A list of kanji with common components that aren't Wanikani radicals

Updated third list (the one with “radicals” that aren’t kanji) with images. I said I’d leave it for another day but apparently I have no self control
Feel free to name the radicals, they’re only listed as “radical” now!


Thanks! We’ll take a look at this list :smiley:


Something that would be interesting to add to this is the concept of phonetic components. Wanikani touches on this indirectly when they mention that most kanji that contain こう will have a possible reading of こう. They can’t be used as a 100% steadfast rule, and for more advanced kanji there will often be other possible readings alongside the reading inherited from a phonetic component.

Another example of this is the “scarecrow” and “black hole” radicals both of which have a heavy tendency to give the kanji they’re part of an on’yomi reading of ふく. We also see with “black hole” an example of how this doesn’t always hold true with , which does not have an on’yomi reading of ふく.

I think this is probably more of a fun thing to point out for learners. It can be helpful to have the ability to sometimes guess a reading of an unknown kanji if you’re reading with an online dictionary handy. But it ultimately won’t allow you to guess the meaning nor will it allow you to always guess a possible reading let alone the correct reading given how the unknown kanji is encountered.

1 Like

I actually thought of that as I was compiling the list. In some cases it’s surprising how all kanji that share the same radicals also share the same on readings, and sometimes this still holds true even when you can’t see it from the list, as the WK main reading isn’t always the on. But as you say, it’s not a 100%, and sometimes it’s not true at all, and many similar kanji are read completely differently. Maybe at a later stage we might want to change all readings in the list to on so that such “rules” are more immediately apparent? But then again many of the radicals are just made-up, so I’m not sure how useful it would be. There are more official phonetic component lists for that. It might be worth comparing.

1 Like

In Japanese I believe the concept is called 音符おんぷ and refers to the notion that some kanji inherit an on’yomi reading from a component of the kanji. There is a concept that goes in hand with it: 意符いふ which is a component of the kanji that is meant to imbue a meaning. One example of the latter is 月. While it means moon, the meaning it tends to impart when a component of a radical is something more like “meat” or “flesh,” which is why we tend to see it frequently in kanji characters for organs.

As far as I can tell, neither of these are steadfast rules. My bit of research I’ve done into it points to a subset of Japanese kanji called 形声文字けいせいもじ. These are kanji characters that are recognized as having their meaning and on’yomi imparted to them by their components. This webpage gives a nice breakdown of the concept.


Cool, from your link and specifically from the following quote, I found out that one radical I had in the third list is an actual kanji (and phonetic component) and could be moved to the second list (亢). 采 (2nd list) and 票 (WK kanji) are also perfect phonetic components. Good to know!

Here are some examples of perfect series (but really, read the original article, it’s really good):

  • 包 (ホウ) → 包 抱 泡 砲 胞 飽
  • 付 (フ) → 付 府 符 腐 附
  • 司(シ) → 伺 司 嗣 詞 飼
  • 冓(コウ) → 冓 媾 搆 構 溝 篝 覯 講 購 遘
  • 采(サイ) → 彩 採 菜 采
  • 票(ヒョウ) → 剽 嫖 慓 標 漂 瓢 票 縹 飃 飄 驃 鰾
  • 亢(コウ) → 亢 伉 吭 坑 抗 杭 航 頏
1 Like

If I remember correctly, this is because the 月 radical we see in most organs is actually a simplification of 肉, which makes the meaning a bit more apparent. The simplified 肉 then imparts the meaning just as you described. :grin:


Ah yes, that’s right. I forgot that given the striking resemblance to the actual character 月 (and because I’ve spent the past while adhering to WaniKani’s naming convention for radicals, haha).

I remember simplified/radical forms being something that muddied the waters a bit when I studied Mandarin back in school.


This is great! I had a similar experience and considered compiling a list like this for myself but never did. Thanks for going to the effort


Didn’t you already name all the radical images (probably in filenames / alt)? Bad names, maybe; duplicate names, maybe; but it is better than naming it as “radical”.

Also, I added a Kanji outside WaniKani just now ; though I actually added it as,

Outside Wanikani

諜 - spy, newspaper, チョウ (say+world-tree)

I also have some thought regarding 1. Katakana for On’yomi 2. Whether Okurigana should be dangled.

  • I think Katakana should be used for On’yomi; unless Kun’yomi also pronounces the same Kana’s.
  • Okurigana should be dangled, if there is no associated Nanori versions that just drop Okurigana.
1 Like

I didn’t think it was worth adding them. The filenames are just combinations of the WK radicals that make up my “invented” radicals (apart from full power instead of three-power).

I just used the main readings listed by WK, as written in WK. Listing all readings and dangling okurigana was not in the scope of what I wanted to do, but maybe converting all readings to on at some point would be worth it for underlining the phonetic connection where it exists.

It’s worth noting that WaniKani also makes distinction between Cliff and Canopy (Dotted-cliff).

Though, there are also parts where WaniKani don’t make distinctions

  • Pelican (礻) or dotted pelican (衤)
    • This can also be extended as far as, the other form of 礻 - .
  • Winter (夂) or folding chair (攵)

Right, that “radical” should be called cliff-trees if we’re keeping the WK naming convention, or we should add a “drop” and remove 歴 from the group.

I have just added memorable names to all image radicals.

Actually, I create a Git repo for this (but on my private Git website, as I am not sure that I will touch too many licensed WaniKani contents). Private also means that I might not keep the website running forever.

Note that, the exact same way can also be done in this forum (WaniKani Community / Discourse), by creating replies for every radicals and non-Wanikani kanji; though it will be harder to both make a Wiki and spoiler.

Making the first post (OP) a Wiki is an easiest way in this case. As I find more contents, I will share.

1 Like