Wolfgang Hadamitzky

Japan-related Textbooks, Dictionaries, and Reference Works

Linguapedia: Radical Tables

The radical table and the rules for how to determine the radical of a kanji that are set forth in a character dictionary are the two main components of the dictionary’s radical system. The radical table presents all the characters and character components that are used as radicals. The table serves above all as an index: Under each radical and its variants is shown where the dictionary lists those kanji that are classified under that radical.

On this page are two examples of a radical table, one for the 214 traditional radicals, and one for the 79 radicals.

R. Hartmann, W. Wernecke: Japanisch-deutsches Zeichenlexikon.
5th edition, Leipzig, Berlin, etc.: Langenscheidt, Verlag Enzyklopädie 1994
1st edition, Leipzig: Verlag Enzyklopädie 1977


The two-page table “Radikalzeichen” (radical characters) lists the 214 radicals, with variants, in their traditional order: in increasing order of stroke count, but with no discernible order within radicals of the same stroke count. The radicals are numbered from 1 to 214. Radicals that appear out of numerical sequence are variants whose basic form is found in sequence under the same number.

M. Spahn, W. Hadamitzky: The Kanji Dictionary.
Tuttle 1996.


These two tables list the 79 radicals in increasing stroke count, without and then with variants. Radicals that have the same stroke count are ordered according to the position they usually assume in a kanji, in the sequence: left, right, top, bottom, enclosure. Among radicals of the same stroke count and same position within the kanji, those that occur most frequently are listed first.

Each radical is named with an identifier that consists of a number followed by a letter. The number (2 to 11) stands for the number of strokes with which the radical is written, and the letter distinguishes one same-stroke-count radical from another. The first radical is called 2a, and the last radical is called 11b. Each kanji, in turn, is identified by its radical followed by a decimal number. For example, the kanji 休 is referred to as the kanji 2a4.2: The 2a stands for the radical 亻, the 4 is the residual stroke count (the number of strokes in the rest of the kanji), and the 2 after the decimal point is a running number that distinguishes this kanji from all the other kanji in the group 2a4 of kanji whose radical is 2a and whose residual stroke count is 4. So the “descriptor” 2a4.2 provides the following information: The kanji’s radical is 2a (which consists of two strokes and usually constitutes the left half of the kanji), its residual stroke count is 4 (so that the kanji as a whole consists of 2+4 = 6 strokes), and it is listed in second place among all the kanji that have this same radical and same residual stroke count.

Both 79-radical tables are also used in The Learner’s Kanji Dictionary, in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Surnames and How to Read Them, and in Kanji & Kana.

October 2005, W.H. with Mark Spahn

Wolfgang Hadamitzky

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