Natalie Hamilton is a writer, translator and lecturer in Translation Technology. She turned her focus to Japanese study while living and working in Japan’s rural Oita Prefecture on the JET Programme. She was awarded a Master of Japanese Translation in 2014, which included a linguistics dissertation entitled Cracking the ON Yomi Code. Her new kanji textbook The Kanji Code has been an Amazon #1 Best Seller on four continents.
The radicals or 部首 (bushu) are the components of kanji that give a hint to their meaning. There are 214 official radicals in both Japanese kanji and Chinese hanzi, and their meanings are roughly the same across both languages, with only small differences. You can find a list in the back of most kanji dictionaries and by doing an online search.
When I lived in Japan I decided to ‘challenge’ the 漢字検定 (kanjikentei), a kanji test that native Japanese people take throughout their school years, and some adults take just for the challenge of it. The test demands that you learn the meaning and names of the radicals, so I set about learning them.
As is my wont, I found it easier to learn them by breaking the list of 214 radicals down into sub-categories. While they are traditionally listed in order of stroke count, I found that separating them into subject sub-categories helped me to get a grip on their meaning and make sense of the world created by the radicals. These are categories that I decided on, and not ‘official’ as far as I know. I’m sure you could order them slightly differently, depending on how you look at them.
This list features as an appendix in my book The Kanji Code. I hope you find it useful!
My web stats tell me that quite a few people have been googling “the kanji code pdf”. Please be aware that I self-published the book with my own savings, paying the graphic designer a decent Australian rate. Even though the book is getting good Amazon rankings, this has not amounted to big bucks and I have barely broken even. I am certainly nowhere near being paid for the months of labour I spent in 2018 collating the lists of phonetic components, kanji examples and indexes. I get a very small proportion of the print book amount as most of it goes to printing and the distributors.
I did a lot of the work for The Kanji Code after my 2 year old son went to bed each night, after a long day either teaching or parenting. I didn’t run a Kickstarter campaign, I just used my own funds and I would just like to receive some payment for all the hard work I put in which will hopefully help lots of people learn kanji. I don’t have a university or large publisher behind me yet because I am a casual academic so this is not considered the university’s book. All the marketing is up to little old me! If one day a big publisher decides to buy the book, I will remove this message.
The print book is comparable in cost with similar textbooks, and the ebook is the cost of a cheap lunch in all regions. I have deliberately lowered the price in the emerging markets to make it more affordable. So please support our small press by paying for your copy https://amzn.to/2KWFQXD
Or if you really can’t afford it, please ask your teacher, school or library to order a copy!
|water, 3 water drops||水 氵||mizu/sanzui|
|ice, 2 water drops||冫||ni sui|
|meat, organ||肉 月||niku|
|legs||儿||nin nyou / hito ashi|
|person||人 亻 𠆢||hito|
|old age||老 耂||rou|
|king, ball/ jewel||王 玉||ou tama|
|clan, family name||氏||uji|
|private, katakana mu||ム||mu|
|ma border (麻)/ dotted cliff||⼴||madare|
|country enclosure||囗||kuni gamae|
|U crown||宀||u kanmuri|
|long stride||廴||en nyou|
|C box/ box frame||匚||hako gamae|
|katakana TSU/ small||⺍||tsu kanmuri|
|wa crown||冖||wa kanmuri|
|bend, katakana NO||丿||no|
|worship, alter||示 礻||shimesu|
|again/ right hand||又||mata|
|work, katakana E||工||takumi|
|wrong, non-||非||arazu / hi|
|tanned leather||韋||nameshi gawa|
|bolt of cloth||⽦ ⺪||hiki|
|MATH & MEASUREMENT|
|second||乙 , 乚||otsu|
|grain, two-branch tree||禾||nogi|
|spoon||匕||saji no hi|
|sword, knife||刀 刂||katana|
|strike, activity||⽁ ⺙||boku dzukuri nobun|
|net||罒 网 ⺲ ⺳)||ami gashira|
|stamp, seal||⼙||fushi dzukuri|
|zodiac dragon||辰||shin no tatsu|
|fortune-telling/ katakana TO||ト||boku no to|
Order The Kanji Code for the Japanese phonetic components, kanji examples and vocabulary.