What’s the Difference Between Uncle Oji and Uncle Oji?

So there are at least two kaji for the “o” part of oji (uncle). As far as kanjisenpai is concerned, they are the same thing. I took screenshots because I learned one by rote memorization but now the other one is totally screwing me up. So what’s the difference? Well, according to jisho.org there’s different kanji for uncle depending on if the uncle is older or younger than the parent and whether the uncle is the mother’s brother or the father’s brother. Yikes. Really makes you glad we just call everyone “uncle” or some other familiar variation doesn’t it? I’m only going to cover the two kanji I’ve run across so far. Depending on if the others are part of the N5, I will either add them retroactively or I will touch on them when I study for the N-higher than 5.

I’m trusting jisho.org here so if you know any of the following is inaccurate, please leave me a note in the comments.

PS for both of these memorization tricks, I’m assuming you already know the kanji for dad. I’m only focusing on the first character.

Uncle (older than parent) – おじ


Radicals: human 亻, father

Parts for the first character: human 亻+ white

White person dad? I feel a little strange remembering it that way, but that’s only three parts compared to eleven strokes. I also need a story with that to incorporate that this kanji is used for the older uncle.

Memorization trick: Uncle is a person whose hair is turning white because he’s so much older than dad.

Uncle (younger than parent) – おじ


Radicals: right hand 又, father

Parts for the first character: divination卜 + small 小

I know the official list of parts says divination, but it looks more like 上 (above), which also happens to fit the story better. For the memorization trick to make sense,  raise your right hand, palm away from you. The four fingers across the top where they bend forward makes the top line of the right half of the character. The curve of the outside of the hand swoops down and left. Swish your thumb forward. The swoop makes a diagonal line from top left to bottom right, crossing the palm.

Memorization trick: Small brother looks above at older brother and waves with his right thumb.

Hope this is helpful!



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