NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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2008/8/11


【夢】 Mu, Yume Dream

Jp En

夕 is now regarded as the classifier of 夢. Actually, however, it is strongly related to the institution of the 媚 ‘miko: female shaman.’ As in 蔑, the upper part also shows a female shaman with eyebrow decoration. In antiquity, dreams were regarded as something mystical and thought of as being brought about by female shamans.
夕 points to the form of the moon at night. The early tortoise plastron and bone character has no 夕, but instead a 爿 showing the bedstead. Interestingly, all characters including 爿 are not displayed horizontally, but vertically.
In ancient China, a construction method called 版築 ‘hanchiku: board construction’ using boards existed for making clay walls. 爿 and 片 show such boards. Probably because such a board very much resembles a bedstead, in the early tortoise plastron and bone characters also a vertical 爿 board is contained as an element.
Among the tortoise plastron and bone writings a lot of examples of divination by means of dreams can be seen. The answer always took the form of an ‘auspicious’ - ‘inauspicious’ judgment. Among them a great number asks for the meaning of the appearance of deceased persons in dreams.
As a classic of dream interpretation based on ‘auspicious’ - ‘inauspicious’ judgment, ancient China has produced the 周公釈夢 ‘Zhōu Gōng Shì Mèng: Duke Zhōu’s Explanation of Dreams,’ which later also came to Japan and was widely read in the Edo period.
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【石】 Seki / Ishi Stone

Jp En

Until Shirakawa Kanji science became known, the 口 of 石 was traditionally explained as a piece of stone lying below a cliff. The tortoise plastron and bone characters, however, show that 口 is a sacred receptacle for putting in prayer writings. As was introduced in the explanation of 暦 ‘koyomi: calendar,’ 厂 shows the form of a steep cliff, and cliffs were regarded as places of strong spiritual power and were used for various religious services, worship and rituals. Other characters showing the relation between stones and spiritual power are 宕 and 祏. 宕, which shows a mausoleum, has 石 below 宀 a mausoleum roof. 祏, which means an ancestor tablet, combines the 示 altar classifier with 石. From 石 appearing in characters related to rituals and worship, it may be inferred that stones also functioned as altar.
Not only in antiquity, but also in the present, people with strong spiritual sense warn to take stones away from nature and bring them home as one pleases as spirits can easily dwell in these basic elements of nature. In Japan, especially in shrines, worship of stones can often be seen.
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2008/8/7


【掃】 Sou, Haku to sweep

Jp En

In common with 婦, the basic character of 掃 is 帚. The 扌 hand classifier was only added considerably later. The first form in the tortoise plastron and bone characters is extremely simple; it clearly is just the form of a 箒 ‘hôki: broom.’ As the tortoise plastron and bone characters were created by a group of ancient clerics the cleaning this character originally refers to should be imagined as a sacred act or duty. It was humbly conducted in the mausoleum for worshiping the ancestors. Besides using the broom for sweeping as is done in the present, it was established etiquette to sprinkle well-smelling liquor with the broom for exorcising and purifying the mausoleum. It may be compared to the present burning of incense for the ancestors.
The upper part of the unabbreviated character 帚 shows a hand, and the middle line extending to the right shows the part of the hand including the joint which is especially important when sweeping. In the shortened character form of the Common Use Character, however, nearly only the fingers remain.  帚 also appears in 歸, the older character of 帰 ‘kaeru: return.’ It shows military returning from war at the ritual of reporting at the mausoleum bringing worship meat. At this time, there also was the custom of exorcising and purifying the mausoleum with a broom and liquor.
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2008/8/4


【徳(德)】 Toku, Tadasu Virtue

Jp En

The meaning originally shown by the character 德 originally is not the ethical notion of virtue attributed to it in later times. For its understanding one has to go back to the world of early animism and curse magic.
The character 行 shows a crossroad and 彳. The classifier of 徳 is its left half and means a junction. As place where a lot of people pass, it is an important spiritual place, too. Naturally, accidents occur more frequently there, which is why it becomes an object for the exorcism of evil spirits.
As in the case of 蔑 or 省, the 目 (including the strokes above) which is seen in horizontal position in the right upper part of the character shows curse decoration. 省 means to show military power towards a region or country. Its upper part and the upper right part of 徳 has the common origin of patrolling with eyes that have curse power. What concerns the character 徳, from containing the element 彳 the objects of patrol conducted by eyes with curse decoration are the evil spirits at crossroads and junctions; it shows them being exorcised and ‘tadasu: put right’ again.
Previous character forms are often close to that of antiquity. Here, 徳, the form of the Common Use Characters since 1948 has one stroke less than its previous form 德 and is a form close to that of the bronze inscriptions.
Later, 心 was added to the character form for the first time on the bronze vessel 大盂鼎 ‘Dà Yú Dĭng: Big Tripod (made by) Yú’ in a long inscription amounting to 290 characters from the early period of the Western Zhōu dynasty, directly after the Yīn (Shāng)-Zhōu revolution. From this t