Ojousama: the Aristocratic Young Lady and Her Kanji

Ojousama: a complex character but fine when you get to know her
Ojousama: a complex character but fine when you get to know her

A lot of people consider Ojousama to be a complicated character, and if you look at her portrait to the right you can see why.

The central part of お嬢さま ojousama is 嬢 jou (the rest is simply honorific o and sama, of course).

It is one of the more complicated kanji. Its right-hand section consists of 六 six, 井 well and the regular truncated form of 衣 clothes.

(If you want to know why a well looks like 井 you may want to go to this post on the forums.)

The right section together means “soft” and is a bit obscure. So we are going to associate it with ojousama herself:

ojousama-by-the-wellOjousama is a young 女 lady in beautiful 衣 clothing who comes upon 六 six 井 wells.

If we remember this little story we can remember Ojousama and we can use her to remember the other kanji in which her right-hand element appears. The most important of these is 譲 which we find in 譲る yuzuru which means to hand over or yield.

譲 is the Ojousama kanji with a word 言 as its left, type-defining radical, instead of a 女 girl. When Ojousama 言 speaks in her gentle voice, people hand over anything she wants. It is love, not usury (sound-mnemonic).

Another word with the Ojousama kanji is 醸 which means “brew” both literally (brewing wine or beer) and figuratively, (to cause or bring about, as in English “brew trouble”). This is the Ojousama right hand with 酒 sake, alcohol (without its own left liquid-definer) its left, type-defining, radical.

In the old days, brewing wasn’t done in factories but was a woman’s job. Ojousama is a fine lady and one of her activities is brewing fine sake.

There are other kanji with Ojousama’s right-hand side. We don’t need to learn them all now. In fact we don’t need to learn any of them now unless we want to. We can just learn Ojousama, and pick up the others as we come to them (譲る yuzuru is a particularly useful one).

This is a good example of how using the organic method of learning kanji, we often take the first or most striking or picturesque word that we come across using a particular kanji sub-section and then use that to remember other words with the same sub-section.

Six wells? Don’t magical things come in sevens? Actually Ojousama herself is the seventh 井 well, because she is so well-衣 dressed.