Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nihongo: Ten Thousand Things

The character shown is pronounced "man" in Japanese. It means "ten thousand."

In their way of counting, the Japanese (and Chinese) have a ten thousand's unit. "man" is never used alone, it's always used with another number to indicate how many groups of ten thousand. So, 10,000 of something is ichi man ( 一万 ), 20,000 of something is ni man ( 二万 ), and 100,000 of something is juu man ( 十万 ). This can sometimes cause some confusion when translating numbers.

In ancient times, "ten thousand things" referred to a bewilderingly large number. Ichi man no koto. 一万の事。

Cook Ding's Kitchen has just recently had it's 10,000th hit.


Anonymous said...

Awsome on the 10K hit! Congrats :)

ms_lili said...

look at the ideogram and wonder about how it manifests man. either it's someone bending over, back on their heels, or it is a person with a hat, holding out a scroll.

it is my understanding that the 10,000 things was/is(?) also represents all-that-is. now i'm wondering if it means all humans? or perhaps everything in the human world?

i wonder what the symbol is for all in the heavenly world, or all under heaven? 10,000 tian?

ten thousand crossed with ten thousand (the symbol for 100,000) makes sense.

congrats on the 10k hits. 20,000 eyes have looked upon your site ;)

Rick Matz said...

The symbol that it is derived from is associated by it's sound. The symbol itself doesn't seem to have so much significance.

Think: a bewilderingly large number of things.

Zen said...