Safety First 安全第一

Safety first
An unusually grungy example of the characters seen on construction barriers in Japan.

I have been amusing myself by attempting to read kanji, characters in the Japanese written language taken from Chinese, while on this latest trip to Japan 日本. Although the sounds in spoken Japanese are often completely different (sometimes involving more than one syllable, which confused me at first), the meaning is often the same as in Chinese. My vocabulary is very limited but I seem to be well-equipped to figure out Japanese place names and the sort of thing people commonly inscribe on monuments, temples, and gravestones.

This particular photograph captures a construction site barrier emblazoned with the saying 安全第一 (“safety first”), something that I haven’t noticed in Taiwan. I didn’t know “safety” but I vaguely knew 安 had something to do with peace and tranquility (actually, it is just “safe”). The rest was obvious with the addition of the medical cross. Anyway, it is no great revelation, but I really enjoy how learning even a little bit of Chinese is opening up an entirely new world, bit by bit.