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Written by Kamo no Chōmei 鴨長明, a snubbed aristocrat, in the early 13th c., Hōjōki 方丈(often translated as Record of a Ten Foot Square Hut since a hōjō is roughly 10 sq. ft.) occupies a revered place on the NKBZ shelf, and rightly so, because it is fantastic, as I hope to demonstrate below. Let us examine the original and attempt a translation of the first (行く河) section. I have mostly followed the NKBZ.


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I’m in love. I just discovered my new favorite kanji. The simplicity, the straightforwardness, the sheer pictorial common sense beats those unconvincing explanations about how 目 really does look like an eye, 日 like the sun, and 木 like a tree, and 女 like a woman (ok, they may be on to something with the last one). And this miracle kanji is kannuki (かんぬき), meaning a “bolt” or “latch” (Also refers to a 2-on-1 wrist-hold technique in some martial arts).  Brilliant.

==> 閂

See the resemblance?