Kanji 349-382. Tusk, Claws, Father, Shaku, Family Name, Heart

This lesson continues a 3-part series on core kanji with four strokes. It will introduce the following kanji, along with combinations using those kanji.

tusk (fang)
family name


#349. (Also known as ‘fang’). Try to see this kanji as a pictograph of an elephant with tusks. The box-shaped upper part is the elephant’s eye, the curved loop is the trunk, and the diagonal stroke is the tusk.


#350. Combnes the ‘grassy’ radical and tusk.

The elephant’s tusks were all grassy because it kept scraping the ground looking for buds.


#351. A pictograph of Wolverine-style claws. For mnemonic images, choose a bird-of-prey such as an eagle, or your favourite clawed monster.


#352. The ‘melon’ kanji is very similar to ‘claws’ but it adds a short horizontal and curve. Picture a giant vegetarian eagle that has grabbed a whole branch off the melon tree – the horizontal is the branch, and the melon is there at the end.


#353. She may look gentle but that woman scratches like an eagle!


#354. Ann archer practises shooting at melons, trying to predict the required arc, which varies depending on how far away the melon is.


#355. Child plus melon. Think of a poor orphan child who doesn’t ever get to suck on a melon.


#356. Two lightsabres clashing as Darth Vader shouts, Luke, I am your father!


#357. Your father dons a top hat and mingles with the crowd.


#358. There are two different options for advancing: actually have merit, or simply mingle with the powerful.


#359. Heisig calls this ‘exam’, but ‘school’ may be a more natural choice. Examples… 校長 means principal (lit. school chief); 中学校 means middle school, or junior high school (lit. middle study school).

I first learned this kanji as ‘tree’+’six’+ ‘X’, and pictured students at some country school sitting under a tree learning their six-times (6x) table.

If you would prefer to note that it is also tree-plus-mingle, think of the school students mingling together under the trees during recess. If you would like to keep the Heisig keyword of ‘exam’ in the picture, have the students mingling under the trees as they read their exam results pinned to a tree.


#360. The ‘shakuhachi’ (尺八、しゃくはち) is a flute, so G-rated mnemonics should use shakuhachi, but take care because this kanji and the word ‘shaku’ is slang for fellatio (partly as a reference to flute-playing, and possibly because it works as a pictograph).

The character also looks quite like the letter R, which can be used to remind you that another set of meanings relates to ‘Ruler’ (rule, measure, length). Sometimes it ma be easier to treat it as the letter ‘R’ when making mnemonics.


#361. The two drops below the ‘R’ do not look like the typical ice radical, which is usually on the left hand side, but they are close enough for mnemonic purposes.

A woman played on her shakuhachi so long she had to ice her jaw afterwards.


#362. When hiding from the enemy underwater in a swamp, just use your shakuhachi flute poking up out of the water as a snorkel.


#363. The shaku element at top represents ‘R’ for ‘Rooster’. Picture a rooster crowing at daybreak () to signify the start of daytime.

family name

#364. The folks at koohi.com have come up with two good mnemonics for this kanji. Someone noted that it looks a bit like ‘Ft’, which could be an abbreviation of ‘Family title’, implying ‘family name’.
Another koohi student wrote this story, which breaks the kanji into its components: “The family name is important to me! Drop me from a building, torture me with a fishhook, I’m keeping my one family name. Hook me with a second fishhook, I refuse to change my family name.”


#365. I see this kanji as a dude walking to the right, and that is enough to make me think of ‘people’.

To make use of the fact that this kanji includes ‘mouth’ () and ‘family name’ (), you could also imagine all the people in the world shouting out their family names, all at once.


#366. If that person sinks any lower, his family name will be on the floor.


#367. The people of Middle Earth cannot sleep because the eye of Mordor is watching them.


#368. A pictograph of a heart. Four strokes for four chambers.

Note that there are a couple of simplified forms of this kanji that appear as radicals in other kanji, including a tall, 3-stroke version we will meet below in the kanji for ‘busy’ and ‘constancy’, and the 4-stroke version shown below. (The kanji shown is ‘annexed’, but you don’t need to learn it now.)



#369. The notion of being invariable and constant is captured int he expression ‘Cross my heart and hope to die’, symbolised here with a line through a heart.


#370. The three strokes on the left of this kanji represent an abbreviated form of the ‘heart’ element. This 3-stroke combination can be though of as ‘state of mind’, in view of the common tendency to see the heart as the seat of emotion.

I see this kanji as a plea for work-life balance. If you are too busy, your state of mind is filled with nothing but chores, and you might as well be deceased ().


#371. To forget someone means they are deceased () in your heart.

Take care not to confuse this with ‘busy’, which also combines a heart-like radical with ‘deceased’.


#372. A samurai’s intentions must be true to his heart.


#373. This character is used in the compound (ninja). A ninja must be able to endure great hardship, and turn all their attention to their assassin’s life, making a blade of their heart.


#374. The kanji appears to retell the tale of Cleopatra, who was mourning the death of Marc Antony and placed an asp snake to her heart. If you are not familiar with Cleopatra, simply imagine that mourning feels like snake has bitten your heart.


#375. You are loyal to something if it is in the middle () of your heart ().


#376. Try carrying water around in a cloth bag – invariably (), the H2O will ooze out.


#377. If you like to use ‘rice paddy’ () as an element meaning brain, then this is easy: to think is to use your brain () instead of your heart (). If you prefer to keep the ‘rice paddy’ meaning, then imagine a heart broken farmer, sitting at the edge of his rice paddy, thinking all day of his loved one.


#378. State of mind, combined with ‘span’ ().

Constancy is holding a single state of mind over a span of time.


#379. Guy and heart.

Remember the kanji for ‘guy'(). Some guy stole your woman () and you were so angry you kicked him in the crotch ()… This kanji represents that anger, which you carried in your heart long afterwards.


#380. Physiological diagram. Your breath brings oxygen in through your nose ( ) which is then pumped around by your heart ().


Do yourself a favor and take ten minutes to think about your decision.


Enlightenment is the state of mind you obtain when you are no longer aware of your ‘I’ ()