I was hydrating the other day with a Pocari Sweat and happened to notice this on the back label (apologies for the image quality):
Ah, ha! I thought. I recognize イオン, and I remember all of those elements from chemistry class. All of the elements on top have plus signs next to them, and the ones on the bottom have minus signs, so 陽 (pronounced よう) must mean “positive,” and 陰 (いん) “negative.” Nice. Keeping your eyeballs peeled will learn you a lot.
This reminds me – these two characters are also used as the positive and negative for test results. The only thing scarier than getting back the results of an HIV test is getting back the results of an HIV test in a foreign language and realizing holy shit I cannot understand a single coddamn thing on this piece of paper. Knowing these two kanji will hopefully prevent you from having to worry any longer than is absolutely necessary. 陰性 (いんせい) is what you are hoping for.
Keep Your Eyes Open was a series I meant to continue after this initial exploration last year. Clearly I haven’t been keeping my eyes open wide enough.