Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What do we call the different types of strokes of kanji/kana in Japanese?

For example, in Chinese the left-downward stroke is called 撇[piě] and the right-downward stroke is called 捺[nà]. And if I wanted to describe what looks like, I would say (in Chinese) "一个撇, 一个捺".

Are the Japanese names for strokes commonly used? I would assume so since it's a rather convenient way (for me at least) to describe what a Chinese character looks like in the absence of any writing material to show it (alternatively I could write in the air). Can I similarly describe kanji using Japanese names for the strokes?

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

These stroked are called 筆画, and as for kanji, it is traditionally said that there are eight types of strokes (I copied the words from the webpage that I linked below):

1) 点 ([側]{ソク})  
2) 横画 ([勒]{ロク})  
3) 縦画 ([努]{ド})
4) はね, かぎ ([趯]{テキ})  
5) 左はらい ([掠]{リャク})
6) 右はらい ([磔]{タク})

7) 右上がりの横画 ([策]{サク})  
8) 短い左はらい ([啄]{タク})  

And all those eight appear in the character . This web page provides a good explanation.

Modern treatment suggests a slightly different set of strokes. According to this web page, it replaces 7 and 8 above with the following two:

9) かぎ  
10) おれ 

I think this modern set is familiar among Japanese, but when they need to refer to the kanji in the absense of a writing material, it is more common to refer to the radical (部首) or to refer to a word that includes that character (for example, 田んぼの「田」).

There are probably no such notions for kana.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.