185. The "Neck" Radical: 首

The "neck" radical 首 has a great deal in common with this autonomous kanji:

首 (139: neck, head; narrow part; leader; first; to confess; dismissal (from work))

These nine-stroke shapes look identical. The radical has no variants. 

Just as this kanji carries the Joyo kun-yomi くび and primarily means "neck," the radical name is くび in Japanese, "neck" in English. I'd say that the kanji and radical are neck and neck!

Henshall tells us in his newer edition that older forms of 首 "clearly depict the head of an animal, some with horns." Other scholars "tend to see some bronze forms as showing hair attached to a person's head or eye." That sounds to me like a Rorschach test.

Speaking of which, what do you see in this image from Vancouver, Canada:

Photo Credit: Eve Kushner

I'm going to stick my neck out and say that the swirl represents either a wavelike cloud or a vegetable such as cauliflower or broccoli. How that relates to the services offered (acupuncture and massage), I have no idea!

The more important question for our purposes is whether the character is 首 or 道 (188: way). If it's the former, that makes sense because neck pain certainly leads people to seek acupuncture and massage. And if we're in fact seeing 道, which includes 首 as a mere component, that would explain the swirl as a stylized "movement" radical 辶 and would also make sense, as in "the way" of healing. The business no longer exists, so "no way" is now most appropriate!