Kanji Stroke Count Table

Some time ago I ran across a table online that listed Japanese sword smith names by the number of strokes in their kanji. I believe it was from the "Meiboku" website. Since then, I am unable to open that site anymore, I believe it was shut down. I was able to find a limited number of kanji stroke counting smith names on the JSSUS site, but not anywhere near the number I found on the Meiboku site. Does anyone know where I can find a large number of Japanese smiths kanji stroke counting table. I have a Chinese girlfriend who is able to do an accurate kanji stroke count for me. I just need to cross reference the kanji with the English.




I don't know the answer to your real question, but it may be helpful to note that a list of about 300 kanji (or less) covers nearly everything you will find in a signature.
Make two copies of that list - one in stroke-count order, and one in order by readings, and you can decode a lot of stuff...



Where do I find the list of the 300 kanji? As for the Saipan59, its none of my business and feel free not to answer if you don't want to. My dad was in the Second Marines in WWII and was on Saipan, Tinian, Tarawa and Guadual Canal. I was wondering if thats where your handle comes from? I'm guessing the 59 is from 1959, the year you were born, same as my 1960. Thanks for the answers, I have more questions to come.



Phil Blair

300 kanji

Back in the late 80's, I compiled my own list, and printed it, 33 to a page, with the most typical sword-related readings and stroke count for each. I made one version sorted by stroke count (the most useful way), and another sorted alphabetically by reading.
As I recall, I made the list by going through Hawley's book. I skipped most of the unusual ones, so that the list wouldn't get too big.
With the list in hand, and with some understanding of radicals and stroke counting, many signatures can be decoded. After awhile, you start to recognize some of the radicals in their "hand written" form.
BTW, if you have enough understanding of radicals, then a good dictionary such as Nelson's is valuable. My wife (a Japanese citizen) has often used Nelson's to look up something, even though we have other dictionaries that are all in Japanese. Nelson's was the 'gold standard' back then. You may still hear Westerners refer to a specific kanji by its "Nelson number". Be aware that newer editions of Nelsons re-numbered the kanji (a dumb move...).

I still have a printed copy of my list. I could scan it to PDF, then perhaps Stan could post it here on the site.

Another super-useful dictionary for more advanced readers is one that shows various hand-written versions of each kanji. There are five basic styles of kanji: Kaisho (simple printed style), Sosho (a traditional hand-written style, sometimes called "grass writing" - very difficult even for Japanese folks; nearly impossible for Westerners), etc. One of the styles is the type used in hanko (signature stamps). A Google search will tell you more.
Anyway, we have one of these dictionaries, and it shows examples of the 5 styles for each kanji, and shows several additional examples for many kanji. My wife has used it many times to confirm a difficult kanji done in a hand-written style.

Regarding "Saipan59": Yes, I was born on Saipan in 1959. At that time, it was a CIA training base, and my father was stationed there. There was a small Navy facility that provided the "official cover" for the training activities. I was too young to remember anything originally, but I went back for a visit in 1982. I found the native (Chamorro) lady who had been my baby sitter in 1960.



I have PDF files ready, if interested.
Stan: Can a PDF be uploaded to the forum?
Phil: If you wish, e-mail me privately and I can send. My e-mail is my handle, followed by "@Q.com" .

Phil, Pete, I'm happy to

Phil, Pete,

I'm happy to publish this PDF, but in our digital age there are alternatives which I used very often in the past to find a Kanji by stroke count etc, i.e. http://jisho.org/#radical or even this one: http://jisho.org/#handwriting (draw the character yourself).


digital age

Wow, such high technology! :-)
I would suggest that my "list of common sword kanji" is still useful, because (if necessary) you can look through the entire list for something that matches, without knowing anything about radicals or stroke counts and such.
Searching by radical is how a native does it, but there are so many kanji where the base radical is not obvious. It takes a lot of study. For example, consider the common "KANE". I just now looked it up, because I had no idea what the base radical would be. Turns out it is "hachi" (Nelson's radical #12). I suppose that could be guessed, because it is at the top of the kanji. But on a chiseled signature, things don't look much like the dictionary version... My wife agrees that knowing the correct radical is a very iffy thing, even for a native.
And the 'handwriting' tool on the jisho.org site is far from perfect - I just tried several simple kanji (YAMA, KUCHI, etc.), and it often can't recognize it as the first choice, even though the shape is very clear. It is sensitive to stroke order, which is something that us Westerners don't know (without a lot of study). Interestingly, I also tried a complex one (IWAO), and it showed it correctly as the first choice.

Anyway, back in the 80's my printed kanji list was very popular with members of the "Colorado ToKen Kai" (collector's club), because only one other member (a Nisei Japanese) could really read kanji at all. I was the only one of the "Caucasian guys" that had even taken Japanese language lessons. I had a huge advantage because of my wife, who could read nearly everything. So, I sold them printed copies of my list for $2 each :-) . I also sold them my "ToShoW" swordsmith database program for $75. Whoot!


Kanji identification files

Hi All,

I’ve posted Pete's tables here. Enjoy!


Kanji files

Thanks, I've been looking for this for a while.



Phil Blair