Radical shape not exact for kanji

Hello - I’m tuabiht, a new user of WaniKani.

I’m currently level doing level 3, hoping to continue all the way to the end. (I have a JLPT N3, so for the moment it is more a useful review than real and hard learning).

I have a problem with some of the radicals. Not with the names of them (I saw that it is possible to add synonyms, so it’s fine), but with the shape which is sometimes linked to kanji which do not match imho.

For example Nailbat (level 3) is said to appear in the kanji 北 (hoku) - but in the kanji the small bars are not crossing the vertical line, while in the radical the small bars are clearly traversing the vertical line. As far as I know, the “topology” of the kanji (which lines cross which, which are simply touching etc.) is very important, in contrast with the exact angles, lengths, etc. which can vary a lot.

Another example which makes me useasy is linking the triceratops radical to the 半 (han) kanji. In the han kanji, there is no small bar at the top in the middle (it is just one stick on the whole length of the kanji), so connecting the triceratops radical to thsi kanji seems a bit misleading imo.

What do you think about it ? Am I overeacting to small details (or having wrong assumptions about kanjis)? Currently I am afraid that using radicals to learn kanjis I don’t know might lead me to some (small) errors.


The WaniKani radicals are just to help people who have no point of reference to Japanese make connections. If you care about how to write the kanji, or the dictionary radicals Japanese people learn, another resource would be more appropriate for you.

BTW, the bottom line in the left side of 北 can indeed cross the vertical line. I wouldn’t base anything strictly on computer fonts.



Ooo, ooo, think the one that bugs me the most is that the radical 易, “gravity”, is introduced as “sun” plus “wing”. Except that aside from the kanji 易 itself, literally every single other use of the radical on WaniKani has a “ground” between the “sun” and the “wing” - that is, like 場.


I read this and realized I had never even thought about. Coming from someone who is very new to Japanese like me. I started with hiragana and katakana just about a month ago and have been doing wanikani since shortly after I learned those. I just assumed that things would always have variations depending on who wrote it, the font it was written in etc. So I just make myself learn it the way it is presented and if there is a variation just learn that like I would if it was the sound of a word, not just a visual version of it. It was pretty interesting to me when I saw what you were talking about but it hasn’t even crossed my mind yet, not sure if it is because I am so new to everything or if it is just the way I learn specifically? Anyway, TLDR, thanks for the interesting commentary on it, it gave me a new perspective.

1 Like

Thank you for your reply.

Yes, you are right that computer fonts can show differences with hand-written kanjis.I guess I will simply continue my study with WK, and check the kanji writing in other sources when I’m in doubt.

1 Like

There is also a script for WK that changes the font used for kanji during reviews: Jitai. That way you get to see them differently over time. I’m really liking it.


+1 for your use of the word “topology”. I like that word.


Thanks - it looks interesting, I will give it a try.


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.