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Kanji Challenge – Part 2 Posted by on May 14, 2015 in Culture, Grammar

In my previous blog, I have started the first Kanji Challenge where I have listed the first set of simple Kanji’s, number 1 through 10 (一 ~ 十).  Before I keep posting more of the Kanji challenges, I wanted to introduce you to what we call, “Radical”, in Kanji,, which will be very important to know before studying Kanji’s.



What is Radical?

Radical is simply a section header. In Japanese, it is called, Bushu (ぶしゅ、部首). Each Kanji has a Bushu within the component of Kanji, which is a graphical meaning indicator built in to it.  Once you master a good amount of  Bushu (ぶしゅ、部首), it will be easier for you to read each Kanji, even though you might not know how to pronounce each Kanji correctly, at least you would know what it means. That’s why it is very important to master Bushu (ぶしゅ、部首) for Kanji.


Examples of Bushu (ぶしゅ、部首)

There are 214 Bushu’s all total. See below, this chart categorizes bushu’ based on number of strokes it takes to write it.  It is not easy at all to memorize them all these. I will start with simple and most common ones to start with.

康熙字典 214 部首
1 丿 2
10 11 鹿
12 13 14 15
16 17

Source: Wikipedia Japanese 



Let’s learn some Bushu (ぶしゅ、部首)

Here are some simple ones to start learning.


艹 – くさ、くさかんむり (Kusakanmuri) 

Any Kanji’s that has this bushu means it is related to flowers or grass. For example:

花 - This Kanji means Flower. “Hana” はな

薬 -    This Kanji means medicine. “Kusuri” くすり


宀 – うかんむり (Ukanmuri)

Any Kanji’s that has this bushu means it is related to house or roof. For example:

家 -    This Kanji means house. “Ie” いえ

安 -    This Kanji means Peaceful. “An” あん


雨 - あめかんむり (Amekanmuri)

Any Kanji’s that has this bushu means it is related to rain or weather. For example:

雲 -    This Kanji means cloud. “Kumo” くも

雪 -    This Kanji means snow. “Yuki” ゆき


By knowing what the radical is for each Kanji, it gives you a good hint on how to figure out its meaning. Hope this lesson was helpful. For upcoming Kanji lessons, I will start incorporating new bushu each time so you will know more of bushu along with new Kanji’s. Stay tuned !


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About the Author: keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.


  1. retyawanto:

    I got difficulty on this radical