This article introduces three weird kanji characters – 凸凹 (でこぼこ, dekoboko), 〆 (しめ, shime) and 卍 (まんじ, manji) – that you’d enjoy learning!
凸凹 consists of two kanjis “凸” and “凹” and reads “でこぼこ (dekoboko)”. As indicated by the characters, it means “bumpy/rough”, e.g. “凸凹な道” means “bumpy road”. It is also used figuratively to describe a couple of people who are in contrast to each other in terms of personality, appearance, etc. Among the most common phrases is “凸凹コンビ” meaning “a couple of contrasting people” (cf. “コンビ” is a Japlish word that means “duo/couple”, originating from “combination”).
〆 reads “しめ (shime)” and is usually used in the word “〆切 (しめきり)” meaning “deadline” (〆切 is also written as “締切” or “締め切り”). 〆 is also used as a word by itself that means “something you eat to finish off the meal”, e.g. “〆にラーメンを食べよう” means “Let’s eat ramen as 〆 (last food that concludes the meal/day)”. Ramen is probably the most popular food to eat as 〆 after drinking a lot (to the extent that you lose the sense of fullness and common sense, you know), and there are lots of 24/7 ramen restaurants in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka that welcome such drunk people. When we eat a hotpot meal, it’s very common to put rice into the pot before we finish it and eat it as 〆 (which is called 雑炊 (zousui/rice porridge)).
〆 is also the mark we write over envelope closure (like a stamp) to indicate that it is sealed and has not been opened yet. Therefore, it has the sense of “closure/conclusion”, which you see in 〆切 (“deadline”) and 〆 (“food that concludes the meal”).
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卍 is originally a mirror image of the ancient religious icon called “swastika symbol”, and has been used in many countries other than Japan. In Japanese, it reads “まんじ (manji)”, and is used as a map symbol for temples.
Interestingly, however, recently teen girls (especially those at high school) have started to use this symbol to describe their excitement, especially in the form of the phrase “マジ卍”. It seems (well, I cannot be so sure about this as I’m not in the group of teen girls) it is usually put at the end of a sentence, like “かわいい！マジ卍” to indicate that you’re excited at something, but in fact, it is used pretty much anytime and anywhere to the extent that it does not contain any meaning. Although this “word” has been spread on TV by some young female idols and celebrities over the past few years, it seems it has been already getting out of date among real teen girls. Therefore, if you attempt to throw this word in a text/conversation to sound young and casual, you may rather end up sounding like a weirdo pretending to appreciate young cultures in Japan.