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Stroke direction rule 3 – the nisui rule

This rule represents an exception to the top-to-bottom rule, found in the nisui shape (pron. /nee-soo-ee/). The nisui rule states:

The lower stroke in the nisui shape is written from the bottom to the top.

The following shapes also contain the nisui shape:

  • the sanzui shape;
  • the yamaidare shape;
  • the four symmetrical strokes in shitamizu.
Kanji stroke diagram showing nisui, sanzui, yamaidare. Illustrates stroke direction rule 3: the lower stroke in the nisui shape is written from bottom to top.
nisui ‘ice’, sanzui ‘water’, yamaidare ‘illness’, shitamizu ‘water’.

In the above shapes, the pink arrows express the nisui rule, while the blue arrows show the strokes which are written normally, according to stroke direction rule 2, the top-to-bottom rule.

Although semantically (from a perspective of meaning) this would be incorrect, we can say that the shapes in the diagram above are variants of the nisui shape, and hence they are written according to the same principle: the lower stroke must be written from bottom-to-top.

Kanji stroke diagram showing 次 tsugi 'next', 壮 SOU 'vibrant', 弱 yowai 'weak', 病 yamai 'illness', 汽 KI 'vapour', 兆 kizashi 'omen', 率 hikiiru 'to lead', 泰 TAI 'peaceful', 渋 shibui 'bitter', 塁 RUI 'base'. Illustrates stroke direction rule 3: the lower stroke in the nisui shape is written from bottom to top.
tsugi ‘next’, SOU ‘vibrant’, yowai ‘weak’, yamai ‘illness’, KI ‘vapour’, kizashi ‘omen’, hikiiru ‘to lead’, TAI ‘peaceful’, shibui ‘bitter’, RUI ‘base’.

In the diagram above I present twelve kanji containing the nisui shape. Practice writing these characters following the stroke diagrams, paying attention to the stroke direction of the nisui shapes.

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