Kanji 67-80. Hand, Human Legs, Animal Legs

The theme of this lesson is limbs – more specifically, the human hand, and two types of legs, human and animal.

As you will see, the ‘hand’ element comes in two main forms, a multi-fingered form () that is a crude pictograph of a hand, and a simplified form like the upper two strokes of ‘right’ (). The second form is sometimes taken to mean ‘by one’s side’ but let’s just call it the ‘side hand’.

The two different types of legs have already been mentioned because they featured in Lesson 3 (in the characters for ‘four’ and ‘six’). ‘Human legs’ consist of a slightly curved stroke followed by a longer, curvier inverted J, like the bottom two strokes of ‘see'(). ‘Animal legs’ consist of two straight strokes, like the bottom two strokes of ‘shellfish’ ().

Lesson 3
Lesson 4 曰廿古世旦申早旭亘舌西吾呂酉昌冒品革
Lesson 5 丸千升白自百身昇面中旧虫串乙乱直
Lesson 6 上下止占正卓人入仁不否仲但伯価値企谷俗
+ hand, human legs, animal legs →
Lesson 7 手右看元兄兆見児克只貝貞頁員


#67. The ‘hand’ kanji is supposed to be a pictograph, and it almost works as a picture of a hand if see it as a the top stroke as a shirt cuff, and the rest of the kanji as a hand with fingers spread and the middle finger pointing down. Like the character for one thousand (), the very first stroke slopes down and to the left. If you find yourself forgetting that, the following mnemonic may be useful:

A hand is useful for (1001) things.


#68. This kanji introduces the ‘side hand’, a two-stroke element that resembles a diagonal forearm reaching up and to the right, and a bizarrely stretched hand consisting of three fingers. The two strokes outline a space, which in this kanji contains a mouth. In other kanji you will meet, the space may contain a carpenter’s set-square, a moon, or still stranger elements.

The right hand is for putting food in your mouth ().

watch over

#69. Think of a sunny day, and you are outside without any sunglasses. To watch over your children, you need to put you hand over your eyes.

If you have seen the movie Pan’s Labyrinth, think of the monster with eyes in his hands that watched over the secret feast.


#70. An animal with only a mouth and legs.


#71. The shellfish with the two feelers poking out looks like an eye with legs.

This kanji can take on a variety of meanings, including ‘clam’ as an adult euphemism, or ‘money’. The ‘money’ connotation derives from the ancient practice of using cowrie shells as currency.


#72. Wand.. clam… upright. Work it out for yourself.


#73. This kanji has two distinct meanings:’page’, which is what we’ll call it, but also ‘head’, which is the meaning it often assumes when used as an element within other kanji. Try to incorporate both meanings in your mnemonic.

A shellfish carrying a page balanced on its head.


#74. To keep your job as an employee, sometimes you just have to take your mouth and clam it up.


#75. Sometimes known as ‘origin’ but here we’ll call it ‘beginning’. Each of us has our beginning between two human legs.

elder brother

#76. The kanji is known as ‘elder brother’ but you might find it more vivid to picture a ‘teenager’ in your mnemonics.

My elder brother is a teenager, and like other boys his age he is basically a a mouth on legs.

Don’t confuse it with ‘only’ (), which has animal legs instead.


#77. The two large strokes in the middle of this kanji resemble the ‘human legs’ element, and the shorter strokes can be thought of as hairs.

A bad portent makes the hairs on your legs stand up.

When used as an element within other kanji, this pattern can be remembered as ‘turtle’. The arrangement of lines is vaguely similar to the pattern on a turtle shell, and (with some imagination) the kanji can by seen as a creature with a four legs sticking out to the side, a short tail at the top, and a curved neck creating a reverse J shape at the bottom. (One line ends up unaccounted for – ignore it, or use your imagination. Maybe the turtle is on a leash.)


#78. Adding the human legs to ‘eye’ turns it into a verb.

All you need to see the world are eyes and legs.

newborn babe

#79. The top component of this is ‘olden times’, which looks like a squared off ’18’. For the sake of a mnemonic, we can use the ’18’ instead of the ‘olden times’.

When the newborn babe reaches 18 months, we expect it will be walking around on its human legs.


#80. Ten older brothers can overcome anything!