Stroke Order, or Wait, why are those different?

I don’t see any active threads about stroke order so here goes!


First question - 力 (Jisho) and 九 (Jisho) are REALLY similar in appearance…and they’re both two strokes…but the two strokes are in reverse order! Why?


Not only that, but for historical reasons, the stroke orders of 左 and 右 start differently although they look quite similar:


Well, the 𠃌 backwards hook in 力 leads up to the 丿 stroke, whereas the ㇈ hook in 九 leads off in the other direction. As for why not always start off with 丿 - I don’t know for sure, but maybe because it usually feels better to have a vertical stroke cutting through an existing horizontal stroke than the other way around?

左/右 is one of several cases where Japanese stroke order differs from the original Chinese, where they’re both horizontal first. I’ve heard that calligraphy in Japan still tends to use traditional Chinese ordering.


I did not know that. It seems that the origins of both kanji are to blame:


I read somewhere that you do the horizontal stroke of 左 first because the first stroke of エ is horizontal, but the vertical stroke of 右 first becaude the first stroke of ロ is vertical, but I can’t remember if that’s a kanji rule-of-thumb or just a mnemonic for this particular instance.

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I’m surprised, but looking up a few more cases: maybe it is a rule! The same seems to apply to 有, which is written horizontal first in Chinese but slash first in Japanese, while 友 is horizontal first in both languages.


At the end of the day, unless you’re doing calligraphy or taking the Kanji Kentei, you don’t need to think about stroke order. The general principles are fine.

People will sometimes say that a Japanese person snickered at them for getting the stroke order wrong or something, but that’s just a case of “you can’t control what a**holes are going to do.” Japanese people get stroke order wrong too, so anyone laughing about it is just being rude.


Despite looking the same, their original radicals are a bit different : Here are the original scripts:


You can read more about it on here: 右と左はなぜ書き順が違うのか: ほぼ文字についてだけのブログ(tonan's blog改) (Its in Japanese)
In a nutshell, they had different ‘shapes/rotations’ for each part that felt more natural to use that stroke order, than it is now.


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