Component order rule 1 – left to right

Chinese characters are made up of one or more “blocks” of self-sufficient strokes. I use the word component to refer to these blocks of strokes.

If you consider the kanji hayashi ‘woods’, you can see it has two components: ki ‘tree’, and another ki.

If this time you consider the kanji mori ‘forest’, you can see it has three components: ki ‘tree’ repeated three times.

Component order rule 1 says:

Write kanji components from the left to the right.

Let’s see our first component order diagram.

Kanji component diagram showing the kanji 段 DAN 'step', 顔 kao 'face', 術 JUTSU 'the art of', 街 machi 'town'. It illustrates the left-to-right component order rule: kanji components are written from left to right; each component is shown in a different colour.
DAN ‘step’, kao ‘face’, JUTSU ‘the art of’, machi ‘town’.

Left to right, so:

  • first we write the red component;
  • second we write the brown component;
  • last we write the green component.

For now we can ignore the fact that a kanji like JUTSU and machi could be seen as the combination of iku ‘to go’ with a middle component.

Now take DAN and machi: in both kanji the brown component can be split further into smaller components. Do you recognise them?

The smaller components are: ru, mata and tsuchi. In what order should we write them?

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