Japanese character challenges, December 2016

In Japanese by Jeremy Arns

In a way, learning characters is easy. When you know roughly how characters work and how they are composed, learning a new character is not hard. The difficulty comes from the large number of steps you have to take, not the difficulty of each individual step.

However, relating characters to each other is also part of the challenge. How are they similar? How are they different?

The challenges in this article are meant to help you practice that by solving tricky character puzzles. The answers are posted at the very end of the article, but don’t peek unless you have really tried to solve the challenges on your own. Also note that while we only provide one answer here, some challenges could have more than one right answer.

Some challenges are different from others:

  • Fill the blank challenges: Here you see a sentence with parts of it stripped away, and you fill in the missing portions. For example: 図書館に行って_を読んだ, where the answer would be “本”.
  • Ateji challenges: Here the characters form a logical sentence or expression when all read with a specific correct reading. For example: 茶連時市用!, where the answer would be “チャレンジしよう!”. (Katakana may be used in the challenge as a free reading).
  • Which character doesn’t belong challenges: Here there will be a group of characters, but one of them doesn’t belong for a certain reason. For example: 旧、扱、急、琉、球, where the answer would be “琉”, (because it’s the only kanji which can’t be read as きゅう).

Without further ado, let’s get on with this month’s Japanese challenges!

Japanese character challenges for December 2016

  • Ateji challenge:ムカ氏無化私、亜留床炉似、御時イ三都尾馬阿山画酢ン出今下。
  • Which character doesn’t belong: 禅、仏、悟、僧、増
  • Fill in the blanks: _よりも__語_上手く___ね。
  • Which character doesn’t belong: 氷、冷、永、寒、霜

Click here to reveal challenge answers

  1. 昔々、あるところに、お爺さんとお婆さんが住んでいました。(ムカ氏(し)無(む)化(か)私(し)、亜(あ)留(る)床(とこ)炉(炉)似(に)、御(お)時(じ)イ三(さん)都(と)尾(お)馬(ば)阿(あ)山(さん)画(が)酢(す)ン出(で)今(いま)下(した))
  2. (Only kanji which isn’t directly related to the concept of Buddhism)
  3. 前・日本・が・なった (前よりも日本語が上手くなったね)
  4. (Only kanji which isn’t directly related to the concept of cold temperature).  


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