I wanna know why this kanji is containing the tree kanji 木 + the omen kanji 兆 ? What is the relation between tree and omen to give us a kanji for the peach ? Is it a historical story?

2 Answers 2


In many kanji, some of the components do not provide meaning, but only sound.「桃」(On'yomi: とう) is made up of semantic「木」(tree) and phonetic「兆」(On'yomi: ちょう).

Remember: Kanji were created for Chinese vocabulary, so the phonetic component is only relevant to On'yomi.

Here's some relevant vocabulary with these On'yomi readings:

  • [桃花]{とうか} (peach blossom)

  • [吉兆]{きっちょう} (good omen)

what is the relation between とう and ちょう readings

Phonetic components of kanji are generally approximations. Due to the long history and wide geographical spread of Chinese characters, the readings have changed over space and time in China and even further changed in Japan. Diverging pronunciations over space and time is natural, and is one of the mechanisms behind the development of different accents from a single source language.

とう and ちょう are similar; the initial consonant of is /t/ (see Voiceless dental and alveolar stops) and the initial consonant of ちょ is /t͡ɕ/ (see Voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate), which are both alveolar consonants, pronounced in roughly the same parts of the mouth.

Related sounds are prone to changing into each other over time.

  • 2
    Additionally, since the characters were invented for Chinese, both of these in the Old Chinese period, the sound correspondence in Japanese is somewhat incidental – it’s really the Old Chinese sound correspondences you need to look at. Old Chinese is reconstructed in various different (and mutually incompatible ways), but if you go by the reconstructions Wiktionary gives, 兆 was *lrawʔ or *l’ewʔ in OC, while 桃 was *C.lˁaw or *l’aːw. Like and chō, those are fairly similar. Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 8:14
  • @JanusBahsJacquet oh yes, I'm well aware of that. I use OC if necessary, but try not to if the Japanese pronunciations are similar enough to make the connection. After all, learners have to make the connection between OC and one of the go'on, kan'on, and tō'on on'yomi which may not even be Jōyō readings, if I provide OC reconstructions. That's another (quite a few!) steps which may/will cause confusion.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 8:18

Back in the 80s, there was this series of five-minute programs called おもしろ漢字ミニ字典 on NHK's educational TV channel, which would provide computer graphics animations and fancy stories about kanji sharing the same non-radical part, to help understand and memorize them better, IIRC. They were quite interesting for beginners in 漢字 like me.

I remember that one episode was dealing with the 兆桃挑眺逃跳 set of related kanji. Since the original meaning of 兆 was said to be a representation of a vertical crack in a turtle shell used for divination, a possible reason for finding this component in 桃 was the distinctive "split" shape of the peach, which can indeed be clearly seen in the emoji 🍑 ...

  • Yeah thanks this is also make sense as well as the pervious answer..Can you please give me a link to the episodes of this series if it found.
    – user32763
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 15:11
  • おもしろ漢字ミニ字典 - YouTube or おもしろ漢字ミニ字典 - YouTube but they don't seem to contain the one about 兆...
    – user27479
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 15:26
  • Thanks for your help ..this will help me even if it is not containg 北 because it will give me idea about how kanji created
    – user32763
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 15:30

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