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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

Chinese characters, words of Chinese origin and our lifestyle

Tetsuya Ito
1st year student in the Master's Program at the Graduate School of Teacher Education
Tatsunori Kobayashi
2nd year student in the Master's Program at the Graduate School of Teacher Education
Yasuko Harada
2nd year student in the Master's Program at the Graduate School of Teacher Education

Is "食", the Chinese character for "food" or "eat", really a combination of the characters for "person" (人) and "good" (良)?

Chinese characters were created in China and then conveyed to Japan. However, Chinese characters are now part of the Japanese culture which is popular throughout the world. We are surrounded by an enormous amount of Chinese characters and words of Chinese origins, all of which have a major influence on our lifestyle. Through the theme of Chinese characters, this course provides students with the opportunity to study topics language topics such as Chinese classics and Japanese fairy tales and proverbs. Topics studied through the theme of Chinese characters even include history and culture. Furthermore, the contents of lectures span from a comparison of Chinese and Japanese culture to dietary education. Impressions from students enrolled in the class are introduced below.

When I lived abroad, many of my friends asked me if I would teach them Chinese characters. The study of Chinese characters provides insight into the country of Japan. I am an elementary school teacher, so I enrolled in this course with the desire to acquire deep knowledge regarding the instruction of Chinese characters. However, this course exceeds the framework of Chinese characters and words of Chinese origin to encompass a study of the Japanese lifestyle. This course truly enables students to expand their capabilities as a human being.(Tetsuya Ito)

Occasionally acting respectable-commemorative photograph!?

During a lecture regarding the animals of the Chinese zodiac, we studied this year's animal, the tiger. The first Chinese character for tiger (寅) is a combination of two different characters. This character depicts a man extending an arrow straight ahead, and the character is used for the third position in the Chinese zodiac. The character used to depict the tiger itself is "虎". This character is a pictogram modeled after the shape of a tiger. Japanese people normally use both of these characters for tiger without a second thought. However, by studying the folklore, romantic ideas and other aspects which affect the use of these characters, I was able to reach a greater understanding.(Tatsunori Kobayashi)

During a lecture regarding the traditional Japanese system of measurement known as the shakkan method, we discussed the measurement of hadaka ikkan. This measurement states that "the weight of a newborn child is 3,750 grams". Nowadays, there is an increase in the number of infants with a low birth weight. Our instructor questioned the validity of a Japanese proverbs which states that "children should be born small and raised big". Points were also raised regarding insufficient nutrition among pregnant mothers, as well as regarding the relationship between the increase of infants with a low birth weight and the increase of children requiring special educational support. Students discussed their own birth weight and the birth weight of infants close to them, and we all felt that the hadaka ikkan measurement is quite large.(Yasuko Harada)

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)