Japanese Culture – Kanji Characters of Fish

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Most fish written in Japanese are only one Kanji character, and the character consists of two elements. One of them is a radical “” (meaning fish) on the left and then something specific to that fish is on the right.

For example, Kanji character for Mackerel is which is a combination of “” and “”. The radical on the left “” means fish, and “” means blue. Since the skin of Mackerel is silver-blue, the Kanji character for this fish is directly translating to “Blue Fish”.

There are more than 150 different Kanji characters expressing all the different varieties of fish. Very few people can read all of them – most Japanese people can read only about a dozen of them. However, they can identify that the character is for a type of fish and can usually guess what fish it might be based on the description.