Radical Notes are FREE (yippee!) and are intended to complement the essays. Each Radical Note focuses on a particular radical, examining its Japanese and English names, variations on its shape, its positions in a kanji, and characters that contain it. 

If the term "radical" is unclear to you, see the next-to-last section of the glossary, as well as Radical Terms.

In the index below, you'll notice that every radical has a number. This numbering system has nothing to do with the Henshall numbers for each kanji. For instance, 心 (heart) is radical 61 and is kanji number 147. The radical numbers correspond to the 214 historical radicals in the Kangxi Dictionary of China. Nelson, Halpern, and Denshi Jisho also use this radical numbering system.

Radical Notes have loose structures; you never know just where the discussions will go. In some cases, such as Radical Note 5, the text is quite brief, pointing you to an essay. That's because the end of that essay is tantamount to a Radical Note. In many other instances, such as Radical Note 140, you'll find a sizable chunk of writing.

The library of Radical Notes is now complete, but you won't find 214 Radical Notes below. I wrote almost exclusively about the radicals on duty in each Joyo kanji. I did, however, make two exceptions by writing Radical Note 90 on 爿 ("split wood (left half)") and Radical Note 97 on 瓜 ("melon"). I did so because seven of Ulrike's Mnemonics mention those radicals, and it seemed incomplete not to link those references to something.

Incidentally, if you fall in love with radicals (a natural occurrence!) and want the world to know about your passion, you're in luck. Check out the Peacenik Puppy shirt on the Kaimono page!

Radical Notes

1. The "One" Radical: 一

Find out when to spot this radical in a kanji (rarely) and when not to (the majority of the time). Also see when it actually means "one" in an etymology, as it does for 与 (1873: to give).

2. The "Rod" Radical: |

Find out how the radical conveys no meaning whatsoever in the Joyo kanji in which it plays the most important role—namely, 中 (55: middle) and (1993: skewer)—and enjoy signs that treat these shapes playfully.

3. The "Dot" Radical: 丶

See how small dots transform kanji such as 主 (299: to preside over), 丸 (830: round), and (2083: bowl).

4. The "Katakana No" Radical: 丿

Learn to locate the 丿 radical in 乗 (320: to ride) and 乏 (1805: shortage), and see how the etymology of (1148: to reach) sounds like an ancient game of Twister.

5. The "Fishhook" Radical: 乙 and 乚

Essay 1041 on 乙 (second (in order or quality); "fishhook" radical) covers this radical and its variant, 乚, showing how radical 5 unexpectedly appears in 乾 (1099: dry) and 乳 (951: breasts, milk). This shape even plays a significant role in one character that represents a number!

6. The "Barb" Radical: 亅

Find out what 事 (293: thing), 予 (403: beforehand), and 了 (1905: completion) have in common that landed them in the same radical category. Hint: nothing! And see how radical 6 relates to radical 2. 

7. The "Two" Radical: 二

Learn about this "radical of convenience," one that creates a category for misfits such as 五 (19: five) and  (1470well; town), simply on the basis of their having parallel lines.

8. The "Lid" Radical: 亠

In addition to  (99: capital; Tokyo; Kyoto) and 交 (115: association; exchange; cross; to blend; deliver; by turns), three Joyo kanji have been filed under this category. Find out what they are, what the various Japanese radical names mean, and which radicals seem to contain the 亠 shape.

9. The "Person" Radical: 人, 亻, and the Top of 介

Find out about the radical populating kanji such as 仙 (1490: mythical being, wizard, fairy; hermit), 以 (419: -ward; by means of), and 介 (1059: to mediate).

10. The "Legs" Radical: 儿

Find out about the names and meanings of the radical in kanji such as 先 (49: ahead), 元 (106: origin), and 光 (116: light), and see how 儿 has nothing to do with legs etymologically. 

11. The "Enter" Radical: 入

It’s not at all surprising that 入 is the on-duty radical in 入 (63: to enter), but it’s unexpected that 入 used to be in more characters and has since vanished from them! 

12. The "Eight" Radical: 八

See why 公 (277: public) and 兼 (850: concurrent) stand out from all kanji with an on-duty 八 radical—and how one of those two characters turns the radical on its head.

13. The "Upside-Down Box" Radical: 冂

Find out about the radical framing kanji such as 円 (4: circle) and 内 (364: inside), and investigate which radicals resemble 冂.

14. The "Katakana Wa" Radical: 冖

Find out about the 冖 radical in kanji such as 写 (297: photograph) and 冠 (1097: crown), and see how this ultra-simple contemporary shape used to look.

15. The "Ice" Radical: 冫

See why 冬 (182: winter) stands out among the Joyo kanji featuring the "ice" radical, and find out why this radical would be in  (2040: amazing) and  (2119: to work metals). Also enjoy pictures of ice sculptures from the Sapporo Snow Festival!

16. The "Table" Radical: 几

Find out about the radical in 処 (896: to deal with) and 凡 (1827: mediocre), and see how a table could have a connection to the wind.

17. The "Open Box" Radical: 凵

Learn to distinguish this radical from others with similar shapes or names, and find out why 凵 is bad news, as in 凶 (1159: bad luck; atrocious).

18. The "Sword" Radical: 刀, 刂, and 刁

Find the swords tucked inside ultra-common kanji such as 前 (159: before) and 別 (579: separate; another).

19. The "Strong" Radical: 力

Find out about the radical that strengthens common kanji such as 動 (362: to move) and 勉 (390: effort; exertion; study). Also discover a pattern governing 15 of the 23 Joyo characters that feature 力 as an on-duty radical.

20. The "Wrapping" Radical: 勹

Find out about the radical in such disparate kanji as 包 (583: to wrap), (1953: hook), and (2089: scent), and see what the 勹 surrounds.

21. The "Katakana Hi" Radical: 匕

The radical of 北 (205: north; to flee) may look simple, but both the meaning and shape of 匕 are rather slippery.

22. The "Box on Side" Radical: 匚

Find out about a radical that looks like several others. What's more, this radical always appears in sets of look-alike kanji, such as 医 (225: medicine) and 矢 (981: arrow), establishing an unusual pattern.

23. The "Hiding" Radical: 匸

This brief note redirects you to Radical Note 22 on 匚 and explains why. 

24. The "Cross" Radical: 十 and ナ

Learn to spot the "cross" radical in certain characters, such as 午 (110: afternoon) and 半 (195: half). Also learn when not to see crosses, even though it's tempting to do so.

25. The "Katakana To" Radical: 卜

Find out how (1491: to possess), the only Joyo kanji classified under radical 25, features a variant form of the radical!

26. The "Seal" Radical: 卩

See what 卵 (990: egg) depicts, discover which character represents a person kneeling to expel demons, and learn how 印 (425: to imprint) connects to the radical name.

27. The "Cliff" Radical: 厂

Find out about a radical that may seem ubiquitous but is on duty in just five Joyo kanji, including 原 (107: field) and 厚 (672: thick).

28. The "Katakana Mu" Radical: 厶

Find out about a radical with no fixed meaning, a shape that has helped people represent whatever they needed to depict in the moment.

29. The "Again" Radical: 又

Essay 1835 on 又 (again; "again" radical) tells you all about the radical that appears in the familiar kanji 友 (214: friend), 取 (301: to take), and 受 (303: to receive).

30. The "Mouth" Radical: 口

See when the "mouth" radical actually means "mouth" in a kanji, as in 名 (71: name) and 品 (382: item), and find out when this square represents something as unexpected as a circle! Also learn not to confuse this radical with many others containing squares.

31. The "Enclosure" Radical: 囗

See what distinguishes this square radical from the other boxy one, and discover a fun pattern involving kanji such as 国 (123: country) and 囲 (422: to encircle).

32. The "Earth" Radical: 土

Dig a little to find the difference between this radical and one look-alike radical. Examine the meaning of 圭, which gives you double the dirt. And find out when you shouldn't identify 土 as the radical because that shape is actually part of a larger radical.

33. The "Samurai" Radical: 士

Discover several mysteries swirling around 士 (494: military man; samurai) and what body part that shape might represent. Also see photos showing how the Japanese use that kanji most.

34. The "Winter" Radical: 夂

See all the ways in which the radical in 変 (581: change) and 夏 (82: summer) subverts expectations!

35. The "Go Slowly" Radical: 夊

This brief note redirects you to Radical Note 34 on 夂 and explains why. 

36. The "Evening" Radical: 夕

Find out what 外 (91: outside), 多 (163: many), and 夜 (212: night) have in common and how they connect to the 夕 radical inside them.

37. The "Big" Radical: 大

See why the "big" radical 大 is in kanji such as 天 (58: sky), 夫 (573: husband), and (1825: rush), and learn what to call this radical in its various positions.

38. The "Woman" Radical: 女

Does the 女 radical contribute an inherently negative meaning to characters? Find out by looking at kanji such as 好 (859: to like; good) and 婚 (1278: marriage; wedding) on the one hand and examples such as 嫌 (1218: to dislike; aversion) on the other.

39. The "Child" Radical: 子

It's obvious why the "child" radical 子 would play a part in 孝 (860: filial piety) and 孫 (538: grandchild) etymologically, but how did children get inside 学 (10: study), 字 (28: character), and (1229: solitary)? Read to find out!

40. The "Katakana U" Radical: 宀

See when this radical crowns kanji, such as 寒 (245: cold) and 定 (351: to decide), and find out when it instead pops up in the middle of a character. Learn which other radicals resemble this one. And find out what 宀 represents in six kanji.

41. The "Inch" Radical: 寸

If 寸 represents a Japanese inch, what is it doing in 寺 (133: Buddhist temple)? The etymology is illuminating, as is that of 導 (759: to guide).

42. The "Little" Radical: 小

Find out how 小 (36: small) relates to 少 (143: small quantity), and see how 小 can be the radical in 当 (183: to hit the mark).

43. The "Crooked Big" Radical: 尢

The Japanese perceive 尢 and 冘 as significantly different. Do you?! Find out more about the thinking and the kanji in which each shape appears. 

44. The "Corpse" Radical: 尸

The "corpse" radical 尸 has a wide array of meanings, including "corpse" (of course!), "slumped figure," "buttocks," "relaxing" (maybe), and even possibly "roof." That corpse really gets around!

45. The "Old Grass" Radical: 屮

Find out what 屮 depicts and see how the grass in this radical isn’t actually old! 

46. The "Mountain" Radical: 山

If you've ever wondered how to move mountains, just look to the "mountain" radical 山 to see how it's done! This radical shifts to the left in  (1799: peak, mountaintop; ridge), the top in 岸 (248: beach), and the bottom in (1082: mountain), changing its Japanese name as it goes. 

47. The "River" Radical: 川

See why the Japanese need to emphasize that 川 is a “three-stroke river,” and discover what happens when that river is bent out of shape. 

48. The "Katakana E" Radical: 工

This simple-looking radical pops up in such common kanji as 左 (22: left) and 差 (482: difference), as well as 工 (113: manufacturing) itself, but the 工 radical isn’t nearly as straightforward as it appears. Find out what complications it causes.

49. The "Oneself" Radical: 己

Find out about a shape-shifting radical with multiple connections to the Heavenly Stems system.

50. The "Cloth" Radical: 巾

Essay 1989 on 巾 (cloth; "cloth" radical) tells you all about this radical, which inserts itself into scads of kanji, including some of the first you ever learned: 市 (130: city; market) and 席 (520: seat). 

51. The "Dry" Radical: 干

Find out about the radical that is etymologically nowhere to be found in kanji such as 年 (64: year), 平 (388: flat), and 幹 (637: trunk).

52. The "Short Thread" Radical: 幺

Find out how 幺 doesn't mean "short thread" in any of the Joyo kanji in which it is the on-duty radical, including 幾 (1129: how many) and (1226: phantom). Also see how this radical does confer that meaning on two kanji in which the look-alike 玄 is the radical!

53. The "Dotted Cliff" Radical: 广

Find out what in the world a "dotted cliff" could be, and see what 广 actually represents in kanji, including 庭 (352: yard) and 底 (549: bottom).

54. The "Long Stride" Radical: 廴

See how the radical on duty in such kanji as 建 (473: to build) and 延 (814: to extend) was never meant to be there at all! 

55. The "Letter H" Radical: 廾

You've likely seen this radical in the first kanji in 弁当 (べんとう: bento). Find out what it means there and in kanji such as 算 (128: calculation) and 戒 (1060: caution). Hint: It doesn't really have anything to do with the letter H!

56. The "Ceremony" Radical: 弋

Find out why 弋 is called the “ceremony” radical even though the shape symbolizes a hunting tool or piece of wood! And learn how to use this radical to represent three numbers!

57. The "Bow" Radical: 弓

Find out why the symbol for an archery bow lies inside 弱 (138: weak) and 弟 (177: younger brother), among several other Joyo kanji. 

58. The "Katakana Yo" Radical: 彐, ヨ, ⺕, and 彑

So you think you know the differences between a katakana, a pig's head, and a hand? They look more similar than you may realize! Find out about a shape common to kanji such as 書 (142: writing), 事 (293: thing), and 健 (474: health), and see what it really means.

59. The "Short Hair" Radical: 彡

Why would there be hair inside such kanji as 形 (104: shape), 影 (1017: shadow), and 彫 (1590: to carve)? Actually, perhaps there isn't! See what the three slashes of 彡 truly represent!

60. The "Going Person" Radical: 彳

See how the "going person" radical 彳actually brings things to a halt! Learn what sets it apart from two similar radicals. And discover what 彳 is doing in common kanji such as 後 (111: after), 待 (337: to wait), 役 (397: role), and 彼 (1725: he).

61. The "Heart" Radical: 心, the Bottom of 慕, and 忄

Learn about the radical that makes 必 (568: certain), 添 (1631: to accompany), and 懐 (1067: to become attached to) pulse with life.

62. The "Tasseled Spear" Radical: 戈

Learn to recognize three styles of halberds, each representing our radical at various stages of evolution! And see why there’s a weapon at the heart of 我 (817: I), 戯 (1138: play), and 戚 (2043: relatives), as well as in more likely characters, such as 戦 (526: war).

63. The "Door" Radical: 戸

Find out what a door would be doing in characters such as 所 (312: place),  (1492: fan), and  (1920: to return). See what's behind those doors!

64. The "Hand" Radical: 手 and 扌

Hands are involved in all aspects of life. So it is with many kanji. Find out how 挙 (458: to nominate) and 推 (908: conjecture, infer, conclude) have unexpected connections to hands, as does the word 抹茶 (まっちゃ: powdered green tea).

65. The "Branch" Radical: 支

See what 支 symbolizes and what it contributes to characters in which it’s a mere component, such as 技 (644: skill), 岐 (1121: divergence), and (1317: limb).

66. The "Strike" Radical: 攴 and 攵

See why the “strike” radical is in 教 (101: teaching; religion)—yes, it will confirm your worst fears—and find out why you recognize the variant form of this radical but perhaps not the main rendering.

67. The "Literature" Radical: 文

Find out about a shape common to both 対 (336: opposite; to oppose) and 蚊 (1056: mosquito), and see why this radical would be tucked inside 斑 (2098: spot). Hint: 文 hasn't always meant "character"!

68. The "Dots and Cross" Radical: 斗

Essay 1633 on 斗 (dipper; "dots and cross" radical) covers this radical, without which we couldn't write great-looking words such as 科料 (かりょう: minor fine).

69. The "Ax" Radical: 斤

See essay 1176 on 斤 (loaf (of bread); "ax" radical) to find out about the "ax" inside all that's new (新: 148) and in near (近: 103) places (所: 312), though it's just a component in the last two instances.

70. The "Direction" Radical: 方

See how the radical in kanji such as 族 (333: family) and 旅 (410: travel) defies all expectations in terms of both meaning and shape.

71. The "Crooked Heaven" Radical: 无 and 旡

Find out about the radical inside 既 (1126: already), learning how that radical connects to both nothingness and heaven.

72. The "Sun" Radical: 日

The 日 radical is on duty in scads of kanji. Find out when it means "sun," when it conveys the passage of time, and when it might represent "ladle" or "insect's head"!

73. The "Flat Sun" Radical: 曰

Though 日 and 曰 are dead ringers, some dictionaries treat them as different radicals. Find out what's going on with that!

74. The "Moon" Radical: 月

You'll be over the moon once you understand the differences between two radicals ("moon" and "flesh") that tend to look exactly alike. This Radical Note features two gorgeous shibori works by Glennis Dolce, so be sure not to miss them!

75. The "Tree" Radical: 木

Find out why there are trees growing in unexpected places, such as the following kanji: 末 (587: end), (1346: vermilion), and (2115: pillow).

76. The "Yawning" Radical: 欠

See how yawning connects etymologically to kanji such as 次 (292: next) and 欠 (471: lack), and find out how 欧 (1034: Europe) might convey something quite insulting.

77. The "Stopping" Radical: 止

See how the "stopping" radical has a lot to do with movement! That’s particularly true when it comes to the etymologies of characters such as 止 (129: to stop), 歩 (202: to walk), and 歴 (606: history).

78. The "Death" Radical: 歹

Find out what needed to happen to a corpse before the ancient Chinese declared someone dead! Also see what role the 歹 radical plays in kanji such as 死 (286: death), 残 (493: to remain), and (1426: to multiply).

79. The "Lance Shaft" Radical: 殳

Would you recognize 殳 as a weapon?! Well, it is. And it's no surprise to spot it in 殺 (488: to kill, murder) or 殴 (1035: to beat, hit), but what about 段 (931: step, stair) and 殻 (1075: shell)? Find out, and also learn which major magazine put the spotlight on !

80. The "Mother" Radical: 毋

Learn to make sense of the names of the radical in 母 (203: mother), 毎 (206: every), and 毒 (559: poison), and see how their etymologies involve everything from women’s private parts to harmful plants.

81. The "Comparing" Radical: 比

Find out how the radical in 比 (771: to compare) relates to the katakana ヒ and to two other radicals.

82. The "Hair" Radical: 毛

Learn about the radical in 毛 (210: hair), and discover where it exists in triplicate!

83. The "Clan" Radical: 氏

See how this radical shape-shifts in three photos featuring 民 (590: people), and learn how 氏 (495: Mr.) etymologically connects to buttocks and hills.

84. The "Steam" Radical: 气

See how the "steam" radical, which serves as the on-duty radical only in 気 (11: spirit), gives 汽 (94: steam) a shocking appearance.  

85. The "Water" Radical: 水, 氵, and 氺

We can't live without water, and neither can many kanji, including 氷 (378: ice), 活 (244: lively), and 泰 (1545: tranquil).

86. The "Fire" Radical: 火 and 灬

Is a person (者) on fire in 煮 (1338: to boil)?! Why would 点 (179: point) be ablaze? And what about the poor bear represented by  (1995)? If you’re burning with questions about the “fire” radical, check out this Radical Note! 

87. The "Claw" Radical: 爪, 爫, the Top of 受, and the Left Side of 爬

Essay 2071 on 爪 (nail, claw; "claw" radical) covers this prevalent shape, which serves as the on-duty radical in 爵 (1344: rank of nobility) and as a component in 菜 (483: vegetable), to name just two examples of places you wouldn't expect to see claws! 

88. The "Father" Radical: 父

Discover how simple fatherhood can be when it comes to 父 (197: father), and see how 父 looks with its tips curled like a Hercule Poirot mustache.

89. The "Mixing" Radical: 爻

This radical has just one Joyo kanji,  (2053: refreshing), and some sources don't even categorize 爽 under radical 89! Nor do sources agree on the Japanese name of this radical, but that makes things more interesting because the various possibilities are colorful.

90. The "Split Wood (Left Half)" Radical: 爿

Discover the kanji, such as 状 (717: shape) and 寝 (1441: sleep), in which 爿 serves as a mere component, and learn to distinguish it from radical 91.

91. The "Split Wood (Right Half)" Radical: 片

Find out why the radical on duty in 片 (969: piece) and 版 (770: publishing) bears such an unwieldy name. (Hint: It contrasts with radical 90.)

92. The "Tusk" Radical: 牙

See essay 1972 on 牙 (tusk, fang; "tusk" radical) to find out why there are tusks inside both 邪 (1340: injustice) and 芽 (434: buds). 

93. The "Cow" Radical: 牛

Find out why the “cow” radical pops up in kanji such as 物 (387: thing) and 特 (760: special), and see what connection it has to two characters meaning “sacrifice.”

94. The "Animal" Radical: 犬 and 犭

Learn why some people see a dog inside the kanji for monkey (猿) and cat (猫).  

95. The "Blackness" Radical: 玄

Essay 1227 on 玄 (mysterious; "blackness" radical) tells you all about this radical, which is on duty in 率 (803: rate, percentage) and off duty in 畜 (1577: domestic fowl and animals).

96. The "Jewel" Radical: 玉 and 王

Find out about the radical that lends roundness to kanji such as 環 (1115: ring, circle; to surround) and 珠 (1349: pearl; gem; bead) but also pops up in 理 (220: reason; basic principle) and 現 (666: actual; to appear). Also learn why this radical looks like it would mean "king" in all these characters but generally means "jewel." 

97. The "Melon" Radical: 瓜

See why (1229: solitary) and (1230: arc) contain a "melon" component, of all things! 

98. The "Tile" Radical: 瓦

Essay 1973 on 瓦 (roof tile; "tile" radical) tells you all about the radical in (1747: bottle; small vessel) and in an array of charmingly logical kokuji.

99. The "Sweet" Radical: 甘

Essay 1093 on 甘 (sweet; "sweet" radical) covers this radical, which seems to lose all its sugariness in (1449: extremely), (1279: dark blue), and 某 (1811: a certain). This shape is just a component in the last two examples.

100. The "Birth" Radical: 生

Learn the facts of life by examining the radical in 生 (42: life) and 産 (491: to give birth).

101. The "Using" Radical: 用

Find out what the radical identical to 用 (215: use) depicts and which other radicals it somewhat resembles.

102. The "Rice Field" Radical: 田

As important as rice is to the Japanese, rice isn't always part of the picture, despite the presence of the "rice field" radical. See why 田 pops up in kanji such as 画 (85: picture), 番 (196: number), and 界 (240: world). 

103. The "Animal Counter" Radical: 疋

Learn about the radical on duty in 疑 (835: doubt) and, unrecognizably, in 疎 (1509: distant). Also find out what an animal counter is—and why 疋 is no longer useful in that regard!

104. The "Sickness" Radical: 疒

There should be a skull and crossbones here, alerting you to the infectiousness of this Radical Note! After all, this radical appears in sickness-related kanji such as 病 (381: illness) and 症 (1397: symptom). But not all characters with this radical are germ-infested. Take for instance 痛 (943: pain; thoroughly) and 疲 (1728: tired).

105. The "Dotted Tent" Radical: 癶

See how this radical crowns characters such as 登 (360: to ascend) and 発 (370: to emit), though 癶 actually has to do with treading—as if it lay at the bottom of kanji!

106. The "White" Radical: 白

See how this radical is on duty in just five Joyo kanji, including 百 (67: hundred) and 的 (551: mark, target; adjectival ending), and means "white" in exactly none of them!

107. The "Hide" Radical: 皮

Find out about surprisingly edible items, see how 皮 relates to two other radicals, and learn about its role in an unusual phonetic pattern.

108. The "Dish" Radical: 皿

Essay 1307 on 皿 (dish, plate; a helping; "dish" radical) covers this radical, showing how it plays a part in 18 Joyo kanji, such as 盗 (1649: to steal) and 盆 (1828: tray, dish; Bon Festival). 

109. The "Eye" Radical: 目 and 罒

For an eye-opening experience, see why there's an “eye” radical in 直 (349: straight; to repair, correct, change, redo; immediately; direct; honest) and 盾 (1375: shield; pretext). Also find out how it might be hard to differentiate an eye from a net in some kanji.

110. The "Spear" Radical: 矛

Essay 1843 on 矛 (long-handled Chinese spear; "spear" radical) covers this radical, exploring why there's a spear in 柔 (1363: gentleness) and in (1845: fog; mist). In both cases, 矛 is a component.

111. The "Arrow" Radical: 矢

Find out why an arrow flew into kanji such as 知 (169: to know), 短 (342: short), and 矯 (1170: to correct)!

112. The "Stone" Radical: 石

Find out about the stoniness inherent in such kanji as 砂 (869: sand) and 硬 (1260: hard), as well as more unexpected characters, such as 確 (634: certain; definite) and 磁 (881: magnetism).

113. The "Showing" Radical: 示 and 礻

Find out about a radical that has lost its religious meaning in its pure form (示) but has kept its connection to the gods in its variant form. I'm talking about the differences between, say, 票 (570: ballot, vote; document) and 神 (324: god; mind; Shinto).

115. The "Grain" Radical: 禾

Find out about the rice in some of the first kanji you learned—namely, 私 (876: private, personal; I, me) and 科 (81: subject of study; department, course)—and in some characters with financial meanings. Learn to distinguish the "grain" radical 禾 from others with similar appearances and names. 

116. The "Hole" Radical: 穴

Learn to perceive the whole hole in characters such as 窓 (919: window), rather than mistaking the top part for the 宀 radical. And find out why the sky (15: 空) has holes in it! 

117. The "Standing" Radical: 立

Learn to distinguish the on-duty radical in kanji such as 章 (318: written passage) and 競 (463: competition) from similar-looking radicals.

118. The "Bamboo" Radical: 竹

It's obvious why bamboo would be in  (2094: chopsticks), but it might surprise you to learn about the bamboo connections in 箱 (1703: box) and other kanji. Also see how we came to have bamboo in the body, and find out what a bamboo tally is.

119. The "Rice" Radical: 米

There's rice in the restroom! Rice in cosmetics! Rice in the hair salon! That's all thanks to 粧 (1406: makeup; to adorn oneself). Find out about that kanji and others containing the "rice" radical, such as 粉 (577: powder; flour) and 糖 (947: sugar).

120. The "Thread" Radical: 糸

Learn about the radical threading its way through dozens of Joyo kanji, including 絵 (89: picture) and 終 (306: end). This radical connects us to various handicrafts, ropes that play central roles at shrines and in sumo, and four colors.

121. The "Jar" Radical: 缶

See essay 1095 on 缶 (tin (can); "jar" radical) to find out about a shape that serves as a component in both 陶 (1650: pottery) and 鬱 (1963: depression). You can see the 缶 in 鬱, can't you?!

122. The "Net" Radical: 罒 and 网

This radical sits atop common kanji such as 置 (545: to place) and 署 (897: government office)You may know those characters, but did you know that this radical has connections to architecture, eyes, crime, sin, and taxes?!

123. The "Sheep" Radical: 羊

Feeling sheepish that you know little about the "sheep" radical? That's about to change. Find out about characters with sheep on the left, on the right, and on top, and see what role sheep play in these kanji. Also learn to use 群 (657: flock) when discussing flocks of sheep ... and sparrows and monkeys?!

124. The "Feather" Radical: 羽

You likely know 習 (307: to learn; custom) from 練習 (れんしゅう: practice) and 翻 from 翻訳 (ほんやく: translation). Now see why such kanji are feathered or winged—that is, why they include the "feather" radical 羽!

125. The "Old" Radical: 老 and 耂

Learn how 考 (117: to think), 者 (298: person), and 老 (609: old) don’t depict what you would imagine.

126. The "And Then" Radical: 而

Find out about the shape in 耐 (1542: to withstand) that has represented a "rake" and a "beard" at various times.

127. The "Plow" Radical: 耒

See how the radical on duty in 耕 (673: cultivating land) and 耗 (1853: depletion) is indestructible.

128. The "Ear" Radical: 耳

Find out what big ears signify. Also discover how ears connect to deities in 聖 (911: holy) and how ears work figuratively in 職 (721: employment).

129. The "Writing Brush" Radical: 聿

See why it seems as if this radical is on duty in the wrong Joyo kanji! 

130. The "Flesh" Radical: 肉 and 月

Learn about the pleasures of the flesh with the radical that pops up inside 20 Joyo kanji for body parts, from 脳 (954: brain) to 膝 (2100: knee, lap). Okay, not quite head to toe, but close!

131. The "Minister (of State)" Radical: 臣

Find out how, although 臣 (512: servant) resembles a segment of a brick wall, that kanji and the identical radical represent something round!

132. The "Oneself" Radical: 自

See why this radical is in both 自 (134: self) and 臭 (1356: stink)!

133. The "Arriving" Radical: 至

Find out why 至 would repeatedly appear on a map, and see what this shape once represented.

134. The "Mortar" Radical: 臼

Essay 1987 on 臼 (mortar; millstone; "mortar" radical) covers this radical. If you're interested (興: 652) in beating things to a pulp, this is the radical for you!

135. The "Tongue" Radical: 舌

Learn the name of the radical in 舌 (732: tongue), find out where it’s a mere component, and read about the etymology of this shape.

136. The "Dancing Legs" Radical: 舛

See how this radical gives legs to characters such as (1761: to dance).

137. The "Boat" Radical: 舟

Essay 1354 on 舟 (small boat; "boat" radical) presents the eight Joyo kanji with this on-duty radical, including 航 (479: to navigate) and 般 (1714: general). 

138. The "Stopping" Radical: 艮

See how 艮 has connections to time, cardinal directions, stopping, and 良 (598: good)!

139. The "Color" Radical: 色

See how the radical on duty in 色 (145: color) and 艶 (1966: glossy) represents something off-color!

140. The "Grass" Radical: 艹 and 艸

Study the patterns in the grass, including all the times this radical teams up with the "water" radical. You'll learn to tell whether or not 艹 is an on-duty radical by observing its position in a character.

141. The "Tiger" Radical: 虍

"Tiger" radical burning bright ... It burns in such kanji as (1040: fear) and 虜 (1903: barbarian), seeming to lend them extremely negative meanings.

142. The "Insect" Radical: 虫

Learn about the insects buzzing inside characters for certain insects, as well as 蜜 (2116: honey, nectar) and even 強 (100: strong). Also find out when this radical means "snake," as in 虹 (2090: rainbow)! 

143. The "Blood" Radical: 血

Find out about the radical in 血 (270: blood) and 衆 (705: the public), and see how the 血 radical relates to the “dish” radical 皿.

144. The "Going" Radical: 行

See how 行 relates to two other radicals, and discover the unusual pattern apparent in kanji such as 術 (708: technique) and 街 (819: town).

145. The "Clothing" Radical: 衣 and 衤

Just as clothing often tears, the "clothing" radical is rent in half in kanji such as 衷 (1585: innermost heart) but stays intact in characters such as 裂 (1930: split) and 複 (783: compound).

146. The "West" Radical: 襾, 覀, and 西

Find out about the shapes, names, and meanings of the radical in kanji such as 西 (152: west) and 要 (593: need), and see how to have fun with a lotus root graphically!

147. The "Seeing" Radical: 見

Find out how 見 etymologically means “to see” not only in kanji such as 覚 (439: to perceive) and 観 (445: view) but even in 規 (643: regulation) and 親 (149: parent).

148. The "Horn" Radical: 角

Find out what kind of horn 角 (243: horn) represents, and see why there’s a horn in 解 (632: to take apart). Also learn what a caterpillar needs with a horn in 触 (1428: to touch).

149. The "Word" Radical: 言

Learn about the radical that turns 売 (192: to sell) into 読 (189: to read) and that transforms 十 (33: ten) into 計 (105: plan).

150. The "Valley" Radical: 谷

Learn what to call this radical, and find out what the cutely symmetrical 谷 (122: valley) represents etymologically.

151. The "Bean" Radical: 豆

Essay 1640 on 豆 (bean; "bean" radical) covers this radical, which can fill our heads (頭: 186) with abundant (豊: 790) happiness (喜: 450). Incidentally, when it comes to Joyo kanji, 豆 is the on-duty radical only in 豊, as well as in 豆 itself.

152. The "Pig" Radical: 豕

It's no surprise that (1670: pig) contains the "pig" radical, but what is a pig doing inside kanji such as 象 (533: elephant), 劇 (848: theatrical performance), and above all 家 (83: house)?! This Radical Note has the answers you're seeking!

153. The "Badger" Radical: 豸

See why there's a badger inside  (2110: appearance), the only Joyo kanji featuring this on-duty radical. Also find out which two Joyo kanji include 豸 as a component.

154. The "Small Shell" Radical: 貝

Find out about the radical that enriches characters such as 資 (694: resources, funds) and that lends value to kanji such as 賞 (511: prize). Also learn about the connection between seashells and a nervous breakdown!

155. The "Red" Radical: 赤

Discover the surprising figurative sense of a term for "bright red." Also find out what's really going on inside 赤 (46: red) and 赦 (1336: to pardon) etymologically.

156. The "Running" Radical: 走 and the Left Side of 起

You know this radical from the first kanji in 趣味 (しゅみ: hobby). See what 趣 and five other Joyo kanji have to do with running, including 起 (250: to rise, stand up; happen, occur), which contains a rearing serpent!

157. The "Foot" Radical: 足

The "foot" radical 足 can mean "foot," not surprisingly, but it can also symbolize "footprint," as in 跡 (1485: trace; ruins). In fact, the 足 radical pops up twice in a term related to digital footprints! In another word, the "foot" radical ends up near the ceiling!

158. The "Body" Radical: 身

As 身 primarily means "body," one would expect ancient forms to depict a man's physique, but that's far from the case! See what inspired the old shape. 

159. The "Vehicle" Radical: 車

Find out what to call the radical in 軍 (466: armed forces) versus 載 (1295: to load (with cargo)). And see why there's a vehicle in 軟 (1673: soft) and 轄 (1090: control)!

160. The "Bitter" Radical: 辛

Essay 1432 on 辛 (spicy; bitter; dry taste; salty; severe; painful; "bitter" radical) tells you all about this radical, which helps you resign (辞: 500) from a job that's going nowhere, as if you've hit a wall (壁: 1780). By the way, 辛 is the radical in 辞 but just a component in 壁.

161. The "'Dragon' Character" Radical: 辰

Find out why there’s a dragon (or is it a clam?) in 農 (366: farming) and 辱 (1430: to humiliate).

162. The "Movement" Radical: 辶 and 辶

Find out about a radical that puts the moves on many kanji, transforming their meanings. For instance, 辶 can turn a car (31: 車) into a link (607: 連) and can make grandchildren (538: 孫) humble (2057: 遜).

163. The "Right Village" Radical: 阝

Although 阝looks identical on the left or right side of a character, the meaning varies with the position. Here we look at it on the right side of a kanji, where it often means "village," as in 郷 (841: hometown) and (1254: outskirts). We also examine how 邑 turned into 阝 in both 部 (384: section) and 邸 (1613: stately residence).

164. The "Saké" Radical: 酉

Find out about the relationship between saké and birds! That is, see why this radical was named after a bird but reeks of alcohol in many Joyo kanji, including 酒 (302: alcohol; saké) and (1457: intoxication).

165. The "Topped Rice" Radical: 釆

See why this radical is called "topped rice," and find out why 釈 (885: explanation) and 采 (2015: dice) aren't the best representations of this radical, even though they're the only two Joyo kanji featuring this radical on duty.

166. The "Village" Radical: 里

Examine not only kanji such as 野 (213: field) and 量 (600: quantity) but also a ramen restaurant name that might be vulgar!

167. The "Metal" Radical: 金

Find out about the radical that gives us everything from silver (263: 銀) and steel (864: 鋼) to tools such as needles (905: 針), mirrors (462: 鏡), and pots for cooking (2088: 鍋). And let's not forget about something none of us could live without—money (734: 銭)!

168. The "Long" Radical: 長

See how 長 looks in one sign and in a stroke-order diagram to understand that not everything is as it may first appear.

169. The "Gate" Radical: 門

Find out about the radical inside kanji as common as 間 (92: interval), 開 (241: to open), and 閉 (968: to close), and examine the ancient Asian gate designs that seem to bear little connection to the 門 shape.

170. The "Left Hill" Radical: 阜 and 阝

In Radical Note 163 on the "right village" radical, we examined  on the right side of a kanji. Here we look at it on the left, seeing how it almost always retains its etymological connection to "hill." That's true, for example, in 険 (662: danger; steep), 障 (902: hindrance), and 陥 (1098: to cave in, collapse).   

171. The "Slave" Radical: 隶

See why 隶 is called the “slave” radical, learn the etymology of 隷 (1924: subordinate), and find out about clerical script.

172. The "Old Bird" Radical: 隹

See what’s old about the “old bird” radical, and find out why birds have flown into kanji such as 雅 (1057: elegance) and 離 (1897: separate).

173. The “Rain” Radical: 雨

It's not surprising to find rain in kanji such as 雲 (78: cloud) and (1888: thunder; lightning), but find out why there's precipitation in (1922: zero; to spill; small) and 霊 (1923: spirit, soul).

174. The "Blue" Radical: 青

Find out how 青 (43: blue) connects to a red mineral, see how the color blue led 静 (519: quiet) to mean what it does, and meet friendly blue devils from very different contexts.

175. The "Negative" Radical: 非

Discover the surprising etymology of 非, which is on duty in 非 (773: not), and the counterintuitive Japanese name of this radical.

176. The "Face" Radical: 面

Discover the etymology of 面 (395: face) and decipher the 面-related wordplay on a teacup.

177. The "Leather" Radical: 革

Find out about leathery kanji such as  (1052: shoes), and see how this radical differs from others with similar English names. 

178. The "Tanned Leather" Radical: 韋

Find out about the counterintuitive name of the radical in 韓 (1981: South Korea), as well as complex matters involving its shapes in various fonts and its stroke count.

180. The "Sound" Radical: 音

Find out what the radical contributes to kanji such as 韻 (1015: rhyme) and 響 (1171: echo), and learn how to see the bigger picture when it comes to this radical.

181. The "Big Shell" Radical: 頁

Learn the differences between the "small shell" and "big shell" radicals, and find out why 頁 actually has nothing to do with shellfish! See what it does mean in characters such as 顔 (93: face) and 頭 (186: head).

182. The "Wind" Radical: 風

See how ancient people perceived fierce winds as being connected to malevolent animals, and find out how the radical in 風 (198: wind) relates to the “table” radical 几.

183. The "Flying" Radical: 飛

You’ll be flying once you brief yourself on the radical in 飛 (566: to fly).

184. The "Food" Radical: 食

Find out about the "food" radical populating kanji such as 飲 (230: to drink), 館 (247: building), and 飼 (1322: to have an animal), and see why any of those things have a connection to food. 

185. The "Neck" Radical: 首

Find out about the radical in 首 (139: neck) and have fun with kanji Rorschach tests!

186. The "Perfume" Radical: 香

Essay 1255 on 香 (fragrance; "perfume" radical) covers this shape, which doesn't appear in any Joyo characters aside from 香 itself but smells really nice!

187. The "Horse" Radical: 馬

From 験 (475: to test; attempt; examine; verify) to 駄 (1541: good for nothing; clogs, sandals), find out the equine connection in all the Joyo kanji that contain this radical.

188. The "Bone" Radical: 骨

See why the name of the radical in 骨 (867: bone), 髄 (1463: marrow), and (1979: corpse) seems perfect, and find out how to eat soft bones.

189. The "High" Radical: 高

Read about the etymology of 高 (119: high), explore the variant 髙, and discover the sweet back story for the name of one type of shochu.

190. The "Long Hair" Radical: 髟

If you associate "long hair" and "radical" only with Vietnam War protests, find out what these words mean in a kanji context and in 髪 (1706: hair on the head).

192. The "Fragrant Herbs" Radical: 鬯

Gain a clearer view of the radical inside 鬱 (1963: depression), and see how this fragrant radical relates to that melancholy state of mind.

194. The "Devil" Radical: 鬼

See essay 1128 on 鬼 (devil; "devil" radical) to find out how to bewitch (: 1839) someone's soul (: 1280) with the help of one feisty radical.

195. The "Fish" Radical: 魚

See why this radical teams up with 京 (capital) and 羊 (sheep) in  (1208: whale) and 鮮 (1501: fresh), respectively, and find out which all-important kanji contains the "fish" radical but is shockingly non-Joyo.

196. The "Bird" Radical: 鳥

The feathers fly in this Radical Note, which covers kanji such as 鳴 (209: to cry (animals)), 鶏 (1206: chicken), and 鶴 (2072: crane), including their etymologies. Learn the difference between 鳥 and another bird radical with which it often combines.

198. The "Deer" Radical: 鹿

Essay 2025 on 鹿 (deer; "deer" radical) covers this radical, which practically disappears in 麗 (1926: companion, lovely) and (2108: foot of a mountain), the only two Joyo kanji in which it plays a part (besides 鹿 itself).

199. The "Wheat" Radical: 麦

Find out about the radical in 麦 (194: wheat; barley; oats; rye) and (2118: noodles), and see why some Japanese feel that 麺 is insufficiently complicated.

200. The "Hemp" Radical: 麻

See essay 1829 on 麻 (hemp; "hemp" radical) to learn about this shape. Although it doesn't serve as a radical in any Joyo kanji besides 麻 itself, it's a component in a few Joyo characters, enabling us to polish (磨: 1831) things gently or chafe (摩: 1830) them roughly.

201. The "Yellow" Radical: 黄

Learn about the parent and variant of this radical, which is on duty in 黄 (120: yellow) and a mere component in 横 (235: side). Also see which famous film contains 黄 in its title.

203. The "Black" Radical: 黒

Of all the Joyo kanji, the "black" radical 黒 is on duty only in  (1856: silent). In fact, according to some sources, 黒 acts as both the radical and the phonetic in 黙! 

207. The "Drum" Radical: 鼓

Radical 207 appears in only one Joyo kanji, which is 鼓 itself! See essay 1234 on 鼓 (drum; to beat; encourage, muster; "drum" radical) to find out all about this radical and autonomous kanji.

209. The "Nose" Radical: 鼻

Find out about the shape of the 鼻 radical versus that of its variant, and learn the etymology of 鼻 (377: nose). Also see what the Japanese think about a famous story by Akutagawa.

210. The "Alike" Radical: 斉

See essay 1473 on 斉 (equal; "alike" radical) to learn about this radical that Nelson has nicknamed Mr. Saito in kanji such as 斎 (1291: purification, abstinence).

211. The "Tooth" Radical: 歯

Find out about the shape of the radical in 歯 (290: tooth) and 齢 (1925: age) versus that of the variant, and discover the etymologies of these two kanji. Also enjoy creative depictions of 歯科 (dentistry).

212. The "Big Dragon" Radical: 竜

See essay 1899 on 竜 (dragon; "big dragon" radical) to find out why a dragon would be lurking (but only as a component) inside a waterfall (滝: 1550).

213. The "Turtle" Radical: 亀

See essay 1985 on 亀 (turtle; "turtle" radical) to learn about this radical, which doesn't appear in any Joyo kanji except for 亀 itself but may bring you good luck.