Vocab of the day [1]

Since every language learning blog has it my blog will get one, too. A vocabulary of the day section. Since I’m learning vocabulary, or 単語 in Japanese, what could be better than to teach you these words as well, dear Reader? This is why I will post one word every day, and write something about the background, or a picture. Something that best describes the words and helps to understand it. Since i’ve already lost enough words to the introduction of this new section, let me inaugurate it with the first word of the day.

南無妙法蓮華経 [なむみょうれんげきょう] Glory to the Sutra, Hail to the Sutra

This is a chant of the 天台宗 [てんだいしゅう] Tendai and 日蓮正宗 [にちれんしょうしゅう] Nichiren sects of 仏教 [ぶっきょう] Buddhism. The 天台 were founded by T’ien-t’ai Chih-i, who built a framework for this school of Chinese Buddhism. The monk 鑑眞 Jianzhen brought it to Japan, from were it was spread by the monk 最澄 [さいちょう] Saichô, who brought new Tiantai texts he brought back from China, and made the temple he had built the centre for the study of 天台. This sect taught many elements from 禅 [ぜん] Zen and 密教 [みっきょう] Mikkyô, not only Tiantai from China. 日蓮 was the founding father of this sect born in 1222. The teaching of 日蓮 was the devotion to the 妙法蓮華経 [みょうほうれんげきょう] Lotus Sutra as the exclusive way to reach enlightenment. The chanting of 南無妙法蓮華經 was the essential practice of this school. For both schools the 法華 [ほっけ] Lotus Sutra was very important in their teachings. The 天台 saw this Sutra as the ultimate expression of 法 [ほう] Dharma.

If you want to know more about the history of both sects and the Lotus Sutra, please visit the following websites.

[JP] Lotus Sutra
[E] Wikipedia 日蓮正宗
[E] Tendai 天台宗

2 responses to “Vocab of the day [1]

  1. Hey, Nagareboshi!

    I just want to be honest, but learning words in their kanji form like 南無妙法蓮華経 is in my opinion of absolutely no usage. These words rarely appear and unless you have a strong interest in religion, or even more specified, tantra, sutras and buddhism, it’s lost time learning them. (I haven’t read your long post completely, though, so perhaps I missed an aim!)
    I am not sure how many single kanji on and kun readings you know, respectively, but words like 南無妙法蓮華経 are perhaps needed for the JLPT1, perhaps even not (what I can imagine pretty well).
    But I will leave it just to you:) This method seems a bit off and having looked through the first half or so of Kanji in Context’s reference book, I don’t have to worry all that much about vocabulary I do not know: just 2-4 words per double page I would need to “guess”. Seriously, listening needs a lot of time and exercise over here, whereas vocabulary has boosted up to almost 6000~

    Good luck,

  2. Hello Tori,

    This word is part of the vocabulary introduced in Kanji in Context. This book really teaches all the words for the old JLPT level 1. JLPT aside, it contains lots of words, and some are more common than others. Even rare words can be good to know, inviting you to find out more about them, and gain an interest in things you previously didn’t have.

    I learn every word from every Kanji no matter if they are rare or not. When during a review a word comes up marked as rare, and i cannot remember what it means or how to read it, the card will not be rated as hard as one containing a common word. The method seems to work fine so far. I also enjoy doing it which is a good sign that i will keep at it.

    The purpose of this section of my blog is just to introduce words to my readers. This can be any word, 黒板 or 白夜 or even 北風 for which i know a beautiful story.

    One word of advice before i get back to my book. Don’t try to judge methods, without trying them out by yourself. It is incredibly hard to tell which method works, since there are so many, and this one just seems to work for me. 🙂


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