Kanshudo Component Builder
Draw a component:
Type a component or its name:
Choose from a list:
Change component list
By default the Component Builder shows the most common Joyo kanji components (ie, components which are themselves Joyo kanji, or which are used in at least 3 other Joyo kanji). Select an alternative set of components below.

For details of all components and their English names, see the Component collections.
Kanshudo Component Builder Help
For detailed instructions, see the Component builder how to guide.
To find any kanji, first try to identify the components it is made up of. Once you have identified any component, search for it in any of three ways:
  1. Draw it in the drawing area
  2. Type the name in the text area
  3. Look for it in the list
Example: look up 漢
  • Notice that 漢 is made of several components: 氵 艹 口 夫
  • Draw any of these components (one at a time) in the drawing area, and select it when you see it
  • Alternatively, look for a component in the list. 氵 艹 口 each have three strokes; 夫 has four strokes
  • If you know the meanings of the components, type any of them in the text area: water (氵), grass (艹), mouth (口) or husband (夫)
  • Keep adding components until you can see your kanji in the list of matches that appears near the top.
Kanshudo Component Builder Drawing Help
The Kanshudo Component Builder can recognize any of the 416 components listed in the chart below the drawing area. Tips:
  • Draw a component in the center of the area, as large as you can
  • Try to draw the component as it appears in the kanji you're looking up
  • Don't worry about stroke order or number of strokes
  • Don't draw more than one component at a time
Not finding your component?
If you believe you've drawn your component correctly but the system is not recognizing it, please:
Let us know!

An introduction to Japanese kanji

What are kanji? A short overview and history

The kanji, or
, are a set of thousands of distinct characters imported from China to Japan as a writing system starting around the first century AD. Since spoken Japanese has both different grammar and vocabulary to Chinese, several adaptations were made over the next few hundred years.
At first, the kanji were used exactly as in China, and Chinese texts were imported wholesale, annotated with additional markings known as kanbun (
) to make them intelligible to Japanese.
Later, subsets of the kanji were simplified to enable simple transliteration of the sounds of Japanese - these simplifications became the modern syllabaries we know as hiragana and katakana.
More recently still, the kanji have diverged, with the Japanese making simplifications that were not adopted by the Chinese, and vice versa.

Kanji frequency

In general it makes sense to learn the kanji that you will encounter most frequently first. As a result of your personal situation you may encounter some kanji more frequently than others do, but generally speaking frequency of occurrence in newspapers, Wikipedia, and/or novels are common ways to measure frequency.
The kanji frequency data used in Kanshudo are taken from the 漢字出現頻度表 順位対照表(Ver.1.2)(kanji frequency chart) prepared by the
, the Japanese Government Agency for Cultural Affairs). The data was compiled in 2010 from a number of frequency rankings, and used to create an aggregated frequency ranking which is the ranking applied in Kanshudo. The report provides data on about 3500 kanji, of which about 100 or so are variants of each other (and grouped together in Kanshudo), so the Kanshudo system contains frequency rankings for a total of 3409 kanji. A frequency of 1 means 'most frequent' and hence most common.

Shinjitai vs simplified vs traditional

Over centuries, the kanji have evolved and (unfortunately!) their forms have diverged in different countries, especially China and Japan. Consider for example the kanji . This form is the 'shinjitai' character used in modern Japan. Originally, in both China and Japan, the character was (the 'traditional' form). In modern Chinese, however, the character is written (the 'simplified' form).
Often, the simplifications the Japanese made resulted in a new element that is distinct but clearly related to the original component (such as ), whereas Chinese simplifications often involved substituting existing simpler characters for more complex components (eg , which bears no relation to ).
Look up 戦 in search or view the details page (which shows details of the variant).


Most kanji are made up of components, which themselves have meanings, and which are the basis for the Kanshudo system of learning the kanji.

Jōyō (常用) kanji / Jinmeiyō (人名用) kanji / Hyōgaiji (表外字)

Japanese kanji are commonly thought of in three groups:
  • The Jōyō, meaning 'daily use', kanji are a list of 2136 characters deemed most commonly used by the Japanese government. Kanji on this list are taught in Japanese schools, and the list is divided into sections corresponding to school years. You can see all kanji in the Jōyō, as well as the sets taught in elementary school (Kyōiku kanji) and secondary school in our kanji collections.
  • The Jinmeiyō, meaning 'used in names', is a set of 843 kanji commonly used in Japanese names. This list is not taught in schools, but the kanji are commonly encountered in newspapers and media. You can see all the Jinmeiyō in our Jinmeiyō collections, prioritized by actual usage in Japanese names (a feature unique to Kanshudo).
  • The Hyōgaiji is 'everything else' - all kanji that are no longer in use, or replaced by alternative versions. Most Hyōgaiji will still be visible on most computers that can display Japanese, and you will encounter many of them as you read more widely.
Beyond these three groups, there are still many more kanji - including Chinese variants, kanji in Chinese but not Japanese, as well as characters that are not technically kanji, but which represent kanji elements These are called 'graphemes' in the computer world; some but not all are 'radicals'. Kanshudo refers to all kanji parts as 'components'.

More information

Search results include information from a variety of sources, including Kanshudo (kanji mnemonics, kanji readings, kanji components, vocab and name frequency data, grammar points), JMdict (vocabulary), Tatoeba (examples), Enamdict (names), KanjiVG (kanji animations and stroke order), and Joy o' Kanji (kanji and radical synopses). Translations provided by Google's Neural Machine Translation engine. For more information see credits.