Inconsistancy with kanji radicals

A similar topic has been brought up before, but this is a little different.
I know WaniKani sometimes lists kanji as radicals, but this is about the actual radicals it lists for kanji seem to be inconsistent with other websites.
For instance, 夏. Wanikani says it’s made up of the radical for “leaf, eye and winter”. Another website is saying it’s made up of the radicals “eye, walking slowly, oneself and one”.
Which is correct? Is either true?
I know on the grand scale of things it doesn’t matter but it’s been bothering me for a while. I like breaking kanji down to their radicals, but it’s confusing when sources tell me kanji breaks down in to different radicals.

I would say it’s more accurate to say neither is.


Kanji was not invented by English speakers. So of course people use different descriptors to help remember their meaning. While yes they have those meanings, some sources, WaniKani included, would rather you remember the whole kanji so you’re saving time reading the Kanji.

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What WaniKani calls “radicals” isn’t what a linguist or Japanese scholar would call a radical (部首(ぶしゅ)). There would usually be no need for you to learn these “real” radicals unless you plan on doing an in-depth linguistic study of kanji.

WaniKani uses kanji parts as “radicals” and the names they give these kanji parts are usually chosen such that the mnemonic stories for the kanji are easier to remember. Another site would use different names with different stories, etc.

So the names are mostly made up. Sometimes they match up with other resources, other times they don’t. For example, the “扌” is called “hand” in some places, but on WaniKani it’s “fingers”. Like I said, the WK team chose names that help with the mnemonic stories the most, so it’s not worth worrying about what name other websites use for these.


I guess you can technically look it up like this if you really want to? :thinking: But I agree with replies above


Thank you all for responding.
It’s more than just what different websites call the radicals, but the actual radicals itself. I guess I should have including the radicals mentioned. This is for 夏:
WaniKani: image image
I’ve seen the leaf radical (or whatever you want to call it) on other websites listed as a radical, Wanikani recons 夏 contains this radical, but Jisho recons it doesn’t. I’m not sure if I’m explaining this well…
[EDIT] Ok I’ve thought about it a bit, and I think I get it. Compiling what others said too, neither is accurate on the actual radicals. Given actual radicals don’t give much sense to the kanji, it doesn’t really matter lol. I should just learn kanji with whatever mnemonics help. Maybe WaniKani’s radicals are more useful though, as I wanted to learn radicals to help remember meanings in words.

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CatQueen … I hope it has not been bothering you for 5 years :wink:
It’s basically all home-brew around here simply because it works (for English speakers).


There is no point in trying to find consistency regarding “radicals” across different sites. What people have saying here is that you should call Wanikani radicals “apples” and Jisho radicals “bananas”. They are made-up, arbitrary, etc… and sometimes they even change the radicals by introducing new ones or eliminating old ones. If they help you remember the kanji, use them. If not, then don’t use them…

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Kanji generally has been bothering me for 5 years hahah! I got frustrated and gave up, so I’m only just revisiting it. I’ve only been studying Japanese mainly in the summers(ironically) because I’ve been focusing more on my school work but since I’m on gap year I’m studying Japanese more seriously until I join uni.

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Just be aware many kanji are made by taking the meaning of one kanji/radical and the pronunciation of another, which often has no meaning relationship.


Instead of calling them kanji, I would suggest maybe components? Since these in your example might accidentally look like two kanji, not all kanji work that way.

To further clarify why the ‘radicals’ in jisho seem so different from the ones in WK: they serve different purposes. WK aims to break the kanji up into recognizable parts that you can recognize at a glance, and link to meaning and pronunciation, through the use of mnemonics based on those parts.

Jisho wants you to be able to quickly find a kanji you saw somewhere, but don’t know how to read. If you saw 夏 and hadn’t learned it yet, you would either try to write it yourself, or look it up by its components. That is also why both 自 and 目 are listed at the same time.


If you plan to use WK, I suggest just sticking to WK radicals and not bothering to compare them with the radicals of other sites. They won’t be the same.

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