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Context:

I am currently on a quest to learn how to hand write the 2000 most commonly used Kanji. This requires lots of memorization, so efficiency is important.

I have come across Kanji that have strokes with little "extra tails", created from a slightly extra-long stroke. I found that they are often referred to as はね. Or in English, they can be called "jumps". For example:

enter image description here

When splitting this kanji into three separate parts:

  • the left part has two jumps on the bottom, with the left tail being slightly longer
  • the upper right part has no jumps
  • the lower right part has two jumps on the bottom, of equal length.

Question:

How important are the jumps?

When handwriting Kanji, does it matter if these jumps are of the correct length? Would the Kanji still be understandable without correct jumps? Would natives find it annoying, for example, if I didn't include the jumps at all?

I am asking because the less little things I have to memorize, the faster I can learn the Kanji.

  • I got here through "Hot network questions". I don't have any idea how Kanji works, but I now that I've read the question and all the answers I am just curious how would you translate this particular set of strokes into English? – Robin Nemeth Mar 28 at 8:23
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These "jumps" that you brought up are not part of the kanji, they are part of the typeface.

(More specifically, they may be treated like serifs - or little decorations at the edge of certain lines) (see drooze's and Sweeper's answers)

When you are learning kanji, you should definitely not be copying or referencing printed characters. You should learn from hand-written characters. The basics of how to write kanji are not taught or learned from printed or typeface forms.

The best online reference I know of for hand-written Japanese characters is https://kakijun.jp/

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Notice how in some fonts, the letter "A" has little things that stick out, too:

enter image description here

But you wouldn't write those little tails in handwriting, would you?

Same thing with 唱. I don't think I've met anyone who writes them with the "jumps". This is how I'd write 唱:

enter image description here

  • 4
    Woah, I haven't seen Kanji written like that before. I'm used to these sort of strokes. Is your style like a sort of cursive? – Blake Allen Mar 25 at 22:16
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    @BlakeAllen that’s just what happens when you write stuff naturally. Naturally, people don’t spend 5 seconds on each character. – Sweeper Mar 25 at 22:37
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    The style that Sweeper has written this would be classified as 行書{ぎょうしょ}, or "semi-cursive". This style is also taught and learned, although students generally pick it up as they watch others write. – sazarando Mar 26 at 20:19
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Not to take away from the general idea of the other answers, but those protrusions on the bottom end of「唱」are not serifs.

enter image description here

Noto sans CJK, a sans-serif font - sans-serif means without serifs.

These protrusions have been present since one-pixel wide bitmap fonts - I presume their purpose is to enhance legibility.

enter image description here

The font displayed in the question is classed as an East Asian Gothic typeface. In general, Ming typeface and its derivatives like Gothic typeface are unsuitable for handwriting imitation. Please see Is there an "official" font or other writing standard that should be used when teaching kanji? and make use of handwriting previews if you want to copy a style resembling handwriting.

  • 1
    The definition of serif is "a slight projection finishing off a stroke of a letter". I'm interested to know, other than the name of this font, can you find any other information that would exclude these protrusions from the definition of a serif? – sazarando Mar 26 at 20:14
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    @sazarando see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ming_(typefaces)#Characteristics - Triangles at the end of single horizontal strokes, called uroko (鱗, literally “fish scales”) in Japanese, comparable to serifs. Also see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sans-serif#/media/File:Ming_serif.svg where the "serif" analogy is highlighted in red on the left column; take note of the character 黃, where the bottom protrusions in the first two columns aren't highlighted (i.e. not counted as "serifs"), although the sans-serif column doesn't have those protrusions. – droooze Mar 27 at 0:31
  • That is interesting. I can understand that a distinction could be drawn between 鱗 and "protrusions" - but wouldn't they both a type of "projection finishing off a stroke"? I think it may be significant that these protrusions only ever occur at what is the end of a stroke. Why wouldn't that type of embellishment be counted as a serif as well? – sazarando Mar 27 at 0:48
  • (side note) Regardless of why these protrusions would or would not be considered serifs, I take your point that they do not seem to be included in what is commonly referred to as serifs by the professionals making CJK typefaces. – sazarando Mar 27 at 0:50
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    @sazarando I don't know the answer :) I think this could be a question on graphicdesign SE, if I haven't managed to find the answer elsewhere. – droooze Mar 27 at 0:52
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Since nobody has mentioned how you should actually write 唱, let me add a picture from a "textbook font" (教科書体) (see Is there an "official" font or other writing standard that should be used when teaching kanji?)

enter image description here

You can follow the shape, but when writing with a pen, the "serifs" or "jumps" are sometimes less visible and usually the middle "bar" in 日 does not touch the right vertical stroke. (To see what I mean in other characters, see for example this site.)

I couldn't find a picture of 唱, so here is what I mean:

enter image description here

(Sorry for the subpar handwriting and the cheap pen.)

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Please keep in mind that kanji are traditionally practiced using a brush, rather than a pen or pencil. The tails are a result of correct brush usage, as each stroke may have it's open predefined nuance or flair.

See this article on calligraphy, or shodo: https://www.japanvisitor.com/japanese-culture/language/japanese-shodo

It is very useful to be familiar with these basics, but it is unnecessarily time consuming to attempt to have perfect calligraphy form all the time. The simplified, cursive examples provided by others in this thread exemplify how the calligraphy techniques, when sped up, act as a type of shorthand used to save time.

I recommend jisho.org for their hand written stroke order animations:

https://jisho.org/search/家%20%23kanji

2

This has more to do with strokes and stroke order. Some fonts will show these, others not. Some will even show such 'tails' in the middle of a stroke.

Pay attention only if it helps you to get the kanji (especially strokes and stroke order) right.

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