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Sometimes the kanji says it all. Though in most cases it is largely impossible to foretell a character’s meaning from its shape — 田 (window?), 今 (bus stop?), 無 (cockroach in motion?) — the semantics of this one cuts right through you: 中.

Read naka, chū or , 中 captures the complex meaning of being within, between or in the middle of something. In its most straightforward sense, it translates simply as “in”: 家の中 (ie no naka, in the house), カバンの中 (kaban no naka¸ in the bag) or, more metaphysically, 心の中 (kokoro no naka, in the heart). Even when outside, you can still be “in” something, for instance, 雨の中 (ame no naka, in the rain).

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