Kanji 647-663. Swirls (Wind and Stamp).

This lesson will introduce a set of primitives that vaguely resemble each other and potentially could cause confusion.

The ‘wind’ radical (wind as in the blowy stuff, not as in winding a watch) consists of the hood-like shape (⺇) making up the outer border of the ‘wind’ kanji (). Some kanji incorporate a narrower version (几) – this narrow version is occasionally referred to as ‘table’ instead of ‘wind’, but the distinction is not very useful and will only make it harder to remember the kanji. It won’t take long before you see that shape as synonymous with ‘wind’, so it is hardly worth making up a mnemonic, but see it if you like as a line showing the direction a horizontal wind must take if it encounters a resistance like a mountain or a building.

Kanji for Wind

‘Stamp’ and the two different forms of ‘chop seal’ relate to marks or seals on the outside of letters. The main difference between ‘stamp’ and the first form of ‘chop seal’ is that the ‘chop seal’ primitive has the horizontal line poking out more to the left. (I remember this through the unimaginative observation that the longer name ‘chop seal’ refers to the longer horizontal.) When ‘chop seal’ occurs above another character, it adopts a smaller angular form that resembles the katakana MA (マ). The small form is not just a tilted version of the larger form, it is fundamentally different in the way the two strokes are arranged: the longer curved path goes past a T-junction in the large form, but it ends in a T-junction in the second form. In fact, if it weren’t for the historical relationship between these two forms, there would be no real reason to consider them the same primitive.

‘Stamp’ looks a little like the kanji for ‘sword’ (), but ‘sword’ has a sweeping diagonal instead of a vertical, and the vertical of ‘stamp’ is usually long enough to make it look like a ‘p’.

‘Clothes hanger’ is simply a mnemonic term for a minimalist curved stroke that looks like the curved part of ‘stamp’, but without the vertical line.

‘Receipt’ is an anticlockwise swirl resembling the clockwise swirl of ‘chop seal’. ‘Fingerprint’ is another anticlockwise swirl, given a modern name because of its resemblance to the whorls of a fingerprint.

Some of these shapes will not lead to many new kanji just yet, but we will return to them later in the overall joyo kanji sequence.


#647. Combines the ‘wind’ radical with a poor insect caught up in the wind.


#648. I didn’t realise how mediocre I was until the coach said my contribution was like a drop of piss in the wind.


#649. I was wearing one of those ridiculous, superfluous paper party crowns when, luckily, the wind blew it away.


#650. The moon has its interesting texture because of there is no wind up there to erode the impact craters.


#651. Why I didn’t do my homework: , 几, .


#652. My biggest fear is that my cardiac surgeon is mediocre at his craft.


#653. This is one of several kanji that uses the mountain symbol above another kanji to upgrade it to a bigger better version… becomes , becomes , and now becomes .


#654. The ‘whirlwind’ combination consists of a wind wearing a lid or top hat (as if it fancies itself as a rather special wind, which it probably is). The combination is used in a few other kanji, though we’ll only meet one of them here.

A pit was formed when the soil () was blown away by a whirlwind (亢).

sign of the hare

#655. This odd-shaped kanji has ‘receipt’ on the left and ‘stamp’ on the right. It reminds me of a hare with two large ears, but you can make up a mnemonci sing ‘receipt’ and ‘stamp’ if you like.


#656. A hare plus two small drops representing Easter eggs.


#657. This kanji combines ‘chop seal’ and ‘male’ ().

Picture a primitive initiation rite for males involving great courage… The successful males are given a chop-seal mark on the top of their head as a sign of their courage.


#658. It is easy to come up with a mnemonic involving meat, stamp and crotch, but this kanji can be seen as a pictograph of all the places you might find clothing around the house: in the shelves on the left, hanging on a hook, or on the ironing board. (Just remember it is the ‘moon’ primitive that provides the shelves, not ‘moreover”, the usual shelf primitive, and the ‘hook’ is actually ‘stamp’.)


#659. News report: Martha the bikini model has released a new line of bikinis called ‘Happiness’, stamped with her personal logo.


#660. This is not a film director, but a manager.

We can take the chance to note that the ‘hanger’ primitive is a single-stroke element that looks quite like the two-stroke ‘street’ element (), and this kanji therefore resembles ‘one’ () and ‘can’ ()…

The director is the one whose mouth can get things done.

pay respects

#661. Every person should pay their respects to the director of the company.


#662. “Tree’ plus ‘sign of the hare’.

A willow is a tree with long branches that droop like the ears of a hair.


#663. I pushed my wife of a cliff, cleaned up the crime scene beautifully, faked up a fantastic alibi… but got unlucky with the fingerprints.