Kanji 398-434. Eleven-stroke Combinations

You might not have noticed, but all the kanji we’ve met in the previous lessons have had ten strokes or less. We’re about to change that. Simply by using elements you’ve already learned, but allowing the stroke count to reach eleven, we can now access 37 new kanji. We could have included them earlier, but meeting these kanji now allows us to review a lot of old material while still making headway through the joyo kanji. As you revise those earlier kanji, and add the 37 new kanji, you will consolidate and cross-link the old material with the new. We’ll do something similar in the next few lessons, extending the stroke count to twelve strokes, thirteen strokes, and so on.

First, a quick summary of what we’ve covered. With respect to core kanji, we have met all of the 1-stroke, 2-stroke, 3-stroke and 4-stroke kanji, as well as two core kanji with 5 strokes: eye () and rice paddy (). That is, we’ve gone well beyond the halfway mark in covering the core kanji, and now know 56 of 79. Here they are:

1 one {1}

2 hook {1}

3 seven {2}

4 eight {2}

5 nine {2}

6 ten {2}

7 person {2}

8 mata {2}

9 spoon {2}

10 power {2}

11 sword {2}

12 fist {2}

13 street {2}

14 mouth {3}

15 soil {3}

16 genius {3}

17 craft {3}

18 self {3}

19 stream {3}

20 mountain {3}

21 small {3}

22 of {3}

23 long time {3}

24 bow {3}

25 dry {3}

26 large {3}

27 evening {3}

28 woman {3}

29 child {3}

30 inch {3}

31 sun {4}

32 hand {4}

33 tree {4}

34 moon {4}

35 water {4}

36 fire {4}

37 writing {4}

38 axe {4}

39 one-sided {4}

40 cow {4}

41 tusk {4}

42 claw {4}

43 father {4}

44 shaku {4}

45 family name {4}

46 heart {4}

47 lack {4}

48 beforehand {4}

49 measuring cup {4}

50 well {4}

51 mutually {4}

52 sign of the cow {4}

53 fur {4}

54 circle {4}

55 eye {5}

56 rice paddy {5}

We’ve also met several non-kanji elements, or ‘primitives’. Unfortunately, there are over 150 of these (depending on how you count them), and we have only met 24. On the other hand, many of them are simple and look like the thing they are named after. Before proceeding, check that you can conjure up the following primitives by name alone:

walking stick
animal legs
human legs
long hair
fence posts
state of mind

(*sapling and Valentine have been mentioned because of their similarity to ‘heaven’ and ‘heart’ but we have not yet met kanji that use them. Both will feature in ‘annexed’ , below).

This is a long lesson, but everything that follows can be constructed from the stroke patterns in those two tables, and in nearly every case the stroke order is pretty much what you would expect if you work from left to right and from top to bottom, completing one element at a time. What you need to concentrate on, then, are the stories that combine those elements. Don’t just read them, really picture them in vivid detail. If the underlying material is not fixed well in your mind, go back to those earlier lessons first. Good luck.


#398. Picture someone chanting, mouth open, for two consecutive days.

place on the head

#399. Can’t go past this pun from koohi.com:

If I put a street sign on my head what do I get ? A place on the head!


#400. Another fine pun from koohi.com:

This kanji refers to land (), not the strange () gear superheroes wear.


#401. This is a pictograph of a sauna. Water on the left, two fires on the right. All set up to help you get thin.


#402. Don’t make a mnemonic involving ‘little’ and ‘moon’ – use the chance to refresh your memory of ‘resemblance’. This kanji refers to the tips of branches as much as it does to treetops, but the point is the same: consistent with the fractal aesthetic so often found in nature, treetops and branch tips show a strong resemblance () to the initial tree ().


#403. The staring eye () of Mordor is an ominous portent () of trouble to come in Middle Earth.


#404. The English keyword is ambiguous, but the kanji could be translated as ‘present, current, existing or actual’. (It has nothing to do with gifts.)

The king () uses his crystal ball to see () the present () state of affairs across the land.


#405. The symbol on the right comes from the kanji for ‘parent’s house'() but is more easily remembered as pictograph of a desktop computer. That ties neatly into the notion of ‘logic’.

The king () of logic () is the computer ().


#406. This kanji combines elements logically:

A ford is generally a place where one can walk () through water because it is not too deep.


#407. You could take the chance to review ‘descendants’ (), here, and perhaps combine it with the idea of mixing body fluids, but the combination of H2O, sun () and compare () suggests the following mnemonic:

The botanist exposed his plants to different mixes of water and sun, then compared the results.


#408. Pedestrians, remember this: cars () are hard, lacking () softness.


#409. My opponents are dead () meat () – my ambition is to be king ().


Formerly, a horned animal like an ox was used to plough the rice paddy (), and it took all day (). Now we have robots for that.


#411. Afflicted with severe heartburn, he tried the spicy shish kebab () but it felt like it was skewering through his heart ().


#412. When the eminent () table-tennis player lost one arm, everyone’s state of mind turned to lamentation.


#413. This kanji combines H2O on the left, something that looks similar to ‘heaven’ () at top right, along with a radical derived from heart (), which we will call Valentine. The heaven-like element is not actually ‘heaven’ – the first stroke of the element runs down and to the left, instead of horizontally to the right. Some people call this element ‘sapling’.

While in the annex watering saplings, you find a valentine card amongst them – addressed to you! [Katsuo at koohi.com]


#414. This kanji combines the H2O radical and ‘uncle’ (). Take a moment to review your ‘uncle’ mnemonic, and then picture your uncle swimming gracefully in the H2O.


#415. Grassy, claws and tree.
My girlfriend has had me on a vegetarian diet… I can’t stand it any more. All night I dream I am a clawed animal, hiding below the long grass, or sitting on top of a tree, waiting to pounce on some decent food! Note that this mnemonic describes the relative positions of the radicals.


#416. I am afraid this is a picture of September 11. All other mnemonics crumble into insignificance.


#417. A promontory is a strange mountain, jutting into the sea.


#418. Parting () with your money () leads to poverty ().


#419. Picture a man who has not been in contact with a valley for a while and is filled with longing, looking at pictures of valleys, and so on.

old woman

#420. Waves and woman.
Over the years, as the waves (wrinkles) appeared on her face, the woman realised she had become an old woman.

mountain stream

#421. A husband goes to fetch water (H2O) from a mountain stream () but comes back covered in scratches (claws). He tries to explain that he fell in the water and was attacked by a clawed animal. Sure, says his wife, so how do you explain the lipstick?


#422. Go back to the 1950s. The husband’s () way of seeing () things is the standard () point of view.


#423. Step, daybreak, inch/glue.
If you step outside at daybreak (), instead of staying glued () to your bed, you will gain a bit more time each day.


#424. Person and ‘upright’ ().
The first rule of being a spy – pretend to be a person () who is completely upright () and law-abiding, so they never suspect you.


#425. When expensive stuff is freighted around, a lot of money () changes () hands.

Watch out for ‘fare’ , which has similar elements.


#426. Grassy, someone.
Bob Marley, the renowned reggae singer, was someone who was always under the influence of grass.



#427. The keyword is ambiguous, but refers to the water’s edge or beach. (We cannot use the keyword ‘beach’ because it is reserved for .)
When you go to the water’s edge (H2O), on some strand () of sand, you cast aside your work and other attachments and just become an anonymous ‘someone’ ().


#428. Take this bottle of alcohol () and have 9 () or 10 () shots… What are you now?


#429. The plains are an awkward place to try to use your desktop computer, so make sure you download the Android kanji app beforehand.


#430. If you hold your measuring cup () on a diagonal slant, then you might measure out ‘too much’ () – and possibly ‘too little’ ( ).


#431. It’s really heavy (), so to move it will require lots of power ().


#432. Claws, tree and shapely long hair.
This is a hippie, with coloring () in her shapely long hair, long uncut nails (), and a save-the-trees badge ().


#433. I have this shower. First the H2O is too hot, then its too cold, and by the time I get it adjusted () to vaguely the right temperature, my time is up and the shower is finished ().


#434. Another return to the sexist past:
For a woman (), it is expected that she will get a new family name () on the day () of her marriage ().