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. There are 214 historical radicals derived from the 18th century Kangxi dictionary. Almost no-one uses all 214 but you will soon become familiar with the most frequently used radicals and their variants.

These are the seven representative categories of radicals according to their position within a kanji character:

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

For most of the more common radicals we have indicated their position within a kanji character in the full list of radicals in the table below. The radicals in this list 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. 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.

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

Tip: You can also use the table’s search field to search/filter radicals by position. Use the radical positions table at the top of this page 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 reveals its Japanese name.

Tip: Many of the radicals shown on this list can’t be displayed with the Japanese fonts available on Windows, OS X or Linux such as Meiryo, Hiragino or M-plus. For this reason we created Japanese Radicals, a custom font with 60 extra glyphs which offers full support for all Japanese radicals and variants. The font is freely available for private or commericial use.

Stroke#
Radical
Position
Meaning
Reading
Notes
Importance
1one, horizontal strokeいち
1vertical strokeたてぼう
1dotてん
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
2two
2かんむり Radical on the toplid, topなべぶたImportant
2personひと
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
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
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
2powerちから
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
2tenじゅう
2oracleぼく
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
3mouthくち
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
3earthつち
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
3eveningゆうべ
3large, bigだい
3womanおんな
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)
3smallしょう
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
3sproutくさのめ
3mountainやま
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)
3selfおのれ
3clothはば
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
3javelinいぐるみ
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
4door
4たれ Radical which ‘hangs down’doorとだれa variant of ⼾(と)
4⼿hand
4branchしにょう
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)
4notむにょう
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
4hair
4family, clanうじ
4きがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjisteam, airきがまえ
4waterみず
4fire
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)
4fatherちち
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
4cowうし
4へん Radical on the leftcowうしへんa variant of ⽜(うし)
4dogいぬ
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)
5darknessげん
5jewelryたま
5melonうり
5tileかわら
5sweetあまい
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
5whiteしろ
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
5eye
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)
5halberdほこ
5へん Radical on the lefthalberdほこへんa variant of ⽭(ほこ)
5arrow
5へん Radical on the leftarrowやへんa variant of ⽮(や)
5stoneいし
5へん Radical on the leftstoneいしへんa variant of ⽯(いし)
5altar, festival, religious serviceしめす
5footprintじゅうのあし
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)
6bambooたけ
6かんむり Radical on the topbambooたけかんむりa variant of ⽵(たけ)Important
6riceこめ
6へん Radical on the leftriceこめへんa variant of ⽶(こめ)Important
6threadいと
6へん Radical on the leftthreadいとへんa variant of ⽷(いと)Important
6earthen jarみずがめ
6netあみめ
6sheepひつじ
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⽿earみみ
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
6selfみずから
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
6tongueした
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)
6boundaryこん
6colorいろ
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
6blood
6ぎょうがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjito goぎょうがまえImportant
6clothingころも
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
7valleyたに
7へん Radical on the leftvalleyたにへんa variant of ⾕(たに)
7beanまめ
7へん Radical on the leftbeanまめへんa variant of ⾖(まめ)
7pigいのこ
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
7redあか
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
7body
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
7bitterからい
7Fifth zodiac sign, 7–9 A.M.しんのたつ
7to advance, move aheadしんにょう
7communityむら
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
8longながい
8もんがまえ Radical which encloses the kanjigate, doorもんがまえImportant
8hillこざと
8つくり Radical on the rightto captureれいづくり
8small birdふるとり
8rainあめ
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
9leatherつくりがわ
9leatherなめしがわ
9leekにら
9sound, noiseおと
9つくり Radical on the righthead, pageおおがいImportant
9windかぜ
9to flyとぶ
9food, to eatしょく
9headくび
9scentかおり
10horseうま
10へん Radical on the lefthorseうまへんa variant of ⾺(うま)
10boneほね
10へん Radical on the leftboneほねへんa variant of ⾻(ほね)
10highたかい
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
10⾿herbsにおいざけ
10tripodれき
10demonおに
10leatherなめしがわa variant of (なめしがわ)
11fishうお
11へん Radical on the leftfishうおへんa variant of ⿂(うお)Important
11birdとり
11saltしお
11deerしか
11wheatむぎ
11hempあさ
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)
12yellow
12milletきび
12blackくろ
12embroiderぬいとり
12tootha variant of ⿒(は)
13frogかえる
13tripodかなえ
13drumつづみ
13rat, mouseねずみ
14noseはな
14alikeせい
15tooth
16dragonりゅう
16turtleかめ
17fluteやく

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11 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

    Reply
    1. admin

      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.

      Reply
      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?

        Reply
        1. admin

          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.

          Reply
          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. :)

    Reply
    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!

      Reply
      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?

        Reply
        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?

          Reply
          1. Kanji alive 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.

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