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Lesson 9: Writing the Kanji

The order in which to write Kanji follows some general rules. However there are many common exceptions and it is not always obvious which rule should take precedence. To some degree the "correct" stroke order is a matter of an arbitrary official decision made in the past. For example, the stroke order for the same Kanji is sometimes different in Japan and China.

Below are the rules in general order of precedence but the first two (Left to Right, Top to Bottom) are the most important. Always check the Kanji animation to see the official stroke order, there are many exceptions

1) Left to Right
Kanji are written from left to right

Example: (かわ)River



2) Top to Bottom
Kanji are written from top to bottom

Example: (さん)Three


3) Horizontal before Vertical
Horizontal strokes are written before vertical strokes.

Example: (じゅう)Ten


4) Center first
When there is a center part of a Kanji with seperate strokes to the left and the right like in or the center is drawn first.

Example: 小さい (ちいさい)Small


5) Center stroke last, if piercing
If a stroke passes through another stroke then that delays the order in which you would draw it.

6) Enclosures first
Enclosures are normally written first with the following exceptions:

* For the four-sided enclosure (see example) the bottom line is drawn last
* The Shinnyou () is written last