Kage (影) means shadow. You have:
Ho-kage (火影) - fire shadow
Kaze-kage (風影) - wind shadow
Tsuchi-kage (土影) - earth shadow
Mizu-kage (水影) - water shadow
Rai-kage (雷影) - lightning shadow
The kanji for 'wind' is made up of the radicals 几 "table" and 虫 "insect"
Like a bug hiding under the table from the wind :)
Wow!!! Do you think this was intended when they were created? It makes so much sense!
神風 - it means "divine wind". 神 (kami) means god. Kami can also mean hair (髪) or paper (紙), but the kanji is different, as you can see.
They are also pronounced slightly different. The accent pattern for 神 is called atamadaka, and is characterised by the first syllable being accented, and getting a higher tone, while the accent pattern for 紙 and 髪 are called odaka, which is just about the opposite of atamadaka. In odaka stress pattern, the last syllable receives the stress, and has a high tone.
I agree that this is not clear, this while course is filled with issues like that, like 中, where it makes you pick chou but says naka
"さむい、寒い" is an adjective meaning cold (low temperature), while "かぜ、風邪" is a sickness called "cold" in English.
It's just the kanji for wind. I imagine it as a wind turbine, with the axle down the center, and the engine itself in the middle set inside a sort of cage. This helps me both to remember the connection to wind, and the word 'kaze', as it sounds like cage.
I knew it meant "wind" because I watched the anime Koi Kaze before which means "Love Wind".
So do Japanese characters represent sounds か (ka) + ぜ (ze) = kaze = wind, rather than letters like English?
Rather than letters? They are still 'letters', but they represent syllables (or rather moras, which is slightly different), instead of phonemes, as with the latin alphabet. Both of those can be classified as 'sounds'.
It's not very clear for me the nuance between syllables and moras. Can you be more explicit?
First of all, there is not one single definition of what a mora is, and it is often dependent upon which language you are talking about. There is also a large overlap between the concept of mora and the concept of syllable. In general, what is considered to be a mora, has to do with the stress pattern of a language, which parts of a word are stressed, and in what way. I'll give one example first, and try to explain afterwards.
In the word "かんじ"(kanji), there are two syllables "かん"(kan) and "じ"(ji), but there are three morae, "か", "ん" and "じ". In Japanese, morae has to do with the pitch stress system of the language, and are the smallest part of a word that can have an individual pitch. In the example above, the pitch can change from one mora to another, but not within one mora.
Syllables have to do with the relation between consonants and vowels. Typically, a syllable consists of a nucleus (usually a vowel, in Japanese always a vowel), a beginning, called an onset, and an end, called the coda, which are usually consonants. A syllable does not have to have an onset and a coda, but it has to have a nucleus. One way to look at it, that I like, is to say that a syllable is the smallest pronounceable part of a word. In the syllable "kan" you have two morae, where one of them also can be a syllable in another context (ka), and one that cannot be a syllable on its own (n). "ka" is easy to pronounce, but "n" in isolation, is not so naturally pronounceable (it's not really hard, but it doesn't feel natural).
I know these are not very precise definitions, but at least this is how I manage the two concepts.
Thank you very much for your quick and detailed explanation. I will need some time to think of it deeper.
I read somewhere that "fuu" (ふう?) means wind (as in, Fuu from Samurai Champloo) but かぜ makes sense too (as in Kazekage in Naruto.) So what does "fuu" mean if it means anything at all?
"fuu" is an on-yomi reading for the wind kanji 風 This is the reading for it you'll see in most compound words.
風 かぜ is the wind in terms of talking about the weather, but read as "ふう" it can mean "style/appearance/air" or "Wind" in terms of naming the elements. :)
It's a homophone, 紙 kami is "paper", but the kami in kamikaze is actually 神 "god, deity, divinity" - 神風 - Divine wind
komikaze ;is known as devine winds ... not wind (singular) what is the rule for singular, rather than plural? I don"t spell well, but I do pay attention well.
In Japanese there is no difference between singular and plural; it is all implied through context. If you need to clarify an amount you would specify the number or use adjectives like "many", "few", etc.
風 is both singular 'wind' and plural 'winds'
Thanks for blowing the fog away. It makes sense to me when it's put that way.