The 214 traditional kanji radicals

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.

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 かまえ
radical enclosed position かまえ
radical enclosed position かまえ
radical enclosed position かまえ
radical enclosed position かまえ
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 several of the more common radicals we have indicated their position within a kanji character in the full list of 214 kanji 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 via the “Search” field at the top of the table.

Note: In the Kanji alive 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).

If you prefer to study from a printed reference or cheat sheet, PDF versions of the 214 historical radicals are also available for download in two different styles – using either a traditional calligraphic (PDF) or a contemporary mincho (PDF) font. In addition, we encourage you to review Introduction to Kanji (PDF) which provides many illustrative examples of radicals positioned within kanji characters.

Note: The radicals listed in the historical Kangxi dictionary are not identical to those used in the Japanese language today. A summary of the differences between the radicals supported by the Kanji alive web application (http://app.kanjialive.com) and those in the Kangxi dictionary is appended at the bottom of this page.

Stroke#
Radical
Position
Meaning
Reading
一画
1one, horizontal strokeいち
1vertical strokeたてぼう
1dotてん
1丿diagonal sweeping strokeの/のかんむり
1乙 乚the secondおつ
1Vertical stroke with a hookはねぼう
二画
2two
2radical top position かんむりlid, topなべぶた/けいさんかんむり
2personひと
2radical left position へんpersonにんべん
2𠆢radical top position かんむりpersonひとやね/ひとがしら
2radical bottom position あしhuman legsひとあし/にんにょう
2to enterいる/いりがしら
2radical top position かんむりeightはち/はちがしら
2radical enclosed position かまえto encloseけいがまえ/まきがまえ
2radical top position かんむりcover, crownわかんむり
2radical left position へんiceにすい
2radical right position つくりtableきにょう/つくえ
2𠘨radical top position かんむりwindかぜ/かぜかんむり
2radical bottom position あしcontainer, open boxかんにょう/うけばこ
2knife, swordかたな
2radical right position つくりknife, swordりっとう
2powerちから/りきづくり
2radical enclosed position かまえto wrapつつみがまえ
2spoonさじ/ひ
2radical enclosed position かまえboxはこがまえ
2radical enclosed position かまえto conceal, hideかくしがまえ
2tenじゅう
2radical right position つくりoracleぼく
2radical right position つくりstamp, sealふしづくり/わりふ
2radical top-left position たれcliffがんだれ
2private, Katakana Mu
2again, right handまた
三画
3囗 口mouthくち/くちへん
3radical enclosed position かまえborder, territorial boundariesくにがまえ
3earthつち/つちへん
3man, scholar, samuraiさむらい/さむらいかんむり
3radical bottom position あしto followのまた/のまたかんむり
3radical bottom position あしto go slowlyなつあし/すいにょう
3eveningゆうべ/ゆう
3large, bigだい/だいがしら
3womanおんな/おんなへん
3child, sonこ/こへん
3radical top position かんむりroof, houseうかんむり
3inch, (2.25 cm)すん/すんづくり
3smallしょう/しょうかんむり
3lame legだいのまげあし
3radical top position かんむりcorpse, awningしかばね/しかばねかんむり
3sproutくさのめ/てつ
3mountainやま/やまへん/やまかんむり
3winding riverまがりがわ
3riverさんぼんがわ
3work, carpenter, skillたくみ/たくみへん/こう
3selfおのれ
3clothはば/はばへん
3to dry, shieldかん/いちじゅう
3young, slightいとがしら/よう
3广radical top-left position たれslanting roofまだれ
3radical bottom-left position にょうto move, stretchえんにょう/いんにょう
3radical bottom position あしfolded handsにじゅうあし/きょう
3javelinいぐるみ/しきがまえ
3bow (in archery)ゆみ/ゆみへん
3彐 ⺕ 彑pig’s headけい/けいがしら
3radical right position つくりhair-style, light raysさんづくり/けかざり
3radical left position へんstep, stride, street, to goぎょうにんべん
3radical top position かんむりgrassくさかんむり/そうこう
3radical bottom-left position にょうroad, walk, to advanceしんにょう/しんにゅう
3radical right position つくりvillage, country, cityおおざと  (on the right)
3radical left position へんhill, moundこざとへん (on the left)
四画
4heart, mind, spiritこころ
4radical left position へんheart, mind, spiritりっしんべん
4radical bottom position あしheart, mind, spiritしたごころ
4spear, weaponほこ/ほこがまえ
4doorと/とだれ/とかんむり
4手 扌radical left position へんhandて/てへん
4branchしにょう/えだにょう
4radical right position つくりactivity, to strike, hitぼくづくり/ぼくにょう
4literature, lettersぶん/ぶんにょう
4radical right position つくりbig dipper, ladle, 18.039 litersますづくり/とます
4radical right position つくりaxおのづくり
4direction, flagほう/ほうへん/かたへん
4notむ/むにょう/なし
4sun, day, timeひ/ひへん/にちへん
4to sayひらび/いわく
4moon, month, periodつき/つきへん
4meat, fleshにくづき
4tree, woodき/きへん
4to lack, yawnあくび/けんづくり
4to stopとめる
4death & dying, to decomposeがつ/がつへん/かばねへん
4radical right position つくりlance shaft, actionるまた/ほこづくり
4not, motherなかれ/ははのかん
4to compareくらべる/ならびひ
4hair
4family, clanうじ
4radical enclosed position かまえsteam, airきがまえ
4waterみず
4radical left position へんwaterさんずい
4waterしたみず
4fireひ/ひへん
4radical bottom position あしfireれっか/れんが
4claw, nailつめ/そうにょう
4爫 爫radical top position かんむりclaw, nailつめかんむり/つめがしら
4fatherちち
4to mixこう
4radical left position へんsplit woodしょうへん (on the left)
4split woodかた/かたへん
4fang, canine toothきば/きばへん
4cowうし/うしへん
4dogいぬ
4radical left position へんbeastけものへん
五画
5darknessげん
5jewelryたま
5radical left position へんjewelry, jeweled kingおうへん/たまへん
5melonうり
5tileかわら
5sweetあまい/かん
5birth, to be born, liveうまれる/せい
5to useもちいる/よう
5rice paddyた/たへん
5roll of clothひき
5radical top-left position たれsicknessやまいだれ
5radical top position かんむりoutspread legs, departureはつがしら
5whiteしろ/はくへん
5skin, hideけがわ/ひのかわ
5radical bottom position あしplate, bowlさら
5eyeめ/めへん
5radical top position かんむりeyeよこめ
5halberdほこ/ほこへん
5arrowや/やへん
5stoneいし/いしへん
5示 礻altar, festival , religious serviceしめす/しめすへん
5footprintじゅうのあし
5radical left position へんgrainのぎへん
5hole, caveあな/あなかんむり
5to standたつ/たつへん
六画
6bambooたけ/たけかんむり
6riceこめ/こめへん
6threadいと/いとへん
6earthen jarみずがめ/ほとぎ
6罒 𦉰 㓁radical top position かんむりnetあみがしら/あみめ
6羊 𦍌sheepひつじ/ひつじへん
6feather, wingはね
6老 耂radical top position かんむりold, old-ageおいかんむり/おいがしら
6and alsoしこうして
6plowらいすき/すきへん
6earみみ/みみへん
6writing brushふでづくり/いつ
6flesh, meatにく
6retainer, ministerしん/おみ
6selfみずから
6to arrive, reachいたる/いたるへん
6mortar, quernうす
6tongueした
6radical bottom position あしcontrary, to errまいあし
6ship, boatふね/ふねへん
6boundaryこん/こんづくり
6colorいろ
6grass, plantくさ
6tigerとらがしら/とらかんむり
6worm, insect, bugむし/むしへん
6blood
6radical enclosed position かまえto goぎょうがまえ/ゆきがまえ
6clothingころも
6radical left position へんclothingころもへん
6cover, westにし/あがしら
七画
7to seeみる
7horn, cornerつの/つのへん
7radical left position へんwords, to speak, sayごんべん/げん
7valleyたに/たにへん
7beanまめ/まめへん
7pigいのこ/いのこへん
7radical left position へんbadger, reptileむじなへん
7shell, property, wealthかい/かいへん
7redあか
7to runはしる/そうにょう
7足 𧾷foot, legあし/あしへん
7bodyみ/みへん
7vehicle, wheel, carくるま/くるまへん
7bitterからい/しん
7(fifth zodiac sign), 7 – 9 A.M.しんのたつ
7to advance, move aheadしんにょう/しんにゅう
7communityむら
7radical left position へんsake jar, birdひよみのとり/とりへん
7radical left position へんto separateのごめへん
7village, (3.93 km)さと/さとへん
八画
8metal, gold, mineralかね/かねへん
8longながい
8radical enclosed position かまえgate, doorもんがまえ
8hillこざと/おか
8to captureれいづくり
8small birdふるとり
8rainあめ/あめかんむり
8blue, greenあお
8wrong, non-あらず
九画
9face, surfaceめん
9leatherつくりがわ/かくのかわ
9leatherなめしがわ
9leekにら
9sound, noiseおと
9radical right position つくりhead, pageおおがい
9windかぜ
9to flyとぶ
9食 飠food, to eatしょく/しょくへん
9headくび
9scentかおり
十画
10horseうま/うまへん
10boneほね/ほねへん
10highたかい
10long hairかみかんむり/かみがしら
10fightingたたかいがまえ/とうがまえ
10herbsにおいざけ/ちょう
10tripodれき/かなえ
10demonおに/きにょう
十一画
11fishうお/うおへん/さかなへん
11birdとり/とりづくり
11saltしお
11鹿deerしか
11wheatむぎ/ばくにょう
11hempあさ/あさかんむり
十二画
12yellow
12milletきび
12blackくろ
12embroiderぬいとり
十三画
13frogかえる/べんあし
13tripodかなえ
13drumつづみ
13rat, mouseねずみ
十四画
14noseはな
14齊 斉alikeせい
十五画
15tooth
十六画
16dragonりゅう
16turtleかめ
十七画
17fluteやく

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Differences to the Kangxi dictionary kanji radicals

In the following cases, the stroke numbers for kanji radicals in Kanji alive differ from their older, traditional use in the Kangxi dictionary. In addition, the katakana つ (tsu) is not found in the Kangxi dictionary.

RadicalMeaningReadingStroke # in KangxiStroke # in Kanji alive
Katakana "tsu"n/a3
heart, mind, spiritりっしんべん43
handてへん43
waterしたみず45
waterさんずい43
beastけものへん43
jewelry, jeweled kingおうへん54
altar, festival しめすへん54
old, old-ageおいかんむり64
netあみがしら65
clothingころもへん65
contrary, to err まいあし67
food, to eatしょくへん98

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9 thoughts on “The 214 traditional kanji radicals

  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

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