Feb 122011
 

What could this cute girl promote? Of course: meat!

お肉がいちばん
健康な体は良質なタンパクな質で

東京都食肉事業協同組合

Meat is the best
Healthy body needs good quality proteins
Association for Tokyo meat producers

いちばん written here in hiragana 一番 literally means number one or first in line. It is used to create superlative form of adjectives. Here the adjective is omitted leaving impression that meat is the best, meat is the most. Thus literal translation might be “meat is the …st”

肉 is a Chinese character for meat. It is meant to look like meat or muscles.

It is abbreviated to 月 in many characters related to body parts 腕 (an arm), 脚 (a leg), 腰 (a waist), and even 肝 (a liver) or 臓器 (internal organs) that rather do not have muscles.

What is confusing is that 月 as a part of a character comes from 3 different sources. It can mean 肉 meat, 月 the moon, or 舟 ship.

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