Kanji 854-878. Spirit, Boat, Rice


#854. The upper elements of this kanji consist of 气, a radical meaning ‘steam’. The start of the steam radical is the same as ‘recline’, which is followed followed by ‘one’ (), but the next stroke is not really similar to anything we have met so far. Some see it as a version of ‘fish hook’ () but it has a long horizontal without much of a hook, so it is better to remember the whole radical as ‘steam’. It may help to see the lower right diagonal of 气 as the initial jet of steam emerging from a kettle, and then the horizontal elements as the more visible cloud.

Steam Radical

Adding the last two X-like strokes (㐅) completes the kanji for ‘spirit’. Given that X represents the unknown, the kanji becomes a combination of ‘steam’ and the unknown, which is a reasonable metaphor for the intangible spirit.


#855. If you already know the steam radical, 气, this kanji is a logical unions of ‘H2O’ and steam.


#856. A pictograph of a boat.

Kanji for Boat


#857. Cinnabar is a bright red mineral consisting of mercury sulphide. It was used as a pigment, before it was known to be toxic. If the word is unfamiliar to you, it can be thought of as synonym for red. The kanji, by itself, indicates red or rust-coloured earth.


The kanji for ‘cinnabar’ clearly resembles the kanji for ‘boat’, but is missing a drop. (Cinnabar could have been designated the core kanji, with ‘boat’ as a derived kanji, but ‘boat’ is a much more widely used element.) Think of it as a rusty old boat with parts missing.

Rusty Boat


#858. When taking a boat through a whirlwind, it is important to navigate as it is easy to get turned around.


#859. A liner is a like a boat, but big and white.


#860. The upper two diagonal strokes represent chopsticks, and the remainder is tree/wood (). Remember the kanji as: ‘Rice, the plant you eat with chopsticks’, or as ‘Rice, the food you traditionally eat with wooden chopsticks.’


#861. The kanji for request is not a simple combination of known elements. It is often seen as ‘rice’ plus an extra ‘drop’, but the elements of rice have been shifted, with the horizontal above the junction of the diagonals. Some see the lower elements as a variation of ‘water’ (), but the left-most stroke of water, normally shaped like a ‘7’, has been split into two shorter strokes. (氺 is sometimes called したみず, or “water underneath”). KSP recommends combining both ‘rice’ and ‘water’ in your mnemonic, while keeping note of the fact that neither is quite right…

My last request was for food and water, but they gave me one drop of some horrible gruel that was neither rice nor water.


#862. If you part grains of rice, and keep parting them, you get rice-flour.


#863. The new chic restaurant took the nouveau cuisine thing too far, offering tiny artful serves of rice with just 9 or 10 grains.


#864. My fee is one measuring cup full of rice… But I get to provide the cup.


#865. The ‘stand’ element on the right is actually a silo, standing tall above the landscape, full of grains of rice.


#866. A white chrysanthemum resembles bound up rice, as suggested by the picture below.

Kanji for Chrysanthemum

If the ‘grassy’ element is interpreted as ‘flowers’ (which is how Heisig approaches it), then it is simply an indicator that the rest of the kanji describes a particular flower. If you want to stick to the ‘grassy’ meaning, then you will need to incorporate some grass into your image. Note that the image above shows the elements upside down, compared to the kanji. Given that the ‘grassy’ radical is nearly always the top element in a kanji, this should not cause confusion.


#867. Think of a king playing soccer with his subjects. When he requests the ball, you pass it to him no matter what’s going on in the game.


#868. Severance pay is what they give you when you get the axe. Make sure you spend it on a fish hook and some rice, so you can make sushi.


#869. Be warned. At the local rice shop, they put the nice fine rice out for display but the coarse stuff on the shelf is what you end up getting.

Kanji for Coarse


#870. The explanation for the strange sound coming out of the shaku flute was that a drop of rice fell into the mechanism.


#871. The earliest cosmetics were produced by taking overcooked rice and mixing it with the soil from a cave to get something a little like foundation cream.


#872. A pictograph of a rice cake, kept under a glass hood with a small handle in the middle, and presented on a stand. At the core of the cake is a mystery flavour.


#873. Oh dear, it’s my turn to count the drops of rice in the rice field…


#874. A wooden structure, built to safeguard the place from enemies who might come to steal the rice or women.


#875. A rich merchant is about to die. Already his three sons are squabbling over which of them will inherit the family’s silk thread business, the fishery 乚, and the rice business .


#876. Many online mnemonics for this kanji assume it contains the rice element, but as stated by mikeru at koohii.com: Lacquer is a liquid 氵substance that you apply to wood which provides umbrella-like protection against water 氺. (氺 is a form of “water,” not rice. It’s called したみず, lit. “water underneath.”).

sama | Esq

#877. This kanji forms the polite suffix ‘sama’. Think of it as a term meaning a country gentleman of means, who owns wooded lands, livestock (sheep) and other agricultural produce (rice). Heisig’s proposed keyword ‘Esq.’ captures this meaning to some extent, but you might as well associate it with ‘sama’ from the start.


#878. In a formal hearing, there is no free-for-all argument, both sides assemble under the one roof and take turns ().