1 Stroke Kanji Radicals

1-Stroke Kanji Radicals

“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” – Will Durant

We’re going to start with the simplest radicals of all… the 1-stroke radicals. There’s going to be a couple of steps to all of this.

First, you’ll need to learn how to learn radicals. For that, all you need to do is follow along with the text and try to do what it asks you to do. Some things may seem weird, some things may seem unnecessary, but I’ll try my best to always explain why you’re doing something until you see the results for yourself. If you just follow along, though, you should be fine.

Second, you’ll need to learn the radicals themselves. If you follow step one, you should be fine.

With that, you should just get started. The more experience you have learning the radicals, the easier they’ll be to learn! Let’s do this thing.

1-Stroke Radicals

One / Ground

This radical consists of a single, horizontal stroke. We’re going to use our imagination a little here (to help you remember this radical). Pretend it’s an English #1, but it was shot and has fallen over on its side. You rush over to it but it’s too late. It’s rigid and laying flat on its back. Imagine the smell of gunpowder coming from the bullet wound. Forever will the image of #1, on its side, be burned into your memory. This is murder! Number ONE is on its side and laying on the GROUND. When you see this radical, you should think of the number “one” or the “ground” (it looks like the floor, too, right?).


This is a single stick, standing upright. It even looks like a STICK! Don’t confuse this with the “one” radical. Remember, #1 was murdered, and is laying on the ground. This STICK was the bastard who shot #1 to take his place. Doesn’t this STICK make a good #1 impostor?

Drop Of Liquid

Sure, it’s a little rigid looking, but when you see this, think of it as a drop of liquid. It’s pretty small, and basically just a little dash when you write it. The drop is heavy and falling at high speed from West to East, because all the wind blowing in from the Pacific Ocean (you’re in Seattle, WA, where it rains a lot!). There are a lot of DROPS OF LIQUID in Seattle.


When I say “slide,” I mean the kind of slide you sit on and slide down. This radical is a big long curve, going down from right to left, because you want to SLIDE into the Pacific Ocean from Seattle, where you’re at (you know, where all those drops of liquid are). Whee!


If you look at this radical right, you’ll see a NOSE (with an eye on the left). Remember, everything about this radical is to the left: The eye is on the left, the nose points to the left, and you start writing it from the left. Even the NOSE is all alone, left behind by the rest of its face.


This radical is shaped like a BARB (like in BARB wire). Imagine one of these stuck in your arm, and think about how much it would hurt if you had to pull it out (really, try to imagine the pain, and really vividly imagine the shape of this radical being pulled out of your arm. Ouch!). You definitely wouldn’t want to get poked by a BARB like this.


See the hook? It faces to the right, because it’s on a pirate’s right hand. Why? Because most pirates are right handed, so when they fight with a sword they use their right hand (and therefore he got his right hand cut off in battle). Anyways, this is a hook. It faces right because pirates are right handed… or should I say “right hooked” har har har.

Congratulations! You’ve learned all the 1-stroke radicals! You only have one more set of radicals (2-stroke ones) before you can move on to the actual kanji! Keep up the good work!

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