How many Kanji made up of just one radical are there?


I’m thinking about using WK, but the whole deal concerning fake radicals is making me doubt it. I feel like there could be an upside to it - not in the case of naming a one-radical kanji differently than the radical that it is made out of.

So I would just replace their meaning such that in those cases the radical would have the same meaning as the kanji (read that I can do that). BUT: how many of those are out there? There are a total of 214 radicals… how many are also Kanji? Can’t find that anywhere… If it’s not many, then fine, if it’s many, then I guess I’d destroy the system that I’m using too much for it to be valuable.(I’d choose the Heisig Method then)

Would be very happy to get some answers. I wanna start learning instead of looking for methods.

WK uses more than 214 radicals because they’re not the same concept as the 214 “official” radicals.

“Real” radicals are used for ordering kanji in dictionaries, the way we order words in dictionaries by their first letter. As such each kanji only has one “official” radical, regardless of how many parts it has. Heisig also doesn’t use radicals the way “official” radicals are used, so I don’t see why that would be a distinction.

WK teaches you over 2000 kanji meanings and readings, and over 6000 vocab. Heisig doesn’t come close.

Lastly, they’re overhauling the radicals because people made this complaint enough times.


Most of the kanji that are also radicals share the name/meaning. Only encountered one or two per level where they are different.

Yes, please read the WaniKani word ‘radical’ as Kanji Parts. Some of them are Kangxi radicals (this is only one set of radicals used, but is the source of 214). They are not used for collation (as dictionaries), but for breaking down kanji into smaller easier to remember parts. The Kangxi radicals do not cover all parts of a kanji like WK does, only common pieces to sort by.

@Leebo pretty much covered it, but Im curious as to where I can read about this

I’d imagine further details were provided and I kinda wanna read up on them. If anyone has a link, I would appreciate it!

Kristen has referenced it numerous times this year, but it’s a big change that will go into effect all at once, so they have to wait until they have everything in place, including all the new mnemonics. There’s no one topic that mentioned it, but she has mentioned it in other radical-complaint topics.

That’s exactly what I want to know. How many levels are you in?

@ the others: Thank you! I read through the forum and understood WK’s use of the word “radical” , but I’m wondering whether those Kanji Parts (whether they be official radicals or WK-made-up radicals) lead to confusion.

@Leebo yeah, so WK uses more than 214 “radicals”. It seems to me that there will be quite a lot of, let’s call them symbols, that have entirely different meanings (standing on it’s own as a Kanji or as a Kanji Part).

Hmm would be nice to know how long it’ll take until the change is in effect, don’t think I’ll start before that.

What kind of confusion are you imagining? Radicals are used within mnemonics and then eventually mnemonics fade from your memory and you are left with just the meaning and reading of the kanji. At the end of WK, no one is thinking about the radicals.

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Sure, that system works for me. It’s perfect. But: (i dont have a good example here for lack of Japanese skills) let’s say WK decided to name the radical that is also the Mouth Kanji “Box” (which isn’t the case, but I get the feeling that it is for many other radicals), and I’d try to learn a new Kanji which had the “Box” radical in it, then I’d think:

“Hey, it’s box! No wait, it’s Mouth!.. what is it?” - so I’d have to learn 2 meanings for one symbol.

If I need to do that for many, then that’ll confuse me.

I’m not sure if that’s what will actually happen when you’re in the mix, but the number of kanji that are identical to their radical in form, but have a different name for the radical has to be on the order of several 10’s of them, if that much. Most radicals aren’t complete shapes, and thus can never share a kanji. Beyond that, many radicals that are identical to their kanji are in fact the same name as their kanji.

Okay! Well that sounds good. Several 10’s is manageable, I’ll just adjust their meaning then to the same one.

The only issue left then is this plan of overhauling the radicals. Hopefully there’ll be some official info soon, who wants to start a system that gets changed mid-way through?

Yeah, there’s only a few that are “wrong”, per se, and most of us have adjusted their meanings via synonym (the most egregious, in my opinion, is calling 母 a drawer.)


@anon20839864 Is there any update on the status of the changes to radicals/mnemonics? I know you probably can’t give an exact timeline, but is it still planned?

oh, tagging Kristen is probably much faster, I was going to find some old threads:

Well, I don’t know why only 2/4 of the links actually show the post, but I guess you can always click the ones that don’t work. Sorry!

Yup. Still working on the update, but as always, no dates because what I’m doing takes a ton of time and work and if I say a date I’ll definitely screw something up and not hit it.


I saw around 30 (out of ~500 WK radicals) for jouyou kanji. You will probably rather have a problem to remember the radical names later on though.

十 cross
一 ground
丁 nail
弓 spring
又 stool
干 antenna
母 drawer
用 elephant
久 raptor cage *
也 alligator
支 frog
可 lip ring
冋 mustache
里 sunflower
亭 nailgun
享 sock
呉 catapult
甚 crab trap
面 robot
亜 tie fighter
及 escalator
単 witch doctor
頁 (geoduck)
反 devil
介 hut
己 cobra
周 ghost
且 top hat
向 cyclops
未 jet

Raptor cage is never used anywhere else, can be removed.

Thanks for the info. Can I safely start the program though or is there a chance that I will have to go back after the update and relearn many radicals with their new meaning?

So 1. do you think the update will affect, let’s say the first 1-5 levels, heavily and 2. will the main changes be concerning the meanings of radicals or rather the mnemonic stories using the already existing meanings?

@acm2010: Sweet! Thanks for that list!!!
But what do you mean by “you’ll have a problem to remember the radical names later on”? Are you saying that due to the small number (30) of radicals deviating from their kanji counterpart that’s not an issue, but the issue will be to remember the large amount (500) of radicals in general?

If so, well that’s the work that needs to be put in right?

There were some threads on this forum of people not burning “drawer” 母 for example because they completely forgot about this WK radical name after 4 months, only the true meaning remains. Some radicals only appear in a few kanji, and the idea is to forget the radicals at some point and only remember the kanji. You can add synonyms that will be accepted as answers, simply put the right name there.

In the first 10 levels the WK radicals are very simple and and can appear to cover exceptions, for example the “drop” 「丶」 is used when another component “almost fits” but one small stroke is added somewhere. From maybe level 20 the radicals are mostly other kanji that appear as compounds, so you have zero overhead.

I would say because of the small number it’s not an issue, and it’s easy to remember both meanings, the WK option is sufficiently absurd. And the “geoduck” 頁 generates funnier mnemonics than “page” or “head”.

In my opinion there is only a small number of issues with Wanikani’s system, but unfortunately these issues are piling in the first levels so there are lots of complaints, but they are mostly non-issues in the long run (oftentimes even in the short run).

Got it! Again, thanks for the valuable input.