‘Rules’ are just general patterns. They’re not something that can’t be broken. In these two cases though, you’re just seeing an example of one particular pattern: how to write a 土 that appears at the bottom of a kanji. (And by 土, I don’t mean a radical; I just mean a set of strokes that forms that shape.) Why is the stroke order for it like that (vertical, horizontal, horizontal) even though the stroke order for 土 on its own is horizontal, vertical, horizontal? I’d say the answer is flow. Just so you know, in Chinese, the standard script stroke order for 王 is what you’re thinking about (horizontal, horizontal, vertical, horizontal = HHVH), but in semi-cursive script, it’s the same as in Japanese, because it’s easier to write fast. (If you do HHVH fast, the base of the vertical stroke is going to curve off to the left, and that’s ugly. There’s an aesthetic preference for central vertical strokes with a sense of ‘stability’ in calligraphy. With HVHH, the vertical stroke is easier to stabilise, and you can write the last two horizontal strokes fast because there’s no change of direction.)
Honestly though, you’ll get used to how things are done over time. I don’t usually talk too much about stroke order in Japanese because I know that there are slight differences between Chinese and Japanese stroke order, and I don’t want to give anyone incorrect information. However, my impression is that Japanese stroke order generally matches Chinese semi-cursive stroke order, and since I learnt to write semi-cursive on my own, that’s what I use. Anyhow, just go through kanji writing bit by bit with a sensible stroke order system (i.e. any set of standard stroke orders), and work on writing neatly (or even look into calligraphy, if you’re interested), and you’ll be fine. Not to boast, but even if there are stroke order differences, my Japanese teacher (from Japan) keeps saying my handwriting reminds her of her grandfather’s, and he was a calligraphy teacher, so as long as someone follows mostly the same stroke order and the same aesthetic principles, the results will be about the same.
Ok, got it. You answered thoroughly to my question, I just didn’t expect exceptions so soon with the simplest kanji like king and rice field, so I thought I was missing something. I’ll trust your advice of not worrying about it and just keep the general rules in mind, thank you Jona!
I don’t think that’s really an issue. For standard script in Chinese, the stroke order requires that the central horizontal stroke be written before everything else inside the box, so it’s permitted by one major group of Sinogram users. Even if we’re just sticking to Japanese stroke order, 用 and 困 also involve ‘closing the box’ before making a vertical stroke. Also, I think it’s good to know that aesthetically speaking (though I’m pretty sure this doesn’t affect whether or not a kanji is recognised as correct), often enough, horizontal strokes inside a box are often kept away from the edges, so there isn’t really any sort of ‘closing off’.
Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you’re getting at though. Do you have any examples of ‘closing the box’ being avoided?
For 困, bottom horizontal stroke is last, isn’t it? But for用, that one does seem to close the box first, but I wonder if that’s due to the simplification from an earlier character where the middle strokes didn’t quite touch the internal edges?
Other than characters like 困 where the inside character is complete before closing the box so to speak I don’t really have any concrete examples. It was something I observed and you probably have more experience with writing than I do, so I’m happy to be proven wrong if that’s the case.