Radicals you just don't "see"

So, Ii most cases I can definitely see how the radicals resemble what WaniKani is calling them, but recently I unlocked the “spoon” radical.

I just… what? I can’t “see” the spoon in that shape, even the supposedly bent one. I squint. I turn my head. I imagine it from different angles and…

Nope. Still don’t see it. How can a spoon, even a bent one, possibly look like that?! Gah.

Are there any radicals like this for you? That you just can’t make the connection because it just looks nothing like that to your brain?

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I never got that one either, I just brute force memorized it. :stuck_out_tongue:

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It’s kana hi - ヒ. That’s one of the names for it in the New Nelson Kanji dictionary, so that is the synonym I use. Note that I do not use Wanikani mnemonics. If you do, you may need to stick with spoon, IDK.


Glad to know I’m not the only one! At the same time, it’s too bad – I was really hoping someone could explain the spoon thing to me! :smile:

And yeah, the fact that it’s basically the kana ヒ makes it all the more annoying. Maybe I will add that as a synonym as you suggest, tel003a. I do sometimes use the WaniKani mnemonics, though I’m just as likely to make up one of my own if theirs doesn’t work for me.

I changed it to koala or something (looks like something hugging/clinging). Some radicals just don’t work. Either ignore them or change them, as long as you still know the meaning/idea behind it it’s irrelevant what you call it.

Yes, and because for the most part I don’t use WK’s mnemonics, I rename those.

If I recall correctly, “spoon” is ヒ which is also katakana for the “hi” sound. So I renamed it that straight away. Same for other katakana. (I think it is in 疑問.) Yep! That’s what I remembered it from! Otherwise I wouldn’t know.

See, even when WaniKani chooses the “real” name, we get complaints :stuck_out_tongue:

EDIT: BTW, the name comes from the fact that in Japanese it’s a kanji for spoon, though it’s not used very often (and it’s usually just written in kana as さじ anyway) and that’s what they call the radical, “saji no hi” (hi like the one for spoon)


Sorry to ask… I’m a newb… :smiley: but 2 questions:

How much attention do you give to locate the radicals in the Kanjis? I’m just like: “Ok it’s in there yay…most boring part of WK” and move on. Should I pay more attention in order to identify the radicals easier in the future? :confused:

How can you change the meaning of the radicals? Actually, are the WK meanings actually real? I’ve heard that there’s no Japanese official meaning for them because Japanese people don’t learn it the way we’re doing it. Not sure if that’s correct.

Appreciate all the help!


You can add a synonym for any WK item on that item’s page, or when you are reviewing it.

The radicals don’t have official English names, they do have official Japanese names. But the translations will vary based on what you use as a reference.

WK radicals are different from kanji dictionary radicals. They are just used for mnemonics here, so the names really don’t matter.


Really appreciate the quick answer! :slight_smile:

Would knowing the official Japanese names bring me any value as a Japanese learner? Or is it just a fancy thing to know?

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You can use the official names to describe kanji to a Japanese person without writing it down (not wildly useful, but it could happen). Or if you want to take the Kanji Kentei, a kanji proficiency exam aimed at native speakers, there’s a small section worth 5% that requires you to identify the appropriate radical and its official name from a list of possible options :stuck_out_tongue:

You don’t need to know their names to use a paper kanji dictionary, but you would need to know which ones are official and which ones are just kanji parts that WK calls radicals.


Yea… if you’ve got a problem with ヒ, you’re gonna need to lower your standards. WK is rife with radicals that require some imagination.

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Oh I see ^^ Seems like something worth studying for when I start getting comfortable (is that even possible? :scream: ) with Japanese.

Thank you once again! (:

EDIT: I might actually start using the real meanings because I’m just starting. I’ve found on level 2 that the only reason I’m getting some radicals wrong (my accuracy is getting to 100% after the 2nd try on everything else) is because some meanings seem a little off from the Kanji and vocab upgrades. Might just do it right in the first place and add also the Jp one).

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Normally I’m really good with radicals, but for the life of me I can’t see “duck”. It does not look like a duck or a duck face at all for me. I get “Family Name” makes a terrible radical, but still. I just memorized that one.
I mean, I get “horse” and “bird” don’t really look like horses and birds, but duck is just sticking with me. It was the first one that popped into my head. Usually I can at least associate the word so I can be like “Oh, this set of squiggles is a pig, and this set of squiggles is gravity”, but not with duck.

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Whoa! Wait… So it’s actually meant spoon along?

Er… Thanks. I didn’t bother to look that one up because I immediately recognized it as katakana… ^_^; Whereas for so many other radicals, I look up the actual kanji that they later become. Huh. Good to know.



When kanji get a lot more complicated down the road, you will want to be able to see and identify them…

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Yeah, WK doesn’t teach it as kanji because it gets written as kana, and they use スプーン anyway.

Will definitely correct myself on this! Appreciate your time ^^

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Yeah, スプーン is what I’ve heard a lot and seen before. *nods*

*nods* Yeah, even at my level (15, for future reference) I’ve needed to do this for the past few levels at least. Very important for me already, with only 1 radical amid 3 or 4 being different now, and certainly many more the closer we get to 60.

Definitely not a waste of your time being able to at least visually identify the differences here. : D

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