Most kanji can be divided into fairly clear sections. Either from the left & right or top & bottom. The parts may be kanji themselves squished in to form another kanji, or they may be special shapes used with other shapes only to make different kanji.
There are 7 positions for these shapes. For example the position to the left is called the 偏 hen section. Here is one shape that is positioned in the hen area (the left side of the kanji):
木 (tree) when used as a part of another kanji it looks like (you can see it looks like a 木 that has been squished) This is called the きへん ki hen because it comes from 木 ki and it is positioned in the 偏 hen section. If this sounds confusing, don't worry... it is. But once you get a feel of how kanji is put together, things will go smooth! Really! Consider the following:
松 matsu (pine tree)
梅 ume (plum tree)
Here are 2 examples of the きへん ki hen in action! It is 偏 hen because the 木 () ki is placed to the left side of the kanji. Notice that the meaning usually pertains to the parts that make it up. So in our examples the kihen makes words that relate to trees (pines and plums)! Easy, ne. Hold your horses... It gets harder. But ippo ippo (one step at a time) :)
The place names:
Really, you don't have to know this, but...
(top & left)
(left & bottom)