I noticed that some fonts have a small, stylized inkblot on the end of certain strokes in kanji. When I first realized this, I honestly thought that I, myself, was having a stroke! Regardless, I have come to accept that they are there, but I would like to see if anyone knows why it is there or who made the decision to put it there in the first place. I guess it looks kind of cool, but it also shoves (usually the bottom) strokes practically on top of their higher-placed comrades. Your thoughts on them as a whole?

Image added for reference: Wierd Ink Drip

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    The circled blot in your picture is the main part of a はね. But I wonder if you are actually asking about serif. Would you also have that "stroke" reaction to a Latin-based serif typeface, say, roman or Times New Roman?
    – Eddie Kal
    Sep 30, 2021 at 0:10
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    Serif typefaces for Chinese go back like a thousand years, so you may have difficulty pinpointing a specfic person who introduced this particular flourish, though I'm not sure exactly when it started to appear.
    – Leebo
    Sep 30, 2021 at 0:29
  • @EddieKal It is peculiar that you mention that it is serif. At the time of writing, that word had evaded my inner lexicon. What's more, indeed, is that the author of the manga from which my image is composed is Keiichi Arawi, who also created Nichijou, in which a fictional manga exists that is aptly named "Helvetica Standard." The timing of the conception of my serif/hane confusion and my immersion into his works leads me to believe that there is more to this occurring within the collective human subconscious. That is to say: Perhaps Japanese people feel similarly about those English fonts.
    – wanwandrew
    Sep 30, 2021 at 0:46
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    The circled part of that stroke is not a はね. The part outside of that circle is. I don’t know what the circled part is called, but it’s more like an initial とめ.
    – aguijonazo
    Sep 30, 2021 at 1:07
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    @EddieKal: Yes, but the position of the brush that would result in the circled part of the stroke is the same as in a とめ. The brush rests there before it goes up for the はね. Like I said, I don’t know what it is called.
    – aguijonazo
    Sep 30, 2021 at 1:19

1 Answer 1


This is one of characteristics of 明朝体, the stylized emphases at the start and end of a brush stroke. In calligraphy, you are instructed to sink down your brush firmly at the beginning of every stroke. Then you will see more or less a 45-degree northwest-ward sesami-shaped blot there in each handwritten stroke, which is the ultimate origin of it.

enter image description here

However, if I had to name someone as the inventor of this highly exaggerated ornament that you see, I'd perhaps suggest an Irish-American called William Gamble, who directed 美華書館 (The American Presbyterian Mission Press). He made the first modern moveable type font of Chinese characters in order to print Bible. By analogy to Western serifed typefaces, he introduced many geometrical features and stylization into the 明朝体 design at his time, resulting such a typeface below (see the particular stroke-initial element of 冷) (source).

enter image description here

Compare it with the Kangxi dictionary head-character, representing a more standard style for the woodblock printing technology at that time, with humbler stroke-initial tittle more faithful to handwriting practice.

enter image description here

Although his typeface looks somewhat clunky, it was imported in Japan and served as the earliest prototype of then-cutting-edge metal type technology to set the standard, which is why many Japanese old-style 明朝体 typefaces still inherit this feature.


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