水 - Meaning and history | Japanese Kanji

JLPT N54 strokes
watercold water

Kun readings 🇯🇵

みずみず-

On readings 🇨🇳

すい

The kanji (みず) which represents the water originates in its pictogram, that is, in the design that represents the element to which it refers. The pictograms are one of the first forms of writing and from their evolution the ideograms were born, in Japanese (かん)().

In the image we see a river, the idea that water expresses is that of continuous flowing.

water
Idea from which the water kanji originated, 水

Onsen and public baths in Japan

(みず) indicates water as a natural element and specifically refers to cold water.

The hot water has its own specific kanji (): the water element appears in the radical 氵.

氵 this sign represents the water element 水 as a radical present in various kanji
()
(あたた)めた
(みず)です。

Yu stands for heated water.

japaneseonsen
湯, ゆ public (thermal) bath

As you explore Japan you may find these structures on whose sign, often a tent (noren), there is the kana ゆ, that is the reading of ().

These are public toilets aimed at personal hygiene by paying an entrance fee. Depending on the location you can find thermal water like onsen or regular water from the local water system.

  • (せん)(とう) is another term for this type of public bathroom

The Japanese baths or thermal baths are internationally known by the original Japanese name onsen (おん)(せん).

The word is made up of the two kanji:

  • (おん) is adjective (ぬく)hot and verb (あたた)める reheat
  • (せん) is the source, the fountain and singularly the kanji is read いずみ
ureshinoonsen
嬉野温泉, the Ureshino baths in the prefecture of Saga in Kyushu

We also find this element in the days of the week, on Wednesday (すい)(よう)() and the planet dedicated to this element is (すい)(せい) Mercury.

Water and chemistry

If you find (すい)(ぶん) on the label of a food or drink, it refers to the water content present.

water
食品表示ラベル, label of a food product

As you can see in the label applied to a Japanese food product, we have the table (ひょう) of the nutritional (えい)(よう) components (せい)(ぶん) and the element that interests us connected to water, is the:

  • (たん)(すい)()(ぶつ) carbohydrate; (すみ) is coal
  • (すい)(よう)(せい) is the water solubility, ()ける is a verb which means to melt, dissolve and (せい) indicates the nature of a person and the characteristic of a thing

If we want to order sparkling water at the bar or restaurant, ask for (たん)(さん)(すい) or from the English sparkling water スパークリングウォーター.

If instead we prefer natural water we order (てん)(ぜん)(すい) or ナチュラルミネラルウォーター from natural mineral water.

sparklingwater
The pleasant (効果) effects (嬉しい) of sparkling water (炭酸水)
crystalbook
水晶の本, the Book of Crystals
  • (すい)(しょう) the rock crystal

Water and environment

In nature we find:

  • the rainwater ()(すい) which can also be read あまみず
  • and the groundwater from the soil ()()(すい)

In Japan we have:

  • the ()()() the beautiful Lake Biwa in the area of ​​Kyoto, Shiga prefecture

In Italy**:

  • the マッジョーレ () Lake Maggiore

In Canada:

  • グレートベア () Great Bear Lake
アメリカ五大湖, the 5 great American lakes
japanesesea
海, the sea
  • 日本(にほん)(かい) The Sea of ​​Japan
  • アドリア (かい) the Adriatic Sea
  • カリブ (かい) the Sea of ​​Caraibi

Waterfalls and fountains

  • 滝 the waterfall; very interesting kanji, because it associates the water element with the mythological creature of the dragon 竜 which nin Japanese and Chinese tradition is connected to water.
The ideograms are splendid miniatures where each part has its own identity, a single meaning, but united they give life to the painting as a whole.
iguasufalls
イグアスの滝, the Iguasu falls between Argentina and Brazil
  • 泉 the fountain, in this kanji as you see the water element appears as we know it 水
trevifountain
とレヴィの泉, the Trevi Fountain in Rome

Water in the kitchen and at the bar

(みず)
()る。

Drain the water.

(みず)
(あたた)める。

Heat the water.

(みず)
(つい)()する。

Add water.

  • (しお)(みず) water and salt
japanesemizuwari
水割り, Japanese alcoholic drink

Those who love alcoholic beverages will experience and perhaps appreciate in Japan (みず)()mizuwari which literally means cutting, mixing with water. It is a popular way of drinking alcohol in Japan; generally about two parts of cold water are mixed with one part of liqueur and ice.

In restaurants in Japan, (こおり)(みず), water with ice (氷), is offered as a service.

(みず)
(いただ)けますか。

Can I have a glass of water, please?

Sports and Hobbies

  • (すい)(えい) is the word that indicates swimming as a sporting activity; the second kanji represents the verb (およ)
beachwears
水着, the swimwear

The word that translates the swimsuit is (みず)() and the second kanji represents the verb ()る, to wear.

Japanese surnames containing 水

  • (みず)() Mizuta surname
  • (みず)(ぐち) Mizuguchi surname
  • ()(みず) Shimizu surname
  • (みず)(たに) Mizutani surname
  • 泉水(いずみ) Izumi, feminine name
  • 水咲(みさき) Misaki, feminine name
  • (すい)(れん) Suiren, male name

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