木 - Meaning and history | Japanese Kanji

JLPT N54 strokes
treewood

Kun readings 🇯🇵

こ-

On readings 🇨🇳

ぼくもく

The kanji () has the meaning of tree as a woody plant and also represents the material it produces: wood.

treewood
Origin of the kanji 木, from the pictogram or drawing that originally represented it

The planet dedicated to the wood element is Jupiter and is written (もく)(せい) and the day of the week (もく)(よう)() Thursday.

()」は
(えい)()
では
「tree」
()います。

Ki is tree in English.

Tree, wood and forest

It is interesting to look at two other kanji formed using 木:

  • (はやし) two trees we have the wood
  • (もり) three trees instead form the forest

These two terms are often interchangeable, sometimes we find (はやし) which is translated forest as in the case of:

  • アマゾン (ねっ)(たい)()(りん): the Amazonian tropical rainforest in Brazil
  • トンガス (こく)(ゆう)(りん) Tongass National Forest in Alaska

Types of trees and plants

We find () as radical, the keyword of the kanji, in many types of trees such as:

  • (すぎ) the Japanese cedar
  • (まつ) the pine
  • (かば)() the birch
  • (ひのき) the Japanese cypress
vinary
ブドウの木, the vine
  • (さくら)() the cherry
  • (にわ)() the garden plants (庭)
  • (うえ)() the garden plants and potted plants
peachtree
桃の木, peach tree
()
()える
(ほう)(ほう)

How to plant a tree.

  • (うえ)()() is the gardener, the nurseryman
  • () is the root of the plant

Wooden material

If we want an object or product made of wood, the term is (もく)(せい) wooden, as an adjective: (せい) indicates the manufacture, is also used to translate Made in ... as in 日本(にほん)(せい), made in Japan.

  • (もく)(せい)()() a wooden piece of furniture
  • (もく)(せい)(ひん) a wooden object
  • (もく)(せい)玩具(おもちゃ) a wooden toy
(もく)(ざい) is the noun for wood as a material.
(もく)(ざい)
(しゅ)(るい)
(とく)(ちょう)

Types of wood and characteristics

woodenstructure
To indicate a wooden construction in Japanese we use the term 木造住宅

Roppongi, Tokyo district

The name of the well-known commercial district and location of various Tokyo attractions (ろっ)(ぽん)() Roppongi, means 6trees:

  • (ろく) the number six
  • (ほん) the numeral suffix for long objects
  • () trees

The curious name given to the district according to tradition derives from the presence of six trees that marked the area and according to another version the name derives from six daimyo gentlemen who lived there and had a name containing the element ().

Roppongihills
六本木ヒールズ, Roppongi Hills

() in Japanese names and surnames

  • (あお)() Aoki surname
  • (もと)() Motoki surname
  • ()(むら) Kimura surname
  • ()()() Akiko female name
  • ()()() Nagisa feminine name
  • ()()() Akio male name
tree
樹, tree

There are other kanji to indicate the tree:

  • () reads ki as ()
  • (じゅ)(もく) which reads jumoku

The firewood is (たきぎ), the kanji is read まき or たきぎ with the same meaning.

Someone may have wondered: what do you say Christmas tree?

The Christmas tree is translated and transcribed in katakana クリスマスツリー, from the English Christmas tree.

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