010
    As you may know, 知恵 (chie: to know + wisdom) is “wisdom” or “intelligence.” And we’ve seen that (TAI, fukuro)More

  • Kanji Blog Post #142

    Your Mother as a Bag: Part 2, February 5, 2010
    We start with Alberto’s haiku calendar for February, another beauty. Wow, this haiku features some complex kanji! Alberto will tell us about the poem in the comments section. Meanwhile, here’s the scoop on the least familiar characters: … More

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