Component order rule 3 – embracing enclosures

Embracing enclosure are shapes that act like fences surrounding, completely or partially, other shapes. Let’s start with the following three types of embracing enclosures: dougamae, tsutsumigamae, kunigamae and similar shapes.

  • Type 1: surrounding left, top and right.
  • Type 2: surrounding top and right.
  • Type 3: surrounding all directions.
Kanji stroke and component order diagram of the basic embracing enclosures: どうがまえ dougamae, つつみがまえ tsutsumigamae, くにがまえ kunigamae, and two more enclosures.
Five basic embracing enclosures.

The component order is as follows.

  • Type 1 and 2:
    • the enclosure is written first;
    • the enclosed part is written last.
  • Type 3:
    • the left, top and right parts of the enclosure are written first;
    • the enclosed part is written second;
    • the closing/bottom stroke is written last.

You can practice writing the following characters, paying attention to how the enclosures and the enclosed parts are written.

同 onaji 'same', 内 uchi 'inside', 風 kaze 'wind', 司 SHI 'official', 詞 SHI 'word', 句 KU 'section', 均 KIN 'level/average', 回 mawaru 'rotate', 国 kuni 'country', 園 sono 'garden'.
onaji ‘same’, uchi ‘inside’, kaze ‘wind’, SHI ‘official’, SHI ‘word’, KU ‘section’, KIN ‘level/average’, mawaru ‘rotate’, kuni ‘country’, sono ‘garden’.

The next two embracing enclosures are hakogamae and ukebako.

Kanji stroke and component order diagram of the left and bottom embracing enclosures はこがまえ hakogamae and うけばこ ukebako. Embracing enclosures surrounding from the left and from the bottom.
hakogamae and ukebako.
  • In hakogamae the order is:
    • top stroke;
    • enclosed part;
    • descending right-angled stroke.
  • In ukebako the order is:
    • enclosed part;
    • bottom right-angled stroke;
    • right vertical stroke.

Practice writing the following kanji.

Kanji stroke and component order diagram of characters containing the shapes はこがまえ hakogamae and うけばこ ukebako. The characters are: 区 KU 'ward', 匿 TOKU 'shelter', 殴 naguru 'hit/assault', 画 GA 'picture', 凶 KYŌ 'bad luck', 胸 mune 'chest'.
KU ‘ward’, TOKU ‘shelter’, naguru ‘hit/assault’, GA ‘picture’, KYOU ‘bad luck’, mune ‘chest/breast’.

The character mune contains a ukebako enclosure within a tsutsumigamae enclosure!

The last embracing enclosure that we are going to discuss is the MON ‘gate’ shape, which is a kanji on its own. A ubiquitous shape.

The MON enclosure is written first in its entirety; the enclosed part is written last.

Some of the kanji with this enclosures are shown below.

Kanji stroke and component order diagram of characters containing the gate enclosure: 門 MON 'gate', 問 tou 'to query', 閣 KAKU 'tower', 閲 ETSU 'inspection', 開 hiraku 'to open', 潤 uruou 'to be moist'. The 門 MON shape is the pictogram of a gate.
MON ‘gate’, tou ‘to query’, KAKU ‘tower’, ETSU ‘inspection’, hiraku ‘to open’, uruou ‘to be moist’.

The MON shape is the pictogram (the drawing) of a gate.

The servant is not an enclosure

Let’s spend just a few words on the shape/kanji SHIN ‘servant’. This shape used to frustrate me before I decided to spend a moment to memorise its stroke order once and for all.

Kanji stroke order diagram of the shape 臣 SHIN 'servant'.
SHIN ‘servant’: the pictogram of an eyeball.

Once you study its stroke order, you’ll find out that this seemingly complicated shape is diligently following the basic stroke order rules that we already know: left to right, top to bottom.

The only particularity is that the first stroke is a vertical line, and everything else is written on its right, from the top to the bottom. What at first may have looked like a hakogamae enclosure was in fact something different and unusual.

The character SHIN, meaning ‘servant’, is the drawing of a large eyeball. In ancient China certain categories of people would sometimes have their eyes pierced with a big needle, thus becoming blind. They would participate in ritualistic divinatory practices as retainers/servants.

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