Cool Kanji – 妙

This past weekend I drove the six-hour drive from Aizu up to Nyuto Onsen in Akita Prefecture. Tsurunoyu, the most famous onsen up there, was full, so we stayed in one called Taenoyu, written 妙乃湯.

I’d like to direct you to the first character – 妙. This is used in a host of interesting compounds:

奇妙な(きみょうな)strange, mysterious

微妙な(びみょうな)subtle, delicate, sensitive    /   indifferent

妙な (みょうな)strange

On its own, 妙 is apparently used as 妙(たえ)なる and seems to mean ethereal, sublime or sweet or heavenly – something greater than human, specifically in relation to music. Apparently there is a Bodhisattva (ぼさつ in Japanese – 菩薩) called 妙見 (みょうけん), so the onsen named their northern-most bath 妙見湯, since that particular bodhisattva turned into a star in the Big Dipper, in Japanese 北斗(ほくと)七星(しちせい).
The chopstick-holder-together-paper-thingy at dinner looked like this: