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Kanji for Oni – Eight things you should know

Kanji for Oni – Eight things you should know

Generally, “Oni” is considered a kind of Japanese monster or troll that appears in Japanese folklore and folk religion.

Since they are horrifying, “Oni” is also used as a word to describe that something is “strong,” “cruel,” “scary,” “intense,” or “big”.

Let’s see what “Oni” looks like, how it appears in a Japanese annual event, and how the Kanji is used in the language.

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Kanji for “Oni”

  • Pronounce - OnyomiWhat is Onyomi?
    Reading based on old Chinese pronunciation.
  • Pronounce - KunyomiWhat is Kunyomi?
    Reading based on Japanese to express the meaning of kanji.
    There are some Kanji characters that need to be fed, such as “嬉しい”.
  • Strokes What is Strokes?
    The stroke order is the order of writing kanji.
    Created with the aim of unifying the stroke order as much as possible so as not to cause confusion in learning instruction.
  • Radical What is Radical?
    Radical is a part of a kanji used to classify kanji.
    In radical classification, at least one radical is assigned to all Kanji characters.

Meanings of 鬼

  1. Sprit of a deceased person
  2. A monster or troll in Japanese folklore
  3. Being cruel
  4. Being bold and inhumane
  5. Being keen about something with an obsession
  6. “It” in tag* and hide-and-seek, etc.
    * “Tag” is called 鬼ごっこ 鬼ごっこ(Onigokko) in Japanese. The word ごっこ is used for pretend .

The origin of the character

It is a pictogram of a man with a grotesque head and stands for the dead’s soul.

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The typical image of Japanese “Oni”

To put it very simple, they look like this:

They have horns, usually one or two, and often have sharp fangs. The color of their skins is often drawn in red, blue, or green. They wear nothing except underpants of tiger fur. They have superhuman strength, and are bold and inhumane, and considered horrifying. They often have studded metal rod in their .

As an actual example of how “Oni” appears in Japanese stories, let’s take a look at a mega-hit comic Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba), in which the characters fight a fierce battle against “Oni.

“Oni” in Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba)

Kimetsu no yaiba

Image by: Kimetsu no yaiba comic 1 © Koyoharu Gotouge, SHUEISHA Inc

Demon Slayer is a comic that made a huge craze written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotōge. Kimetsu no Yaiba is written as 鬼滅の刃 鬼滅の刃 in Japanese. 鬼 means Oni, 滅 means to overthrow, and 刃 stands for a sword.

In this comic, “Oni” has different characteristics compared to the traditional image.

“Oni” characters wear clothes like ordinary humans and don’t necessarily have horns. They eat humans, and the more they eat, the stronger they get. They never get old, and even if they lose a part of their body, that part regenerates. They never die unless getting sunlight or being cut their necks by swords made specially to kill them.

Since the characters have to face so many hardships, some Japanese fans say, “The author is the most inhumane 鬼 in this comic.”

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Using “Oni” for a person

The word “Oni” is often used for describing people’s characteristics.

If you say 「あの人は仕事の鬼だ」あの人は仕事の鬼だ(Ano hito wa shigoto no oni da), literally meaning “That person is an Oni for work,” it means that person is very keen and obsessed with work.

It could also describe a person who is very strict and inhumane.

For example, there are some words as 「鬼上司」 鬼上司(Oni jōshi, such as Oni boss), and「鬼コーチ」 鬼コーチ(Oni coach).

If you say 「鬼嫁」 鬼嫁(Oni yome), it means that the woman has no mercy to her husband.

“Oni” in Japanese annual event 節分(Setsubun)

節分 節分(Setsubun) is the day before the beginning of spring in the lunar calendar. Spring regarded as a new year, nowadays Japanese call February 2, 3, or 4(it depends on the year) as Setsubun.

On that day, people, especially children, throw beans in their houses, or at events in shrines or temples, saying 「鬼は外、福は内」鬼は外、福は内(Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi). This phrase means “Go away Oni (symbol of bad things in this context), come in happiness and luck.”

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Proverbs and idioms with – learning Japanese!

Since 鬼 is considered a strong, inhumane creature, there are some proverbs and idioms using the word.

鬼に金棒 (Oni ni kanabō) 鬼に金棒

金棒 is a studded metal rod just as shown in the illustration above. 金 stands for metal (it also means “gold,” but it is not the case for this word), and 棒 means rod or stick. Oni itself is already strong, but with a weapon, they are even stronger. Therefore, 鬼に金棒 implies that a person or a group that is already strong gets stronger by getting something new.

(Kyonen no yūshō chīmu ni ōmono no shinjin senshu ga nyūdan suru koto ni natta. Masani oni ni kanabō da.)

This means “A big-name rookie is joining the team that won the championship last year—the more Moors, the better victory.”

鬼の目にも涙 (Oni no me nimo namida) 鬼の目にも涙

This phrase literally means “even Oni get tears in their eyes.” It means that even a person who seem to be merciless sometimes have sympathy or pity.

鬼の居ぬ間に(命の)洗濯 (Oni no inu ma ni (inochi no) sentaku) 鬼の居ぬ間に命の洗濯

This phrase literally means “washing one’s life while Oni is away.” It means “to relax and do whatever you want while someone you feel uneasy is not around you.”

So, did you get some images about Japanese “Oni”?

They are quite familiar to Japanese people, and “Oni” is a handy word to describe that someone is inhumane.