spicy; bitter; dry taste; salty; severe; painful; "bitter" radical
Kanji 1432

Thank you for visiting this Character Home Page. Below you'll find a synopsis of the essay. If you wish to read the full text, the PDF of the essay is available for purchase to the right.


This essay will make your mouth and eyes water! You'll encounter words for "spicy," "salty," and "mustard," plus a regional dish with shiso leaves rolled around chili peppers. You’ll learn to order dry saké or vodka diluted with tomato juice. This essay even shows how to make kanji sandwiches with the 辛 radical. Good times! Oh, and it explores bitterness about life's hardships! 

Revision history:

May 26, 2022: p. 13: Added pronunciations of the "bitter" radical 辛.

May 23, 2022: 

  • p. 3, sidebar: I had erroneously referred to 唐辛子 as “Chinese mustard.” I have now deleted the 唐 in that word; 辛子 is Chinese-style mustard.
  • p. 8, sidebar: Changed the breakdown of 辛辣 to “bitter + severe.”

Apr. 25, 2022: p. 13: Deleted a stray mark.

June 22, 2021: p. 1: Deleted a stray punctuation mark.

Dec. 13, 2019: 

  • p. 1: Updated definitions of various kanji in the Character Profile box.
  • p. 2: Etymology Box: Replaced the old Henshall etymology with the new one. 
  • pp. 6, 10, and 13: Deleted broken links, then rewrote surrounding text.
  • p. 12: Added a bit of text to explain the role of 辛 in the sexagenary cycle of naming years.
  • p. 13, sidebar: Defined 辣 as "spicy," not "bitter," and then deleted etymological analysis that appeared in Henshall's older edition but not his newer one.
  • p. 13: (a) Updated the definitions of Joyo kanji containing 辛 and provided new etymologies for 辞 and 辣 from the newer edition of Henshall. (b) Added a link to the Kanshudo games.
  • p. 14: Answer to the Verbal Logic Quiz, the 2nd sample sentence: I deleted "a little" from the translation.
  • p. 16: Salad picture caption: (a) Changed the comments about 冷麺 to match the discussion of that dish in essay 2118. (b) Changed the definition of パプリカ to "bell pepper."

Nov. 21, 2014: Added a missing hyphen on p. 10.

Apr. 25, 2014: Changed the definition of a word in the p. 11 sidebar. It now says "解く (とく: to solve, shown here in the past tense of its potential form)."

Sept. 19, 2012: Added 6 photos to pp. 16–18. Also fixed photos on pp. 3 and 5, as they had become unfocused in the June 3 edition. 

June 3, 2012: Added a photo to p. 15.


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RADICAL辛 (160: bitter)