Kanji 31-47. Drop, Walking Stick, Hook

The first two kanji lessons (Lessons 3 and 4) introduced 30 kanji that were all based on the numbers one to ten, plus three very common rectangular kanji: mouth, sun and eye. This lesson will add three new strokes: a short diagonal stroke, known as a ‘drop’, a vertical line, which you can think of as a ‘walking stick’, and a reverse-J shape known as a ‘hook’.
These new strokes can be added to what you already know to make 17 new kanji, as shown below in red.

Lesson 3

Lesson 4
廿 西
+ drop, walking-stick, hook →
Lesson 5


#31. The kanji for ‘rotund’ () is very similar to the kanji for ‘nine'(), but with one extra stroke, a short diagonal that runs down and to the right. We will use the term ‘drop’ for any short diagonal, but in most cases the ‘drop’ will run down and to the left. In some cases, the extra line will be a little longer and less like a ‘drop’.

Some people call this kanji ’round’ but KSP recommends the name ‘rotund’, partly to distinguish it from ‘circle’. A dictionary search for ‘rotund’ will yield this character, but a search for ’round’ usually doesn’t. If you want to edit the keyword back to ’round’, tap the left end of the keyword slot on the KSP app. A keyboard icon will appear; tap it again to edit the keyword. If you want an image of this combination of strokes, consider using the Laughing Buddha. He is often depicted as a rotund, smiling bald man in robes with a large, round, exposed pot belly stomach.


#32. This kanji resembles the kanji for ‘ten’, but it starts with a short leftwards diagonal that many people call a ‘drop’, even though it is quite different to the ‘drop’ in ‘rotund.’ Note that, for this stroke, the general rule of strokes going down, from top to bottom, takes precedence over the rule of strokes running from left to right.

Pick the mnemonic that suits you:
It takes many drops of ten to get to a thousand. (Note that this mnemonic gives you the correct stroke order, ‘drop’ then ‘ten’).
One T = one thousand. ( looks like the kanji for ‘one’ running through a capital ‘T’. This mnemonic may help you remember what ‘one thousand’ looks like, but it doesn’t help with stroke order and direction. The horizontal at the centre does not come first, and the first stroke at the top (the ‘drop’) is not really like the kanji for ‘one’, because the direction is different.)

measuring box

#33. Is it a thousand () or is it ten ()? I need my measuring box.


#34. A white ray is a drop of sun.
Even a small drop (‘) of the sun () would make you see nothing but white.


#35. What is in a mouth () that permits it to speak a thousand () things?


#36. Try one of these mnemonics, or make up your own: Our hero valiantly cut a drop-like mark (‘) on his forehead right above his eye () so that his comrades could tell his true oneself from the enemy.

To use an eyedropper by oneself, aim from above to put a drop (‘) into the eye ().

When used as a component of other kanji, this combination of strokes often means nose, consistent with the Asian habit of pointing to one’s nose to mean oneself, in contrast to the typical Western habit of pointing to one’s chest. You can use a picture of the nose within the KSP app.


#37. 100 turned sideways.
That dirty ceiling () was painted white () a hundred times!


#38. We’re looking for somebody. He has a long nose (), a protuberant mouth with big lips (the exaggerated bottom of , and the diagonal) with an extra long neck (the J shape at the bottom).


#39. Some kanji systems refer to this kanji as ‘rise up’, but it has nothing to do with getting up in the morning or waking up; instead it means rising, like the rising of a salary, or a promotion. You know that your promotion has been approved and your salary has risen when your MEASURING BOX has enough dollar bills in it to reach the SUN.


#40. This kanji is simlar in overall shape to the kanji for hundred (), but the central horizontal line has been replaced by an eye ().
If you’re wearing a mask, a hundred eyes can look at you but none of them will know who you are.


#41. This kanji is is composed of the elements ‘mouth’ and ‘walking stick’ but it’s easier to see it as a simple pictograph in which a vertical line cuts through the middle of a rectangle.

olden times

#42. This kanji looks like the number 18. You could think of it as the 18th century, to convey the notion of ‘olden times’. Or you could see it as two components, walking stick (|) and sun/day ().

18th century = olden times.
The greybeard man with the walking stick kept talking of olden times all day long.


#43. Some see this kanji as a pictograph, with the two bottom strokes representing an arm, and the top bit with the ‘middle’ pattern () showing an insect biting into the arm, sucking some blood. The ‘middle’ element () looks a little like two large eyes and a needle-like sucker.
The insect bit me in the middle () of my arm, sucking out one () drop (‘) of blood.

Others have suggested the image of an insect in the middle of one drop of amber, recalling the mosquito in Jurassic Park.

shish kebab

#44. This is a pictograph of two chunks of meat on a skewer.


#45. This hook-like kanji is often associated with the meaning of ‘fishguts’, but it may be easier to think of it as a fishhook. When a ‘hook’ element appears in other kanji, it can take on forms quite different to this kanji, as shown in the kanji below, looking more like an inverted J or an L.

You can use the fish hook to pull out the fishguts.


#46. You can choose between a violent, literal image of a hook () in a tongue (), or a metaphorical barbed tongue:

The riot police broke up the riot by dragging the rioters away by their tongues () with fishhooks ().
A tongue () with a hook () can cause a riot.


#47. I caught a freaky creature with ten eyes on my fish hook, so I threw it back straightaway.