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cold; poor; to tremble day; sky; heaven
simp. and trad.




  1. chilly weather; cold weather
  2. (Min Nan) winter
  3. Alternative name for 洋菜 (yángcài, “agar; agar-agar: vegetable gelatine”).

Usage notesEdit

  • This is a more colloquial way to say “winter” than 冬天 (tang-thiⁿ) in Min Nan.


Japanese Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia ja
English Wikipedia has an article on:
寒天 (kanten): “ice mochi” made of sweetened agar.
Kanji in this term
Grade: 3
Grade: 1


Etymology 1Edit

From Middle Chinese compound 寒天 (MC ɦɑn tʰen). Compare the modern Hakka hòn-thiên or Min Nan kôaⁿ-thiⁿ.


寒天 (hiragana かんてん, rōmaji kanten)

  1. cold weather
  2. a wintry sky

Etymology 2Edit

Kanten was discovered in roughly 1658 by innkeeper 美濃太郎左衛門 (Mino Tarōzaemon) after discarding some 心太 (tokoroten, a kind of jelly-like noodle made from boiled seaweed extract) outside, and noticing that it had gelled overnight in the winter weather and then dried to a white powder over the next few days. According to various sources, the substance was called 寒天 by taking the first and last elements of the phrase 晒(し)心太 (kan-zarashi tokoroten), literally “cold-exposed tokoroten”.[2][3]


寒天 (hiragana かんてん, rōmaji kanten)

  1. agar, agar-agar: vegetable gelatine
Derived termsEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
  2. ^ 2014, 女性におすすめのダイエット食と健康食 (Josei ni Osusume no Daietto Shoku to Kenkō Shoku, “Diet and Health Foods Recommended for Women”) (in Japanese), All About staff editors, Tōkyō: All About.
    Text may be viewable at Google Books here.
  3. ^ 2006, 日本料理事物起源 (Nihon Ryōri Jibutsu Kigen, “The Origins of Japanese Cuisine Items”) (in Japanese), Kōzō Kawakami and Masahiro Koide, Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten.
    A text snippet may be viewable at Google Books here.
  • 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  • 2002, Ineko Kondō; Fumi Takano; Mary E Althaus; et. al., Shogakukan Progressive Japanese-English Dictionary, Third Edition, Tokyo: Shōgakukan, →ISBN.