List of Phonetic Components

Japanese phonetic components: River contains the KA phonetic 可
River contains the KA phonetic 可

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 is available from a number of online retailers including Amazon. For the full list view the book page.
So many Japanese resources mention phonetic components in passing, and give one or two examples. But it is very hard to find a definitive list of the phonetics that you can use in a practical way to study kanji readings.

The Kanji Code provides that list. Namely, 150 components are listed.

Each component entry contains the following information:

  • the component e.g. 可
  • the ON reading it represents, written in romaji e.g. KA
  • meaning e.g. possible
  • type (kanji in its own right, radical or component) e.g. kanji
  • at least two and up to seven kanji that contain it
    e.g. 可, 河
  • at least one example word showing that reading e.g.
    河川 KASEN river, stream

The first 10 phonetic components are listed below. If you would like to see the other 140,  The Kanji Code is available as a paperback or ebook.

Phonetic Name ON reading Type
eternal EI kanji
possible KA kanji
add KA kanji
change KA kanji
fruit KA kanji
open mouth KA component
tusk GA radical
myself, obstinate GA kanji
morality GI kanji
each KAKU kanji


Read more blog posts by Natalie