Kanji 14-30. Combinations

The last lesson covered the numbers one to ten, and three simple pictographs: mouth, sun and eye.

This lesson will deal with kanji that can be generated from those first thirteen kanji – that is, you don’t have to learn any complex new stroke patterns in this lesson. Here are the new kanji…



#14. This is a fat version of the kanji for ‘sun’. Some fonts also distinguish ‘sun’ and ‘sayeth’ by having the central line stop short of the right hand edge for ‘sayeth’. As you draw it, think to yourself: ‘I sayeth the sun is fatteth’. Don’t confuse it with ‘speaketh'(), which you’ll meet in the next lesson.

廿 twenty

#15. ‘Ten’ and ‘ten’ makes ‘twenty’. This looks like two ‘ten’ kanji joined together by the lower horizontal line.


#16. This kanji can be built from the kanji for ‘ten’ at the top and the kanji for ‘mouth’ at the bottom. You could remember this with the mnemonic:
You get old fast if you have ten open mouths to feed.

I prefer to see it as a cross and a tombstone marking an old man’s grave.

If you are going to use images with your KSP mnemonics, you’ll need to decide whether you want to mark this combination as two separate radicals (‘ten’ and ‘mouth’) or treat the whole combination as a single combination meaning ‘old’. If you choose to treat it as one image, which is recommended, use a tombstone. Within the KSP app, you can indicate your preference within your typed mnemonic by your choice of image tags: (@1-2 ten)(@3-5 mouth) if you want two images, or (@1-5 old) if you want one image. You can also achieve this by selecting the strokes within the picture-and-kanji view of your mnemonic, then entering a name for the selected strokes. Check out the online online video demo for more details.


#17. 3 tens = 30, and 30 years is about one generation. Take note of the stroke order for this one, as it is a little unusual.


#18. Some kanji teachers, particularly Heisig, call this kanji ‘nightbreak’ but ‘daybreak’ or ‘morning’ appears to be a more natural translation. The kanji appears in 旦夕 たんせき (morning and evening) and in 元旦 がんたん (New Year’s Day). As a mnemonic, think of the bottom line as the horizon, and then it becomes an image of the ‘sun’ rising over the ‘horizon’. In general, even if you are using images in your KSP mnemonics, it is probably better not to assign an image to the single horizontal stroke. A horizontal line already looks enough like the horizon. In other contexts, a similar horizontal line may represent the ceiling, the floor, or the number ‘one’. As always, choose what works for you.


#19. Imagine thomeone who can not pronounth the s and speaketh like thith becauth they have a thpike in their mouth. Remember the difference from sayeth by saying to yourself: ‘Speaketh is spiked.’ Some students use the image of a monkey for this combination of strokes (as in, one of the three monkeys sometimes used to represent: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil).


#20. The sun up is early, well before ten.

rising sun

#21. Nine planets revolve around our rising sun.


#22. The sun spans from horizon to horizon in a day.

西 west

#23. The compass direction ‘west’ is a bit abstract, so picture the American Wild West. That leads naturally to the idea of an empty whiskey bottle, which this kanji resembles. The emptiness of the bottle is important – compare this kanji to ‘alcohol’, which contains an extra line indicating a fluid level.


#24. ‘Five’ times at day, I eat with my ‘mouth’.


#25. For the anatomically inclined, this looks like two vertebral bodies and a spinous process between them. If that image does not work for you, remember that the spine in the neck connects head (upper square) and body (lower square).


#26. This looks like a whiskey bottle with some alcohol still left in it. Some refer to this kanji as the sign of the bird, and if you want to remember that aspect of the kanji, think of a logo on the bottle showing that it is Famous Grouse blended Scotch. Or ask someone: ‘Is there any sign of the bird – you know, the one that drank three quarters of my whiskey bottle and then flew off into the night?’


#27. Two suns, one up and one down. If you work from ‘sun’ up to ‘sun’ down, you will be prosperous.


#28. It is risky to look up at the ‘sun’ with your ‘eyes’. Note that the kanji keeps these elements in the right position, with the sun higher than the eyes.


#29. This kanji is composed of three smaller versions of the ‘mouth’ kanji. You can think of them as three boxes of goods, or keep the idea of the ‘mouth’ by thinking of them as three boxes of edible goods, waiting to be devoured by the hungry mouths of the consumers. Or turn it around and think of it as three hungry mouths, waiting for the goods to arrive.


#30. The correct stroke order can be achieved by drawing the kanji for ‘twenty’, ‘mouth’ and then ‘ten’. Think of your own mnemonic for twenty-mouth-ten. Some suggestions… Twenty mouths are expected to come for dinner, to seat them all, you will need ten leather couches. The leather jacket was worth twenty, but after being slobbered on by a big mouth, it was only worth ten.