We’re on the final part of the three-stroke core-kanji stretch… Only three totally new kanji show up in this lesson (inch 寸, ‘of’ 之 and ‘long time’ 久), and everything else will consist of combinations of elements you already know.
寸 inch (glue)
This kanji has an interesting etymology. According to Wiktionary, it started as a picture of a position on the forearm where the pulse can be palpated by compressing the radial artery. Its meaning of “a unit of measurement” is derived from the distance between the wrist and this position (about 3cm), and “inch” is a Westernisation of the ancient unit. It’s almost possible to see it as a hand (the T shape) with a mark showing the site of the pulse.
When used as a primitive element within other kanji, it is considered by some to adopt the meaning “glue”, and it with some imagination it can be seen as a glue brush dripping glue. (The horizontal line is the lid of the glue bottle, with the vertical making the brush.)
#257. When a person adheres to a task, it means they stick to it like glue.
#258. Picture some monks so devoted to the temple that they glue themselves to the soil floor.
#259. Take a bunch of trees, glue the logs together, and voila, you have a town!
#260. When you specialise, you take one thing (一), and then you devote all your effort and reason (由) to it as if you are stuck to it like glue (寸).
#261. Seal as in – seal the envelope, not as in the furry swimmers.
Picture a caveman sending a primitive letter wrapped up in ivy (the double-soil primitive) which has been fashioned into a very rough envelope using glue.
Consistent with this, note that the kanji features in the compound “封筒” (ふうとう), meaning “envelope”, one of the words recommended in the beginner vocab list.
#262. The monks at the temple live a primitive life, with no laptops, Android devices, or digital watches. Nonetheless, they have no trouble telling the time from observing the position of the sun (日) on the temple (寺) wall.
#263. Just picture shooting somebody (身) with a glue (寸) gun.
#264. Let’s face it, the keyword for this kanji is lame… And difficult to work into a mnemonic image. Some students have tried to spice it up by seeing the shape of this kanji as a Z, and imagining it is the Z of Zorro. He can be envisaged as having a hat, a cloak drawn diagonally across his body, and a sword at his side.
Wiktionary has this to say: “Formerly used to represent the possessive particle の (no). In modern Japanese, this character is seldom used, and most commonly found in names, such as 龍之介 (Ryūnosuke).”
So, not a very useful kanji. It appears relatively early in the KSP list because it is a simple, 3-stroke core kanji.
#265. This kanji is basically the same as ‘of’ (之) but with an extra line at the top. Picture Zorro leading a life of destitution, grateful if he has so uch as a ceiling over his head.
久 long time
#266. A core kanji, but not one that leads to many new kanji – for now, there are no other kanji you can make from this one. Nonetheless, it is a common kanji, used to mean “long time” as in,it’s been a long time since I saw you.
It could be remembered as a pictograph of a person bowing as they say, “Long time, no see!”
Or you could recognise it as a deformed version of ‘evening’ (夕). Perhaps, after a long time, one of the strokes of ‘evening’ has slipped downwards?