The 214 traditional kanji radicals and their variants

Kanji are classified in kanji dictionaries according to their main components which are called radicals (roots) in English and 部首 (ぶしゅ) in Japanese. 部 (ぶ) means a group and 首 (しゅ) means a chief (head/neck). There are 214 historical radicals derived from the 18th century Kangxi dictionary.

Every kanji without exception only has one radical / 部首 (ぶしゅ). Each radical has a meaning(s) and lends its meaning(s) to the kanji of which it is part. Please take a look at the examples below. The right part of these three kanji is the same but the left part is different. The left part of these kanji is their radical. Note how each radical imparts its meaning to the kanji:

時:  The radical of this kanji is 日 (sun, day, time). The meaning of this kanji is “time.”
詩:  The radical of this kanji is 言 (words, to speak, say). The meaning of this kanji is “poetry, poem”.
持:  The radical of this kanji is 扌(hand). The meaning of this kanji is “to hold”.

For this reason it is very important to learn each kanji’s radical, as well as the meaning(s) of its radical. Not all 214 radicals are in use in current Japanese but you will soon become familiar with the most important ones and their variants.

There are no official Japanese names for radicals. But there are certain commonly-used names. That is why you will find differences in the Japanese names for the radicals on different websites and dictionaries.

Radicals are categorized into seven main groups according to their position within a kanji. Please note that some kanji are also radicals in and of themselves (such as 大, 日, 月). In those cases, the kanji and the radical are one and the same, and thus the position of the radical in the kanji is irrelevant. As a result they do not fall into any one of the seven categories.

へん (hen)radical left position へんRadicals on the left side of the kanji
つくり (tsukuri)radical right position つくりRadicals on the right
かんむり (kanmuri)radical top position かんむりRadicals on the top
あし (ashi)radical bottom position あしRadicals on the bottom
かまえ (kamae)

radical enclosed position くにがまえ
radical enclosed position ぎょうがまえ
radical enclosed position けいがまえ
radical enclosed position はこがまえ
radical enclosed position つつみがまえ
radical enclosed position きがまえ
radical enclosed position もんがまえ
Radicals which enclose the kanji
たれ (tare)radical top-left position たれRadicals which "hang down"
にょう (nyou)radical bottom-left position にょうRadicals which wrap around the bottom of a character

With our web app ( you can search for radicals by name, stroke or meaning using the Advanced Search syntax (for example, rjn:miru or rjn:みる to search by Japanese name, rs:7 to search by stroke number and rem:see to search by English meaning). Please consult our User Guide for additional search options.

Tip: By default, the radicals in the list below are presented in ascending stroke order. However you can also focus on a specific stroke number or look for individual radicals by using the “Search” field at the top of the table. Alternatively you can click on a column heading to sort the entire table by that heading. This is also a good way to focus on just the most important radicals. Clicking on the “a variant of..” link scrolls the page to the original version of that radical.

Tip: You can also use the table’s own search field to search/filter radicals by position. Use the radical positions table as a reference. For example, to view all radicals in the “hang down” position, type たれ or “tare” into the search field. To avoid ambiguities amongst the different kinds of “enclosed” radicals, search for these in hiragana. Placing your mouse pointer over any position symbol in the radical table reveals its Japanese name.

Fonts: Many of the radical characters shown on this list are not supported by the Japanese fonts widely used on Windows, OS X or Linux (some not even in Unicode). For these reasons we created Japanese Radicals, an open-source font derived from Source Han Sans with 60 custom glyphs which add support for every Japanese radical and variant. The font is freely available for private or commercial use.

Tip: If you’d like a copy of the radicals tables in a format better suited for printing or if you’d like to re-use this data in another application, please visit our open-source repository on GitHub. Most of the language data and media files used in Kanji alive are freely available under a Creative Commons CC-BY license.

1one, horizontal strokeいち
1vertical strokeたてぼう
1diagonal sweeping stroke
1かんむり Radical on the topdiagonal sweeping strokeのかんむりa variant of ⼃(の)
1the secondおつ
1the secondおつa variant of ⼄(おつ)
1vertical stroke with a hookはねぼう
2かんむり Radical on the toplid, topなべぶたImportant
2へん Radical on the leftpersonにんべんa variant of ⼈(ひと)Important
2𠆢かんむり Radical on the toppersonひとやねa variant of ⼈(ひと)Important
2あし Radical on the bottomhuman legsひとあしImportant
2to enterいる
2eightはちがしらa variant of ⼋(はち)
2けいがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjito encloseけいがまえ
2かんむり Radical on the topcover, crownわかんむりImportant
2へん Radical on the lefticeにすい
2つくり Radical on the righttableきにょう
2かんむり Radical on the topwindかぜかんむりa variant of ⼏(きにょう)
2にょう Radical which wraps around the bottomcontainer, open boxかんにょう
2knife, swordかたな
2つくり Radical on the rightknife, swordりっとうa variant of ⼑(かたな)Important
2つつみがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjito wrapつつみがまえ
2つくり Radical on the rightspoonさじ
2はこがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjiboxはこがまえ
2はこがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjito conceal, hideかくしがまえ
2つくり Radical on the rightstamp, sealふしづくり
2たれ Radical which ‘hangs down’cliffがんだれImportant
2private, Katakana Mu
2again, right handまた
3へん Radical on the leftmouthくちへんa variant of ⼝(くち)Important
3くにがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjiborder, territorial boundariesくにがまえImportant
3へん Radical on the leftearthつちへんa variant of ⼟(つち)Important
3man, scholar, samuraiさむらい
3かんむり Radical on the topman, scholar, samuraiさむらいかんむりa variant of ⼠(さむらい)
3to followのまた
3あし Radical on the bottomto go slowlyなつあし
3large, bigだい
3へん Radical on the leftwomanおんなへんa variant of ⼥(おんな)Important
3child, son
3へん Radical on the leftchild, sonこへんa variant of ⼦(こ)Important
3かんむり Radical on the toproof, houseうかんむりImportant
3inch, (2.25 cm)すん
3つくり Radical on the rightinch, (2.25 cm)すんづくりa variant of ⼨(すん)
3かんむり Radical on the topsmallしょうかんむりa variant of ⼩(しょう)
3つくり Radical on the rightlame legだいのまげあし
3たれ Radical which ‘hangs down’corpse, awningしかばね
3へん Radical on the leftmountainやまへんa variant of ⼭(やま)
3かんむり Radical on the topmountainやまかんむりa variant of ⼭(やま)
3winding riverまがりがわ
3riverさんぼんがわa variant of ⼮(まがりがわ)
3work, carpenter, skillたくみ
3へん Radical on the leftwork, carpenter, skillたくみへんa variant of ⼯(たくみ)
3へん Radical on the leftclothはばへんa variant of ⼱(はば)
3to dry, shieldかん
3young, slightいとがしら
3たれ Radical which ‘hangs down’slanting roofまだれImportant
3にょう Radical which wraps around the bottomto move, stretchえんにょう
3あし Radical on the bottomfolded handsにじゅうあし
3bow (in archery)ゆみ
3へん Radical on the leftbow (in archery)ゆみへんa variant of ⼸(ゆみ)
3pig’s headけいがしら
3pig’s headけいがしらa variant of ⼹(けいがしら)
3pig’s headけいがしらa variant of ⼹(けいがしら)
3つくり Radical on the righthair-style, light raysさんづくり
3へん Radical on the leftstep, stride, street, to goぎょうにんべんImportant
3かんむり Radical on the topgrassくさかんむりa variant of ⾋(くさ)Important
3にょう Radical which wraps around the bottomroad, walk, to advanceしんにょうa variant of ⾡(しんにょう)Important
3つくり Radical on the rightvillage, country, cityおおざとa variant of ⾢(むら)Important
3へん Radical on the lefthill, moundこざとへんa variant of ⾩(こざと)Important
3かんむり Radical on the topKatakana Tsu
3へん Radical on the leftheart, mind, spiritりっしんべんa variant of ⼼(こころ)Important
3へん Radical on the lefthandてへんa variant of ⼿(て)Important
3へん Radical on the leftwaterさんずいa variant of ⽔(みず)Important
3へん Radical on the leftbeastけものへんa variant of ⽝(いぬ)Important
4heart, mind, spiritこころ
4あし Radical on the bottomheart, mind, spiritしたごころa variant of ⼼(こころ)
4spear, weaponほこ
4たれ Radical which ‘hangs down’doorとだれa variant of ⼾(と)
4つくり Radical on the rightactivity, to strike, hitぼくづくり
4つくり Radical on the rightactivity, to strike, hitぼくづくりa variant of ⽁(ぼくづくり) Important
4literature, lettersぶん
4つくり Radical on the rightbig dipper, ladle, 18 litersますづくり
4つくり Radical on the rightaxeおのづくり
4direction, flagほう
4へん Radical on the leftdirection, flagほうへんa variant of ⽅(ほう)
4sun, day, time
4へん Radical on the leftsun, day, timeひへんa variant of ⽇(ひ)Important
4to sayひらび
4moon, month, periodつき
4へん Radical on the leftmoon, month, periodつきへんa variant of ⽉(つき)
4meat, fleshにくづきa variant of ⾁(にく)Important
4tree, wood
4へん Radical on the lefttree, woodきへんa variant of ⽊(き)Important
4to lack, yawnあくび
4to stopとめる
4death & dying, to decomposeがつ
4へん Radical on the leftdeath & dying, to decomposeがつへんa variant of ⽍(がつ)
4つくり Radical on the rightlance shaft, actionるまた
4not, motherなかれ
4to compareくらべる
4family, clanうじ
4きがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjisteam, airきがまえ
4へん Radical on the leftfireひへんa variant of ⽕(ひ)Important
4あし Radical on the bottomfireれっかa variant of ⽕(ひ)Important
4claw, nailつめ
4かんむり Radical on the topclaw, nailつめかんむりa variant of ⽖(つめ)
4かんむり Radical on the topclaw, nailつめかんむりa variant of ⽖(つめ)
4to mixこう
4へん Radical on the leftsplit woodしょうへん
4split woodかた
4へん Radical on the leftsplit woodかたへんa variant of ⽚(かた)
4fang, canine toothきば
4へん Radical on the leftcowうしへんa variant of ⽜(うし)
4へん Radical on the leftjewelry, jeweled kingおうへんa variant of ⽟(たま)Important
4へん Radical on the leftaltar, festival, religious serviceしめすへんa variant of ⽰(しめす)Important
4netあみがしらa variant of ⽹(あみ)
4かんむり Radical on the topold, old-ageおいかんむりa variant of ⽼(おいかんむり)
5birth, to be born, liveうまれる
5to useもちいる
5rice paddy
5へん Radical on the leftrice paddyたへんa variant of ⽥(た)
5bolt of clothひき
5へん Radical on the leftbolt of clothひきへんa variant of ⽦(ひき)
5たれ Radical which ‘hangs down’sicknessやまいだれImportant
5かんむり Radical on the topoutspread legs, departureはつがしら
5へん Radical on the leftwhiteはくへんa variant of ⽩(しろ)
5skin, hideけがわ
5plate, bowlさら
5へん Radical on the lefteyeめへんa variant of ⽬(め)Important
5かんむり Radical on the topeyeよこめa variant of ⽬(め)
5へん Radical on the lefthalberdほこへんa variant of ⽭(ほこ)
5へん Radical on the leftarrowやへんa variant of ⽮(や)
5へん Radical on the leftstoneいしへんa variant of ⽯(いし)
5altar, festival, religious serviceしめす
5へん Radical on the leftgrainのぎへんImportant
5hole, caveあな
5かんむり Radical on the tophole, caveあなかんむりa variant of ⽳(あな)Important
5to standたつ
5へん Radical on the leftto standたつへんa variant of ⽴(たつ)
5fang, canine toothきばa variant of (きば)
5へん Radical on the leftfang, canine toothきばへんa variant of ⽛(きば)
5waterしたみずa variant of ⽔(みず)
5かんむり Radical on the topnetあみがしらa variant of ⽹(あみ)
5𦉰netあみがしらa variant of ⽹(あみ)
5へん Radical on the leftclothingころもへんa variant of ⾐(ころも)Important
5notむにょうa variant of ⽆(むにょう)
6かんむり Radical on the topbambooたけかんむりa variant of ⽵(たけ)Important
6へん Radical on the leftriceこめへんa variant of ⽶(こめ)Important
6へん Radical on the leftthreadいとへんa variant of ⽷(いと)Important
6earthen jarみずがめ
6sheepひつじa variant of ⽺(ひつじ)
6feather, wingはね
6feather, wingはねa variant of 羽(はね)
6old, old-ageおいかんむり
6and alsoしこうして
6へん Radical on the leftplowらいすき
6へん Radical on the leftearみみへんa variant of ⽿(みみ)
6writing brushふでづくり
6flesh, meatにく
6retainer, ministerしん
6to arrive, reachいたる
6へん Radical on the leftto arrive, reachいたるへんa variant of ⾄(いたる)
6mortar, quernうす
6contrary, to errまいあし
6ship, boatふね
6へん Radical on the leftship, boatふねへんa variant of ⾈(ふね)
6grass, plantくさ
6かんむり Radical on the toptigerとらがしら
6worm, insect, bugむし
6へん Radical on the leftworm, insect, bugむしへんa variant of ⾍(むし)Important
6ぎょうがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjito goぎょうがまえImportant
6cover, westにし
6cover, westにしa variant of ⾑(にし)
6melonうりa variant of ⽠(うり)
7to seeみる
7horn, cornerつの
7へん Radical on the lefthorn, cornerつのへんa variant of ⾓(つの)
7words, to speak, sayげん
7へん Radical on the leftwords, to speak, sayごんべんa variant of ⾔(げん)Important
7へん Radical on the leftvalleyたにへんa variant of ⾕(たに)
7へん Radical on the leftbeanまめへんa variant of ⾖(まめ)
7へん Radical on the leftbadgerむじなへん
7shell, property, wealthかい
7へん Radical on the leftshell, property, wealthかいへんa variant of ⾙(かい)Important
7to runはしる
7にょう Radical which wraps around the bottomto runそうにょうa variant of ⾛(はしる)Important
7foot, legあし
7へん Radical on the leftfoot, legあしへんa variant of ⾜(あし)Important
7へん Radical on the leftbodyみへんa variant of ⾝(み)
7vehicle, wheel, carくるま
7へん Radical on the leftvehicle, wheel, carくるまへんa variant of ⾞(くるま)Important
7Fifth zodiac sign, 7–9 A.M.しんのたつ
7to advance, move aheadしんにょう
7sake jar, birdひよみのとり
7へん Radical on the leftsake jar, birdとりへんa variant of ⾣(ひよみのとり)
7to separateのごめ
7へん Radical on the leftto separateのごめへんa variant of ⾤(のごめ)
7village, (3.93 km)さと
7へん Radical on the leftvillage, (3.93 km)さとへんa variant of ⾥(さと)
7retainer, ministerしんa variant of ⾂(しん)
7contrary, to errまいあしa variant of ⾇(まいあし)
7wheatむぎa variant of ⿆(むぎ)
8metal, gold, mineralかね
8へん Radical on the leftmetal, gold, mineralかねへんa variant of ⾦(かね)Important
8もんがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjigate, doorもんがまえImportant
8つくり Radical on the rightto captureれいづくり
8small birdふるとり
8かんむり Radical on the toprainあめかんむりa variant of ⾬(あめ)Important
8blue, greenあお
8blue, greenあおa variant of ⾭(あお)
8wrong, non-あらず
8へん Radical on the leftfood, to eatしょくへんa variant of ⾷(しょく)
8alikeせいa variant of ⿑(せい)
9face, surfaceめん
9sound, noiseおと
9つくり Radical on the righthead, pageおおがいImportant
9to flyとぶ
9food, to eatしょく
10へん Radical on the lefthorseうまへんa variant of ⾺(うま)
10へん Radical on the leftboneほねへんa variant of ⾻(ほね)
10かんむり Radical on the toplong hairかみかんむり
10もんがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjifightingたたかいがまえ
10leatherなめしがわa variant of (なめしがわ)
11へん Radical on the leftfishうおへんa variant of ⿂(うお)Important
11かんむり Radical on the tophempあさかんむりa variant of ⿇(あさ)
11yellowa variant of ⿈(き)
11blackくろa variant of ⿊(くろ)
11turtleかめa variant of ⿔(かめ)
12tootha variant of ⿒(は)
13rat, mouseねずみ


The English meanings of each radical in Kanji alive are based on Kanji & Kana by Wolfgang Hadamitzky & Mark Spahn, (1981), Tuttle Publishing with additional reference to Basic Kanji by Matsuo Soga & Michio Yusa (1989), Taishūkan, and Andrew N. Nelson, The Original Modern Reader’s Japanese-English Character Dictionary: Classic Edition, 2nd. ed. (1974), Tuttle Publishing. The Japanese names for the radicals are based on『講談社カラー版日本語大辞典』(第一版)1989, 講談社.

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43 thoughts on “The 214 traditional kanji radicals and their variants

  1. iji

    I don’t understand where you use 5 strokes for water. In Kanji Alive Web Interface, water has 4 strokes.
    氺 water したみず 4 5

    1. hlory

      Hi iji, thank you for your note. “shitamizu” is a variant of “mizu” so in the Kangxi dictionary “shitamizu” was listed under 4 strokes. However, when you count the strokes of “shitamizu”, there are 5 strokes so we decided to list it in Kanji alive under 5 strokes.

      1. iji

        my Windows XP & browsers can’t display some of the radicals (such as ひとやね, かぜ a.s.o.).
        is it a font-related problem?

        1. Arno Bosse

          Hi iji, yes, this is a font related problem. Unfortunately most Japanese fonts do not include enough glyphs (graphical representations of characters) to cover all the radical variants. I can offer two suggestions:

          The first is to switch to Microsoft’s Meiryo font to show Japanese on the web by following these simple instructions on our website. This will improve the readability of all Japanese text on any website and should also provide support for more radical glyphs. However, there will still be a few radicals which can’t be displayed in Meiryo either.

          To address this, you could install the free Mplus outline fonts. These will definitely include support for the radicals used in Kanji alive. We didn’t provide instructions for doing this on our website since the process is potentially a little more complicated but if you’re interested in using Mplus we would be more than happy to assist you.

          1. iji

            Thank you very much. I wasn’t aware of the Meiryo font. I did have problems with readability and I was zooming a lot most of the time :)

            As for the M+ font, I don’t think it’s worth the trouble for me at this point in time.

  2. PheDz

    Hi, What do you think is the suggested writing to use, is it Kanji or Hiragana? I think it’s hard to learn the Kanji. But I want to learn Nihon-go. :)

    1. hlory

      Hi PheDz,

      There are three writing systems in Japanese: Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana. Beginners of the Japanese language always learn how to read and write Hiragana and Katakana because they are phonetic symbols. The readings of kanji are sometimes written in Hiragana along with the kanji. So once you learn how to read Hiragana, you can read any Japanese sentences even though you don’t know the meaning of them. For example, 明日(あした)、私(わたし)は日本(にほん)へ行(い)きます。(Ashita watashi wa nihon he ikimasu. I am going to Japan tomorrow) So you need to learn Hiragana first.

      However, you will need to learn kanji eventually because kanji are very useful to grasp the meaning of words. Even just learning to recognize kanji is very helpful for you to understand the Japanese language.

      For example, please take a look at this sentence. はしのはしではしをかう。(Hashi no hashi de hashi o kau) This sentence is written in Hiragana only. You can see “はし” three times in this sentence. There are many different words with the same pronunciation in Japanese. Each はし has a different meaning. But when you see the sentence in Hiragana, you can’t know which meaning the words in Hiragana have. However, when this sentence is written in kanji and Hiragana, the meanings are clear. 橋の端で箸を買う。橋 (はし hashi)means a bridge, 端 (はし hashi)means an end or edge and 箸 (はし hashi) means chopsticks. The meaning of the sentence is “(I am going to) buy chopsticks at the end of a bridge.”

      I hope you can understand how important learning kanji is for the study of Japanese. Each kanji has a story behind it. If you learn those stories through radicals and mnemonic hints, the study of kanji will become enjoyable for you. I hope Kanji alive will help to lead you effectively on this fun journey!

      1. Steve P

        That’s a great response! I am taking an beginning japanese course now, and I am about 98% confident in my hiragana (there’s a few that I keep getting mixed up) 50% of my katakana.

        I understand that there are multiple meanings to hashi as it is written in hiragana. But, doesn’t this also apply to how your example sentence is spoken, since hiragana is just a way to transcribe sounds?

        1. Rehn

          I think this is actually a very valid point and it’s not necessary to the understanding of Kanji. Of course we have to understand how to read Kanji but if someone were to say this sentence aloud how would you understand them? Or would you simply rephrase it to be better understood?

          1. Harumi Lory Post author

            Hi Rehn, I’m very sorry we didn’t respond to your comment in a timely manner – it somehow slipped our attention.

            When you read sentences in Japanese, a knowledge of kanji is helpful for grasping the meaning of words easily. When you hear or speak the example sentence (hashi no hashi de hashi o kau), the intonation of “hashi” lets you know the meaning of each “hashi”, and the particles help you understand the meaning of the sentence. So it is important for learners of Japanese to learn all four skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) at the same time.

  3. Jac k

    I’m wondering why the list is divided in this odd way, with the stroke numbers 1-12, and then starting again at 1 and going to 11.

    1. Arno Bosse

      Hi Jac,

      Did you mean the list of kanji you get following a search in the Kanji alive web app? I only ask because you posted this question on the page with the list of 214 traditional radicals. I am assuming you meant the list of kanji shown in the Kanji alive web app after a search.

      Here, the results of your searches can be viewed in three different ways. Let’s assume, as in your example, some search you entered matched a group of kanji with strokes numbers between 1 and 12. Initially, these are shown sorted by kanji stroke number in ascending order, 1-12. Click once on the “Sort” button near the top of the web app’s window and you’ll now see the same set of kanji grouped by radical stroke number (i.e. the radicals found in the kanji matching the initial search term). If more than one kanji share a radical, then these are sorted again by their kanji stroke number. Click on the “Sort” button again, and you’ll see the same kanji grouped by their kanji stroke number. If several kanji share the same stroke number, these are then sorted again their radical stroke number. Click on “Sort” one more time and you’ll return to the initial (ungrouped) sort order, i.e. by kanji stroke number only. These three options are described more fully in the User Guide.

      I hope this helps make sense of what you’re seeing. If it does not, please email us at with a description of the search term you used to produce your earlier results and we’ll try to make sense of what’s going on.

  4. Iuri

    Hi, thanks for posting this, I was looking for a place to to provide me with reference for studying the kanji radicals, however, I don’t seem to find the stroke order of these radicals, where could I find the stroke order?

    1. Arno Bosse

      Hi Iuri, did you mean #1 the (stroke) order by which radicals are traditionally sorted, or #2 the actual order of written strokes in a radical itself? For the former, the default order in which the radicals are presented on this page is the same as their traditional order of representation, i.e. on the basis of their strokes counts.

      However, I think you probably meant #2. I’m not aware of an online resource with this information, though I am confident one exists. Of course, in the case of radicals which are also kanji, you can lookup their kanji stroke using e.g. our own web app, Moreover, since each kanji, precisely speaking, only contains exactly one radical, if you know any kanji which uses this radical, you can watch the stroke order of the whole kanji and thus discover the stroke order of the radical within it. Please see the introduction to this page for different ways to search for kanji by radical using the Kanji alive web app. I hope this helps!

  5. Iuri

    Thanks for your reply, and sorry for taking so long to answer, yes, I meant #2, I’m going to do what you suggested and look up for kanjis that have the radicals that I’m looking for, in order to get their stroke order, again, thanks!

  6. Laeark

    Hi, i just want to tell to the author that i find this page the most useful and best explained about the japanese radicals ( ´・ω・)つ旦.

  7. スミス

    Just finished Elementary Japanese II at the University of Tennessee. I only have about a hundred kanji, so far, but I am pretty good at it…so far:) This is a very helpful site… 先生 uses it often. Working with various sources actually….White Rabbit Press Kanji Flash Card (Series 2, Vol. 1 and 2), Graded Reader 1 (Vol. 1,2 , and 3), Genki I and II textbooks and workbooks), Genki Look-and-Learn Kanji, etc. It’s no more of a struggle than trying to remember the vocabulary, particles, the many conjugations of verbs, adjectives, nouns, etc…not to the sentence forms!! And the listening!! Wow…I’ve given up wondering why the sounds of the language don’t match the romaji….just go with the flow…. しち as stigi (pardon my improve) or ひと (人) as shtoo (again, pardon the improve. Sorry, getting off on a lot of tangents! Wonderful and VERY useful site!!!

  8. Leena

    Hi, I am just a beginner in Japanese. For the first months I’ve learned both Hiragana and Katakana and the basics in speaking but I think now it’s the time for me to finally learn kanji ;) I think this site will be very useful for me but I have a question. I’d like to learn all the radicals that are here before going any further but I’m confused about the on and kun-readings I’ve heard of. So here are given only the kun-readings? shouldn’t we learn them both with one kanji or not?

    1. Kanji alive

      Hi Leena, radicals don’t have On and Kun readings as such. They do have commonly used names or nicknames which are written in hiragana. The exception to this are the handful of radicals which are simultaneously also kanji. These kanji do have On and Kun readings.

      Especially as a beginner, it’s really not necessary for you to learn all of the radicals. Focus instead on the ones marked “Important” on These radicals will be vital for your continued study of kanji.

      Lastly, even if you are learning kanji by yourself, it’s usually still a good idea to help organize your course of studies with the help of a good textbook. To see which textbooks are supported by Kanji alive, please visit

  9. Diana

    Hi! I simply wanted to thank you!! It’s not a great contribution, but your site is so complete, useful and generous that I had to say it. :)

  10. LaVieQ


    Thanks for taking the time to put together all this radical information. Very useful.

    One question: In the first sentence, you say that the 首 in 部首 means “chief”. Doesn’t it mean “neck”? When I checked the meaning on, didn’t see alternate meaning of “chief”. Of course, “neck” is a “chief” part of the body, and, in that sense it’s meaningful. :-)


    1. Kanji alive

      Hi LVQ, both and The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary, by Jack Halpern, list the kanji 首 with possible meanings of “neck”, “head” and “leader/chief.” That’s why on our web page we wrote that 首 in 部首 means “chief.” However, to avoid possible, we’ve modified the text to say 首 as used in 部首 means “chief (head/neck)”. Thank you for pointing it out.

  11. Maddy

    Hi! I am a high-school student who has been studying Japanese Language for almost 6 years but I only started learning Kanji about 3 years ago. I found this site very helpful and have shared it with my teacher. She also found it to be very accurate and helpful. Thank you for expanding my understanding of Kanji Radicals!

  12. Lucija

    I’m just starting to learn kanji and this seems really useful.
    I just have one question…What exactly are kanji radical readings? I understand that kanji have Kun’yomi and On’yomi readings, but what about radicals?

    1. Kanji alive

      Radicals don’t have readings like kanji (please re-read the introduction to the 214 traditional radicals page). Learn their common names (nicknames) in hiragana so you can refer to them as well as their meanings, positions and stroke numbers so that you can recognize them in kanji.

  13. Pamela

    I am a Nigerian Otaku who is fascinated by Japan. And I want to watch my anime without having to read the subtitles, i mean the english dubbed versions are annoying in a way. Thank you for this Radicals, it is easy to understand.

  14. Cordero

    I noticed there are two radicals for “retainer” [しん], but they look exactly the same to me. However, one is said to be 6 strokes long and the other is 7 strokes long. I don’t see a way of writing this radical with just 6 strokes, though.

    1. Kanji alive

      Hi Cordero, you are right that there is no difference, visually, between the two. The old (Tenshotai) form of this radical originally required 6 strokes to complete. Later, in Japan, the radical came to be drawn with 7 strokes. Since we wanted to offer a full list of all radicals and variants we included both versions. You can see the difference between drawing 臣 with 6 or with 7 strokes on its Wiktionary page:臣

      1. Cordero

        Thank you very much. I’ll ckeck it out. This site is amazing, by the way; I’ve been visiting it from a couple of months now, and I find your web application really useful. Congratulations for such a great job.

  15. Kumori Neko

    First off, lemme say thank u very much for your effort in making this list. I find it to be very conclusive and helpful and this is exactly what I was looking for :D but i do have a question though. Sometimes the readings are different from what i know, for example child you put read as ni, but when i type that hiragana in my keyboard the radical doesn’t show up. But if i type the hiragana kodomo, the radical does show up. I noticed this for a few of the radicals. How does this work? Thank u in advance :)

    1. Harumi Lory

      Dear Kumori Neko san,

      Thank you very much for your email. I am glad to hear that Kanji alive is helpful for your study.

      To response to your email, I would like to ask you some questions. Are you talking about the radical 子? Its Japanese name is “こ (ko)”, not “に (ni)”. When the radical is used on the left side of a kanji, its Japanese name is “こへん (kohen)”. Please go to and search for “child” using the search field at the top right of the table to see both forms.

      You wrote, “But if ​I ​type the hiragana kodomo​, the radical does show up.” ​Did you type “こども” in the search field on​ ​ If ​you did type​ こども there, then there should not appear any result, because it is not ​correct​. How did you look for the radical 子​ (こ)​?

      こども (the word for “child”) ​​​is written with two kanji: 子供. Whether it is a radical or a kanji, ​whenever ​子 ​is used by itself, it is pronounced ​”こ (ko)” only​. ​

      It is true that there are several different Japanese names for each radical. In Kanji alive, the Japanese names for the radicals are based on 『講談社カラー版日本語大辞典』(第一版)1989, 講談社. Please see the references at the bottom of our 214 radicals web page:

      References: The English meanings of each radical in Kanji alive are based on Kanji & Kana by Wolfgang Hadamitzky & Mark Spahn, (1981), Tuttle Publishing with additional reference to Basic Kanji by Matsuo Soga & Michio Yusa (1989), Taishūkan, and Andrew N. Nelson, The Original Modern Reader’s Japanese-English Character Dictionary: Classic Edition, 2nd. ed. (1974), Tuttle Publishing. The Japanese names for the radicals are based on『講談社カラー版日本語大辞典』(第一版)1989, 講談社.

      If you have any more questions, please feel free to email us any time.

      Harumi Lory
      Kanji alive team

  16. Emma

    Is it important to know which of the seven categories a kanji radical belongs to? Should i memorize the seven categories and which kanji go in which categories? Im just starting to learn kanji. thank you!

    1. Kanji alive

      Dear Emma,

      Thank you very much for your email.

      It is helpful to know the seven main groups according to their position within a kanji but you don’t need to memorize them. When you memorize each kanji, it is more important to learn what radical is used for each kanji. And please use the Hint to help you memorize how the kanji is composed.

      If you have any more questions, please email us any time.

      Harumi Lory
      Kanji alive team

      ps. The next version of Kanji alive will allow you to search for kanji by the type of position of their radicals.

  17. James

    Hi, I am a novice so please forgive me if this is a dumb question, but I cannot seem to find the following Radicals in your list:



    and maybe others. These radicals appear in Jisho’s list of radicals ( Just wondering why that is.

    1. Kanji alive

      Dear James,

      Thank you for your email.

      We listed the 214 radicals based on the Kangxi Dictionary According to the Kangxi Dictionary, 九、マ、乃、亡、也、及 are not radicals. That’s why you can’t find them in Kanji alive.

      On,, 九、マ、乃、亡、也、及 are listed as radicals under “Kanji radicals not recognized by Kangxi”. However, they are not taught as radicals in Japanese schools and many Japanese kanji dictionaries don’t list them as radicals.

      In fact, 九、マ、乃、亡、也、及 have their own radicals according to the Kangxi Dictionary.
      The radical of 九 is (otsu).
      The radical of 乃 is 丿(no).
      The radical of 亡 is (nabebuta).
      The radical of 也 is 乚 (otsu).
      The radical of 及 is (mata).
      マ is a Katakana. It should be ム (mu) as a radical.

      I think it would be better to learn the basic 214 radicals based on the Kangxi Dictionary for your study.

      If you have any more questions, please email us again.

      Best regards,
      Harumi Lory
      Kanji alive team

      1. iji

        Is there a reason why there are two radicals not marked as variants: ⺇ (kazekanmuri) and ⺍ (katakana tsu)? This raises the number of radicals to 216.

        1. Arno Bosse Post author

          ⺇ (kazekanmuri) is a variant of ⼏ (kinyou, table) which we neglected to note in our table. Thank you for drawing this to our attention! It’s been corrected on the radicals page. ⺍ (katakana tsu) is a newly added radical which is why it isn’t included in the traditional list of 214 Kangxi radicals.


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