Kanji learning for coprophiliacs

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Missed this earlier in the year:

"Poop-Themed Kanji Study Book a Bestseller in Japan" nippon.com (4/21/17)

Not only is there one book utilizing the theme of excrement to stimulate interest in kanji, there's a whole graded series of texts, and they're selling like hotcakes (pardon me).

It doesn't hurt that there's a general fascination with feces in Japan that has been enshrined in the "Pile of Poo" emoji:  💩

Here's the entry on this beaming, brown icon from Emojipedia:

A pile of poo that is shaped like a soft-serve ice cream. Brown in color with a friendly smile in most versions of this emoji.

Previously shown as a more literal pile of poo (with flies circling above it) on Android 5.0.

Pile of Poo was approved as part of Unicode 6.0 in 2010 and added to Emoji 1.0 in 2015.

Also Known As

  • 💩 Dog Dirt
  • 💩 Smiling Poop

Here is the first section of the nippon.com article:

The Poop-Kanji Connection

Japan’s latest publishing sensation is a godsend for parents fretting over how to get their children focused on learning kanji. Unko kanji doriru (Poop Kanji Drills) applies a mountain of excrement to the problem with over 3,000 example sentences featuring the word unko (poop). The elementary school student’s fascination with the smelly theme has propelled the six-book series (one for each elementary grade) to the top six places in Amazon Japan’s Japanese language learning chart.

Leaving aside their obsession with the brown stuff, the books follow a standard pattern, covering all of the more than 1,000 characters studied at elementary school. The kanji are arranged in an order created by learning specialists, grouped thematically for more effective memorization. Each character has a presentation of its stroke order and sentences that highlight the different readings. There are also tips along the way from the helpful Unko-sensei. The character’s head forms the distinctive whirled shape associated with poop in Japan, which has been popularized worldwide via emoji.

Some of the example sentences remain confined to the smallest room. “No matter how many times I flushed, my poop wouldn’t flush away” (ぼくのうんこは回 流しても流れなかった) (in the entry for the character 何, second grade). Others are more unlikely: “This is the national treasure woodblock print Fuji and Poop and a Crane” (こちらが国宝の画 「富士とうんことつる」です) (版, fifth grade). And some are surreal: “A German doctor of engineering invented a machine that can talk to poop” (ドイツの工学士が、うんこと話せる機械を発明した) (博, fourth grade).

Previous posts on poop

"Scoop the poop" (4/15/15)

"No shitting here" (9/19/15)

"'SHAM POO' and 'SHOWER POO'" (6/12/16)

"'Poop'" (2/18/17) — the nickname of a Japanese model

[h.t. Nikita Kuzmin]


  1. Chris Button said,

    November 20, 2017 @ 9:01 pm

    I suppose it's quite ironic that うんこ "unko" (apparently onomatopoeic) has no kanji and that 糞 "kuso" is not included in the Jōyō kanji list. Nonetheless, it sounds like a great idea – what kid wouldn't love this?

  2. David said,

    November 22, 2017 @ 12:44 pm

    Kids? I’m forty and last time I was in Tokyo I bought several of them. I think I’ve never laughed out loud reading a kanji/japanese textbook until I found this ;). Long life to unko sensei!

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