Originally Posted on July 31, 2016
Re-Posted on July 16, 2017
July 17th is 海の日, meaning Marine Day or Sea Day, in Japan.
I learned from Wikipedia that it’s “a Japanese national holiday celebrated on the third Monday in July. The purpose of the holiday is to give thanks for the ocean’s bounty and to consider the importance of the ocean to Japan as an island nation. Many people take advantage of the holiday and summer weather to take a beach trip. Other ocean-related festivities are observed as well.”
海の日 can be translated as 海之日 (hǎi zhī rì) in Chinese. The Japanese の often directly corresponds to the Chinese 之, similar to “-’s” in English.
海 (hǎi) is sea or ocean. 日 (rì, pronounced like rr or ree) is day. So 海の日 or 海之日 is literally Ocean’s Day.
海 consists of the water radical 氵and the character 每 (měi), meaning every or each. You can remember it by imagining water from each and every river flowing into a place and forming a sea.
The radical form of water (水, shuǐ) is 氵. Just picture 3 drops of water. You can also picture 水 as 3 vertical wavy water lines flowing down.
The character 每 consists of 母 (mǔ), meaning mother. The mother character 母 looks like stylized breasts with two dots representing nipples. This may be a stretch and I hope it doesn’t sound bad: to remember it, you could associate a milk cow’s moo sound with the Mandarin pronunciation of 母 (mǔ).
The top of 每 looks somewhat similar to 人 (rén), meaning people. And we know every (每 means every) person (人 means person) has a mother (母 means mother).
A character that looks like 母 (mǔ) and shouldn’t be confused with it is 毋 (wú), meaning no or not. Instead of two dots as nipples, it has one long line. Imagine it is a piece of cloth covering the nipples signifying that they are NOT to be seen or touched.
To make sure you don’t forget it, let me show you a Chinese term that means not to forget: 毋忘 (wú wàng). As you just learned, 毋 means not or no. A new character here, 忘, means forget. It’s easy to remember this character because 忘 consists of 亡 (wáng), meaning die or perish, and 心 (xīn, pronounced sheen), meaning heart. So dying or perishing from the heart is to forget. And 忘 (wàng) takes the sound of 亡 (wáng). 亡 (wáng) is in the second tone and 忘 (wàng) is in the fourth tone.
If you add a mouth (口) to 海 (hǎi) you get 嗨 (hāi), a character that sounds similar to 海 (hǎi) and is used to represent the sound of Hi. People often ask me, “How to say Hi in Chinese?” I reply, “嗨 (hāi)!”
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