Two of the first kanji Conner Lowe learned were the ones that make up the word daizu, meaning soybeans.

For him, knowing those two characters, 大豆, is a matter of life and death because he has a serious allergy to legumes.

After the native of Santa Cruz, California, took his first bite of curry rice at a restaurant in Tokyo two years ago, his throat swelled and became itchy. He took some allergy medicine and decided not to go to a hospital out of concern for his lack of Japanese skills. He later came to realize that the curry must have contained peanuts.