Spoon radical / ヒ

Okay, so apologies in advance if this is a ridiculously naive question (:see_no_evil:). すみません!

I’ve been drilling katakana a bit lately, and when I got to ヒ, was like, “Wait, isn’t that the spoon radical?!”

Are the kana and kanji the same, or do they just look insanely similar? And if they are the same, what’s that about? So. Many. Questions. Hahaha!

Thanks in advance :pray:

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They are indeed different. If you look at them side by side, it’s easier to tell the difference.

Katakana hi:
Spoon radical:


Ah! ありがとうございます :pray:

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katakana for か: カ, kanji for power: 力
side by side: カ力


And as an aside, one of the names for that radical is indeed spoon in Japanese. The kanji for spoon contains it 匙, though people will call it “katakana hi” more often.


In the same vein: katakana , kanji くち; katakana , kanji こう; katakana , kanji .

There’s many more examples among the radicals, too - the “wolverine” radical is the katakana ヨ, for example, and the “private” radical is katakana ム. Mostly because the katakana were derived from parts of larger kanji, and the radicals are parts of larger kanji.


Aside from the ones you mentioned there’s also ト and ト. WK also uses イ as a radical, which is just a half-width イ. A lot of katakana or katakana-like radicals appear :grin:

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Though the half width イ is actually different from the person radical 亻. I wonder why WaniKani opted to use the half width イ instead. :thinking:


Found this on the wikipedia article on katakana as the roots of the katakana

ps the ones you may not recognize are the now obsolete we and wi katakana


@Gorbit99 @Belthazar @BIsTheAnswer

Oh my gosh! :exploding_head:

Continuing on in the spirit of my initial super rookie question, does this ever become a problem/confusing in the “real world”? This is currently causing my brain to short-circuit, but is that just because we learn these elements somewhat out of a wider context in the early days of Japanese learning?


Most of the time kanji are grouped with other kanji, or particles in hiragana that indicate their grammatical role. Katakana will be grouped with other katakana in full words and names, so you don’t often have to tell a kana from a kanji in isolation.

It’s not impossible to encounter genuinely confusing things, but they are rare. I’ll see if I can think of any.

For instance 口コミ is くちコミ (word of mouth, short for くちコミュニケーション), even though you might be unsure and say ろこみ upon first seeing it. You just have to learn those as you see them.


I heard that Japanese people just have a sense for this, so you can definitely develop it along the way (they apparently notice Japanese fonts made by Chinese people because of this). But generally katakana is very easy to spot and I strongly doubt you’ll see katakana words under 2 or 3 characters, all being quite simple

@Leebo @Gorbit99 ありがとう!

Do you have any advice for how one can go about learning these exceptions or developing this “sense” - especially in the early days of learning? I can imagine I would have immediately thought ろこみ in the example above, for instance.

Well, for exceptions you just have to stumble over them, land on your face, and then slide on your stomach until you get to a dictionary and look it up.

There’s really no other way around it. If you could guess them with regularity they wouldn’t be exceptions.

Experience solves everything, and making mistakes means making progress, as long as you follow through on them.

Natives do this too. They just do it every minute of every day for years before they’ve developed an ego that makes them feel bad about it.


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