88. The "Father" Radical: 父

Real-life fathers may be complicated to understand, but not so with the "father" radical 父. Its four symmetrical strokes always look the same; there are no variant shapes. And this radical is on duty in exactly one Joyo kanji:

父 (197: father)

The Joyo kun-yomi ちち of that character lends the same pronunciation to the radical.

Henshall says in his newer edition (the source of all etymological information in this Radical Note) that 父 depicts a "hand holding a stone ax" and that the use of this character as "father" represents loan usage. That's an intriguing leap from a weapon-bearing person to a father figure.

This 2013 film by director Hirokazu Kore-eda has very different titles in Japanese and English:

Like Father, Like Son

The Japanese title literally means "And Finally I Become a Father."

The award-winning movie tells the story of two families with sons switched at birth. When the error comes to light six years later, the parents confront difficult choices, as well as glaring differences in the way they relate to the boys. The title refers to the way one of the fathers, who had poured his energy into his work rather than his child, learns to be a much better parent.

As a Mere Component

Our 父 radical is just a component in this Joyo kanji:

交 (115: association)

Henshall says the entire character depicts a "person with legs crossed," which somehow inspired extended senses such as "exchange." I mention this because 交 serves as the phonetic in five other Joyo kanji, lending those characters the etymological meanings "crossed legs" or "mix, exchange":

校 (21: school)

効 (671: effect)

較 (1077: comparison)

郊 (1254: suburbs) 

 (1261: to strangle)

The 父 component (as opposed to 交) functions as the phonetic in one more Joyo kanji: 

 (1950: metal pot)

This 父 lends the associated sense "big" or "swell up," according to Henshall.

This manga also features 父 in the title, now with the yomi とう:

Kyoko and Her Father

This special type of kun-yomi works only in certain words, such as お父さん (おとうさん: father). Here the keyword is just 父さん (とうさん), which the daughter herself would use.

I shared this manga so you could see what fun the font designer had with the 父. I might think it represented a Hercule Poirot mustache (which is curled at the tips), but the father figure doesn't appear endowed in that area.

In the woman's name 響子 (きょうこ), the first kanji generally means "echo; sound; influence; commotion."