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Jun 25, 2013

Kanji Stroke Order

Kanji stroke order can seem complex, but it all comes down to a few simple guidelines. As I promised in the post "Never be stumped by kanji again!" here is an overview of those guidelines. All of the images used in this post are taken from, so try searching kanji on there if you want to be sure of stroke order.

-Start at the top or left-most part of the kanji and work down.


-Vertical strokes go top to bottom. Horizontal strokes go left to right.

田(た) You'll see this kanji a lot in this post.
-You can run a horizontal and vertical stroke together if they will both be drawn in their proper directions (as seen in stroke #2 above/below).


-For frame kanji, draw the outer frame, then draw the inside/bottom in order starting at the top.

Explanation: In the first and second stroke, the outer frame of the kanji is drawn. In the third stroke, the top-most inner stroke is drawn, then the middle, and finally the bottom. Here are some more examples.



-If there is a stroke going through the middle of a frame, it comes last.



-Diagonal strokes go right-left, then left-right.

-A final note: The 手 (hand) radical (the in the image below) has a somewhat odd stroke order. The top horizontal stroke is first, then the vertical, then the final horizontal/diagonal. (Note: The 手 kanji is not written this way, only the radical [])



  1. is always someything I need to remind myself of.

    What happened to the App you were going to release in May or June on iTunes. Did I miss it?

    1. No Living Japanese apps as of yet, but there was a second reading pack release.

  2. I'm not sure your stroke order directions are right for 手. It's top, middle, bottom horizontal strokes, finished by the vertical.

    1. Ah, I see...I was talking about the radical form of 手 which is the 扌 in the left part of the kanji. The actual kanji 手 is just as you described, but the radical 扌 goes top horizontal, vertical, then bottom horizontal/diagonal. Hope that helps!

      The wording in the post can be confusing, so I'll go edit that to make it more clear. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I am extremely impressed along with your writing abilities, Thanks for this great share.