My good friend Mike Beeson is visiting Japan. He spent a few days here in Saroma, and did his best to read the Chinese “kanji” characters that are used in Japan. Amazingly, while he had no idea what the characters meant, he was able to see them as pictures, and started creating his own meanings, based on what he thought the characters resembled.
I found this perspective refreshing and hilarious. I asked Mike to write down what he thought a kanji should mean, based on what he felt it looked like as a visual representation of meaning. Here is the short “Kanji Guide” that he created. Let your mouse pointer rest over the image to reveal the actual meaning of the character.
What do you think? I’d be curious to see what those of you with little or no knowledge of kanji think, compared to those who do. I am pretty sure I never could have created this, given the connections I have already made for these ideograms.
6 replies on “Mike Beeson’s Fantasy Kanji Guide”
My favorite is “Clown mirror.” I must point out that you only think seeing these kanji as “pictures” is amazing because you’ve been reading Japanese for like 12 years. To everyone who hasn’t done that, they do kinda look like little pictures. I mean, you can say, “No, that’s writing,” but people will just nod and say “Oh, those little pictures are writing, I got it.”
It’s a little funny how none of them looks anything like what you’d guess, though. To me, “spine” looks exactly like a computer desk with a widescreen monitor. I am pretty sure that makes me a nerd.
you forgot butter churn.
Absence of butter churn noted and corrected.
my favorite was clown mirror/matrimony, too! i disagree with snowman though… it’s definitely a robot. or a snowman with a spine.
Good job, Mike & Sean!! A few years older and still amusing. 😀
clown mirror was the funniest name, but I think viking boat was the most appropriate. Are you sure that doesn’t mean viking boat?