are the adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system. They are used alongside the Japanese syllabic scripts ''hiragana'' and ''katakana''. The Japanese term ''kanji'' for the Chinese characters literally means "Han characters". It is written with the same characters as in Traditional Chinese to refer to the character writing system, ''hanzi'' (). Although some Kanji will have similar meaning and pronunciation as Chinese, some can have very different meanings and pronunciations as well e.g. 誠, meaning 'honest' in both Chinese and Japanese, is pronounced ''makoto'' or ''sei'' in Japanese, but pronounced ''chéng'' in Chinese (Standard).


Chinese characters first came to Japan on official seals, letters, swords, coins, mirrors, and other decorative items imported from China. The earliest known instance of such an import was the King of Na gold seal given by Emperor Guangwu of Han to a Wa emissary in 57 AD. Chinese coins from the first century AD have been found in Yayoi period archaeological sites.Miyake (2003), 8. However, the Japanese of that era probably had no comprehension of the script, and would remain illiterate until the fifth century AD. According to the ''Nihon Shoki'' and ''Kojiki'', a semi-legendary scholar called Wani ( ja|王仁) was dispatched to Japan by the Kingdom of Baekje during the reign of Emperor Ōjin in the early fifth century, bringing with him knowledge of Confucianism and Chinese characters.Miyake (2003), 9. The earliest Japanese documents were probably written by bilingual Chinese or Korean officials employed at the Yamato court. For example, the diplomatic correspondence from King Bu of Wa to Emperor Shun of Liu Song in 478 has been praised for its skillful use of allusion. Later, groups of people called ''fuhito'' were organized under the monarch to read and write Classical Chinese. During the reign of Empress Suiko (593–628), the Yamato court began sending full-scale diplomatic missions to China, which resulted in a large increase in Chinese literacy at the Japanese court. In ancient times paper was so rare that people stenciled kanji onto thin, rectangular strips of wood. These wooden boards were used for communication between government offices, tags for goods transported between various countries, and the practice of writing. The oldest written kanji in Japan discovered so far was written in ink on wood as a wooden strip dated to the 7th century. It is a record of trading for cloth and salt.'No longer mentioned in source''/sup> The Japanese language had no written form at the time Chinese characters were introduced, and texts were written and read only in Chinese. Later, during the Heian period (794–1185), however, a system known as ''kanbun'' emerged, which involved using Chinese text with diacritical marks to allow Japanese speakers to restructure and read Chinese sentences, by changing word order and adding particles and verb endings, in accordance with the rules of Japanese grammar. Chinese characters also came to be used to write Japanese words, resulting in the modern kana syllabaries. Around 650 AD, a writing system called ''man'yōgana'' (used in the ancient poetry anthology ''Man'yōshū'') evolved that used a number of Chinese characters for their sound, rather than for their meaning. Man'yōgana written in cursive style evolved into ''hiragana'', or ''onna-de'', that is, "ladies' hand," a writing system that was accessible to women (who were denied higher education). Major works of Heian-era literature by women were written in hiragana. ''Katakana'' emerged via a parallel path: monastery students simplified ''man'yōgana'' to a single constituent element. Thus the two other writing systems, hiragana and katakana, referred to collectively as ''kana'', are descended from kanji. In comparison to kana (仮名, "provisional character") kanji are also called mana (真名, "true name, true character"). In modern Japanese, kanji are used to write parts of the language (usually content words) such as nouns, adjective stems, and verb stems, while hiragana are used to write inflected verb and adjective endings and as phonetic complements to disambiguate readings (''okurigana''), particles, and miscellaneous words which have no kanji or whose kanji is considered obscure or too difficult to read or remember. Katakana are mostly used for representing onomatopoeia, non-Japanese loanwords (except those borrowed from ancient Chinese), the names of plants and animals (with exceptions), and for emphasis on certain words.

Orthographic reform and lists of kanji

In 1946, after World War II and under the Allied Occupation of Japan, the Japanese government, guided by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, instituted a series of orthographic reforms, to help children learn and to simplify kanji use in literature and periodicals. The number of characters in circulation was reduced, and formal lists of characters to be learned during each grade of school were established. Some characters were given simplified glyphs, called . Many variant forms of characters and obscure alternatives for common characters were officially discouraged. These are simply guidelines, so many characters outside these standards are still widely known and commonly used; these are known as .

Kyōiku kanji

The are the 1,026 first kanji characters that Japanese children learn in elementary school, from first grade to sixth grade. The grade-level breakdown is known as the , or the ''gakushū kanji'' (学習漢字). This list of kanji is maintained by the Japanese Ministry of Education and prescribes which kanji characters and which kanji readings students should learn for each grade.

Jōyō kanji

The are 2,136 characters consisting of all the ''Kyōiku kanji'', plus 1,130 additional kanji taught in junior high and high school. In publishing, characters outside this category are often given ''furigana''. The ''jōyō kanji'' were introduced in 1981, replacing an older list of 1,850 characters known as the , introduced in 1946. Originally numbering 1,945 characters, the ''jōyō kanji'' list was expanded to 2,136 in 2010. Some of the new characters were previously ''Jinmeiyō kanji''; some are used to write prefecture names: , , , , , , , , , and .

Jinmeiyō kanji

As of September 25, 2017, the consists of 863 characters. Kanji on this list are mostly used in people's names and some are traditional variants of ''jōyō kanji''. There were only 92 kanji in the original list published in 1952, but new additions have been made frequently. Sometimes the term ''jinmeiyō kanji'' refers to all 2,999 kanji from both the ''jōyō'' and ''jinmeiyō'' lists combined.

Hyōgai kanji

are any kanji not contained in the ''jōyō kanji'' and ''jinmeiyō kanji'' lists. These are generally written using traditional characters, but extended shinjitai forms exist.

Japanese Industrial Standards for kanji

The Japanese Industrial Standards for kanji and kana define character code-points for each kanji and kana, as well as other forms of writing such as the Latin alphabet, Cyrillic script, Greek alphabet, Arabic numerals, etc. for use in information processing. They have had numerous revisions. The current standards are: *JIS X 0208, the most recent version of the main standard. It has 6,355 kanji. *JIS X 0212, a supplementary standard containing a further 5,801 kanji. This standard is rarely used, mainly because the common Shift JIS encoding system could not use it. This standard is effectively obsolete; *JIS X 0213, a further revision which extended the JIS X 0208 set with 3,695 additional kanji, of which 2,743 (all but 952) were in JIS X 0212. The standard is in part designed to be compatible with Shift JIS encoding; *JIS X 0221:1995, the Japanese version of the ISO 10646/Unicode standard.


are kanji that are not represented in existing Japanese encoding systems. These include variant forms of common kanji that need to be represented alongside the more conventional glyph in reference works, and can include non-kanji symbols as well. ''Gaiji'' can be either user-defined characters or system-specific characters. Both are a problem for information interchange, as the code point used to represent an external character will not be consistent from one computer or operating system to another. ''Gaiji'' were nominally prohibited in JIS X 0208-1997, and JIS X 0213-2000 used the range of code-points previously allocated to ''gaiji'', making them completely unusable. Nevertheless, they persist today with NTT DoCoMo's "i-mode" service, where they are used for emoji (pictorial characters). Unicode allows for optional encoding of ''gaiji'' in private use areas, while Adobe's SING (Smart INdependent Glyphlets) technology allows the creation of customized gaiji. The Text Encoding Initiative uses a <g> element to encode any non-standard character or glyph, including gaiji. (The ''g'' stands for "gaiji".)

Total number of kanji

There is no definitive count of kanji characters, just as there is none of Chinese characters generally. The ''Dai Kan-Wa Jiten'', which is considered to be comprehensive in Japan, contains about 50,000 characters. The ''Zhonghua Zihai'', published in 1994 in China, contains about 85,000 characters, but the majority of them are not in common use in any country, and many are obscure variants or archaic forms.Kuang-Hui Chiu, Chi-Ching Hsu (2006)
Chinese Dilemmas : How Many Ideographs are Needed
, National Taipei University
A list of 2,136 ''jōyō kanji'' (常用漢字) is regarded as necessary for functional literacy in Japanese. Approximately a thousand more characters are commonly used and readily understood by the majority in Japan and a few thousand more find occasional use, especially in specialized fields of study but those may be obscure to most out of context. A total of 13,108 characters can be encoded in various Japanese Industrial Standards for kanji.


Because of the way they have been adopted into Japanese, a single kanji may be used to write one or more different words—or, in some cases, morphemes—and thus the same character may be pronounced in different ways. From the reader's point of view, kanji are said to have one or more different "readings". Although more than one reading may become activated in the brain, deciding which reading is appropriate depends on recognizing which word it represents, which can usually be determined from context, intended meaning, whether the character occurs as part of a compound word or an independent word, and sometimes location within the sentence. For example, is usually read ''kyō'', meaning "today", but in formal writing is instead read ''konnichi'', meaning "nowadays"; this is understood from context. Nevertheless, some cases are ambiguous and require a ''furigana'' gloss, which are also used simply for difficult readings or to specify a non-standard reading. Kanji readings are categorized as either ''on'yomi'' (, literally "sound reading", from Chinese) or ''kun'yomi'' (, literally "meaning reading", native Japanese), and most characters have at least two readings, at least one of each. However, some characters have only a single reading, such as or ; ''kun''-only are common for Japanese-coined kanji (''kokuji''). Some common kanji have ten or more possible readings; the most complex common example is , which is read as ''sei, shō, nama, ki, o-u, i-kiru, i-kasu, i-keru, u-mu, u-mareru, ha-eru'', and ''ha-yasu'', totaling eight basic readings (the first two are ''on'', while the rest are ''kun''), or 12 if related verbs are counted as distinct; see okurigana: 生 for details. Most often, a character will be used for both sound and meaning, and it is simply a matter of choosing the correct reading based on which word it represents.

''On'yomi'' (Sino-Japanese reading)

The , the Sino-Japanese reading, is the modern descendant of the Japanese approximation of the base Chinese pronunciation of the character at the time it was introduced. It was often previously referred to as translation reading, as it was recreated readings of the Chinese pronunciation but was not the Chinese pronunciation or reading itself, similar to the English pronunciation of Latin loanwords. Old Japanese scripts often stated that ''on'yomi'' readings were also created by the Japanese during their arrival and re-borrowed by the Chinese as their own. There also exist kanji created by the Japanese and given an ''on'yomi'' reading despite not being a Chinese-derived or a Chinese-originating character. Some kanji were introduced from different parts of China at different times, and so have multiple ''on'yomi'', and often multiple meanings. ''Kanji'' invented in Japan would not normally be expected to have ''on'yomi'', but there are exceptions, such as the character "to work", which has the ''kun'yomi'' "''hataraku''" and the ''on'yomi'' "''dō''", and "gland", which has only the ''on'yomi'' "''sen''"—in both cases these come from the ''on'yomi'' of the phonetic component, respectively "''dō''" and "''sen''". Generally, ''on'yomi'' are classified into four types according to their region and time of origin: * readings are from the pronunciation during the Northern and Southern dynasties of China during the 5th and 6th centuries. ''Go'' refers to the Wu region (in the vicinity of modern Shanghai), which still maintains linguistic similarities with modern Sino-Japanese vocabulary. See also: Wu Chinese and Shanghainese language. * readings are from the pronunciation during the Tang dynasty of China in the 7th to 9th centuries, primarily from the standard speech of the capital, Chang'an (modern Xi'an). Here, ''Kan'' refers to Han Chinese people or China proper. * readings are from the pronunciations of later dynasties of China, such as the Song and Ming. They cover all readings adopted from the Heian era to the Edo period. This is also known as . * readings, which are mistaken or changed readings of the kanji that have become accepted into the Japanese language. In some cases, they are the actual readings that accompanied the character's introduction to Japan, but do not match how the character "should" (is prescribed to) be read according to the rules of character construction and pronunciation. The most common form of readings is the ''kan-on'' one, and use of a non-''kan-on'' reading in a word where the ''kan-on'' reading is well known is a common cause of reading mistakes or difficulty, such as in (''go-on''), where is usually instead read as ''kai''. The ''go-on'' readings are especially common in Buddhist terminology such as , as well as in some of the earliest loans, such as the Sino-Japanese numbers. The ''tō-on'' readings occur in some later words, such as , , and . The go-on, kan-on, and tō-on readings are generally cognate (with rare exceptions of homographs; see below), having a common origin in Old Chinese, and hence form linguistic doublets or triplets, but they can differ significantly from each other and from modern Chinese pronunciation. In Chinese, most characters are associated with a single Chinese sound, though there are distinct literary and colloquial readings. However, some homographs ( ) such as (' or ') (Japanese: ''an, gō, gyō'') have more than one reading in Chinese representing different meanings, which is reflected in the carryover to Japanese as well. Additionally, many Chinese syllables, especially those with an entering tone, did not fit the largely consonant-vowel (CV) phonotactics of classical Japanese. Thus most ''on'yomi'' are composed of two morae (beats), the second of which is either a lengthening of the vowel in the first mora (to ''ei'', ''ō'', or ''ū''), the vowel ''i'', or one of the syllables ''ku'', ''ki'', ''tsu'', ''chi'', ''fu'' (historically, later merged into ''ō'' and ''ū''), or moraic ''n'', chosen for their approximation to the final consonants of Middle Chinese. It may be that palatalized consonants before vowels other than ''i'' developed in Japanese as a result of Chinese borrowings, as they are virtually unknown in words of native Japanese origin, but are common in Chinese. ''On'yomi'' primarily occur in words, many of which are the result of the adoption, along with the kanji themselves, of Chinese words for concepts that either did not exist in Japanese or could not be articulated as elegantly using native words. This borrowing process is often compared to the English borrowings from Latin, Greek, and Norman French, since Chinese-borrowed terms are often more specialized, or considered to sound more erudite or formal, than their native counterparts (occupying a higher linguistic register). The major exception to this rule is family names, in which the native ''kun'yomi'' are usually used (though ''on'yomi'' are found in many personal names, especially men's names).

''Kun'yomi'' (native reading)

The , the native reading, is a reading based on the pronunciation of a native Japanese word, or ''yamato kotoba'', that closely approximated the meaning of the Chinese character when it was introduced. As with ''on'yomi'', there can be multiple ''kun'yomi'' for the same kanji, and some kanji have no ''kun'yomi'' at all. For instance, the character for east, , has the ''on'yomi'' ''tō'', from Middle Chinese '. However, Japanese already had two words for "east": ''higashi'' and ''azuma''. Thus the kanji had the latter readings added as ''kun'yomi''. In contrast, the kanji , denoting a Chinese unit of measurement (about 30 mm or 1.2 inch), has no native Japanese equivalent; it only has an ''on'yomi'', ''sun'', with no native ''kun'yomi''. Most ''kokuji'', Japanese-created Chinese characters, only have ''kun'yomi'', although some have back-formed a pseudo-''on'yomi'' by analogy with similar characters, such as ''dō'', from ''dō'', and there are even some, such as ''sen'' "gland", that have only an ''on'yomi''. ''Kun'yomi'' are characterized by the strict (C)V syllable structure of ''yamato kotoba''. Most noun or adjective ''kun'yomi'' are two to three syllables long, while verb ''kun'yomi'' are usually between one and three syllables in length, not counting trailing hiragana called ''okurigana''. ''Okurigana'' are not considered to be part of the internal reading of the character, although they are part of the reading of the word. A beginner in the language will rarely come across characters with long readings, but readings of three or even four syllables are not uncommon. This contrasts with ''on'yomi'', which are monosyllabic, and is unusual in the Chinese family of scripts, which generally use one character per syllable—not only in Chinese, but also in Korean, Vietnamese, and Zhuang; polysyllabic Chinese characters are rare and considered non-standard. ''uketamawaru'', ''kokorozashi'', and ''mikotonori'' have five syllables represented by a single kanji, the longest readings in the ''jōyō'' character set. These unusually long readings are due to a single character representing a compound word: * is a single character for a compound verb, one component of which has a long reading. ** It has an alternative spelling as ''u(ke)-tamawa(ru)'', hence (1+1)+3=5. ** Compare common ''u(ke)-tsu(keru)''. * is a nominalization of the verb which has a long reading ''kokoroza(su)''. ** This is due to its being derived from a noun-verb compound, ''kokoro-za(su)''. ** The nominalization removes the okurigana, hence increasing the reading by one mora, yielding 4+1=5. ** Compare common ''hanashi'' 2+1=3, from ''hana(su)''. * is a triple compound. ** It has an alternative spelling ''mi-koto-nori'', hence 1+2+2=5. Further, some Jōyō characters have long non-Jōyō readings (students learn the character, but not the reading), such as ''omonpakaru'' for . In a number of cases, multiple kanji were assigned to cover a single Japanese word. Typically when this occurs, the different kanji refer to specific shades of meaning. For instance, the word , ''naosu'', when written , means "to heal an illness or sickness". When written it means "to fix or correct something". Sometimes the distinction is very clear, although not always. Differences of opinion among reference works is not uncommon; one dictionary may say the kanji are equivalent, while another dictionary may draw distinctions of use. As a result, native speakers of the language may have trouble knowing which kanji to use and resort to personal preference or by writing the word in hiragana. This latter strategy is frequently employed with more complex cases such as もと ''moto'', which has at least five different kanji: , and , the first three of which have only very subtle differences. Another notable example is ''sakazuki'' "sake cup", which may be spelt as at least five different kanji: , and ; of these, the first two are common—formally is a small cup and a large cup. Local dialectical readings of kanji are also classified under ''kun'yomi'', most notably readings for words in Ryukyuan languages. Further, in rare cases gairaigo (borrowed words) have a single character associated with them, in which case this reading is formally classified as a ''kun'yomi'', because the character is being used for meaning, not sound.


''Ateji'' (当て字, 宛字 or あてじ) are characters used only for their sounds. In this case, pronunciation is still based on a standard reading, or used only for meaning (broadly a form of ''ateji'', narrowly ''jukujikun''). Therefore, only the full compound—not the individual character—has a reading. There are also special cases where the reading is completely different, often based on a historical or traditional reading. The analogous phenomenon occurs to a much lesser degree in Chinese varieties, where there are literary and colloquial readings of Chinese characters—borrowed readings and native readings. In Chinese these borrowed readings and native readings are etymologically related, since they are between Chinese varieties (which are related), not from Chinese to Japanese (which are not related). They thus form doublets and are generally similar, analogous to different on'yomi, reflecting different stages of Chinese borrowings into Japanese.


Longer readings exist for non-Jōyō characters and non-kanji symbols, where a long gairaigo word may be the reading (this is classed as ''kun'yomi''—see single character gairaigo, below)—the character has the seven kana reading ''senchimētoru'' "centimeter", though it is generally written as "cm" (with two half-width characters, so occupying one space); another common example is '%' (the percent sign), which has the five kana reading ''pāsento''.

Mixed readings

There are many kanji compounds that use a mixture of ''on'yomi'' and ''kun'yomi'', known as or words (depending on the order), which are themselves examples of this kind of compound (they are autological words): the first character of ''jūbako'' is read using ''on'yomi'', the second ''kun'yomi'' (''on-kun''). It is the other way around with ''yutō'' (''kun-on''). Formally, these are referred to as and . Note that in both these words, the ''on'yomi'' has a long vowel; long vowels in Japanese generally are derived from sound changes common to loans from Chinese, hence distinctive of ''on'yomi''. These are the Japanese form of hybrid words. Other examples include , and . ''Ateji'' often use mixed readings. For instance the city of Sapporo, whose name derives from the Ainu language and has no meaning in Japanese, is written with the ''on-kun'' compound (which includes ''sokuon'' as if it were a purely ''on'' compound).

Special readings

and are readings of kanji combinations that have no direct correspondence to the characters' individual ''on'yomi'' or ''kun'yomi''. From the point of view of the character, rather than the word, this is known as a , and these are listed in kanji dictionaries under the entry for the character. ''Gikun'' are when kanji that are barely or even at all related to their readings in terms of meaning are used, such as using meaning "cold" with reading ''fuyu'' ("winter"), rather than the standard character . These usages are typically non-standard and employed in specific contexts by individual writers, with few exceptions, such as the spelling of ''Asuka'', 飛鳥. Aided with furigana, ''gikun'' could be used to convey complex literary or poetic effect (especially if the readings contradict the kanji), or clarification if the referent may not be obvious. ''Jukujikun'' are when the standard kanji for a word are related to the meaning, but not the sound. The word is pronounced as a whole, not corresponding to sounds of individual kanji. For example, ("this morning") is jukujikun, and read neither as *''ima'asa'', the ''kun'yomi'' of the characters, infrequently as ''konchō'', the ''on'yomi'' of the characters, and not as any combination thereof. Instead it is read as ''kesa'', a native bisyllabic Japanese word that may be seen as a single morpheme, or as a fusion of ''kyō'' (previously ''kefu''), "today", and ''asa'', "morning". Likewise, ("today") is also jukujikun, usually read with the native reading ''kyō''; its on'yomi, ''konnichi'', does occur in certain words and expressions, especially in the broader sense "nowadays" or "current", such as ("present-day"), although in the phrase ''konnichi wa'' ("good day"), ''konnichi'' is typically spelled wholly with hiragana rather than with the kanji . Jukujikun are primarily used for some native Japanese words, such as Yamato ( or , the name of the dominant ethnic group of Japan, a former Japanese province as well as ancient name for Japan), and for some old borrowings, such as from Ainu, from Portuguese, or ''bīru'' (, wheat alcohol) from Dutch, especially if the word was borrowed before the Meiji Period. Words whose kanji are jukujikun are often usually written as hiragana (if native), or katakana (if borrowed); some old borrowed words are also written as hiragana, especially Portuguese loanwords such as ''karuta'' () from Portuguese "carta" (Eng: card), ''tempura'' () from Portuguese "tempora", and ''pan'' () from Portuguese "paõ" (Eng: bread), as well as ''tabako'' (). Sometimes, jukujikun can even have more kanji than there are syllables, examples being ''kera'' (, woodpecker), ''gumi'' (, silver berry/oleaster), and ''Hozumi'' (, a surname). This phenomenon is observed in animal names that are shortened and used as suffixes for zoological compound names, for example when , normally read as ''koganemushi'', is shortened to ''kogane'' in ''kurokogane'', although zoological names are commonly spelled with katakana rather than with kanji anyway. Outside zoology, this type of shortening only occurs on a handful of words, for example ''daigen(sui)'', or the historical male name suffix ''-emon'' which was shortened from the word ''uemon''. Jukujikun are quite varied. Often the kanji compound for jukujikun is idiosyncratic and created for the word, and where the corresponding Chinese word does not exist; in other cases a kanji compound for an existing Chinese word is reused, where the Chinese word and ''on'yomi'' may or may not be used in Japanese; for example, is jukujikun for ''tonakai'', from Ainu, but the ''on'yomi'' reading of ''junroku'' is also used. In some cases Japanese coinages have subsequently been borrowed back into Chinese, such as . The underlying word for jukujikun is a native Japanese word or foreign borrowing, which either does not have an existing kanji spelling (either ''kun'yomi'' or ''ateji'') or for which a new kanji spelling is produced. Most often the word is a noun, which may be a simple noun (not a compound or derived from a verb), or may be a verb form or a fusional pronunciation; for example is originally from the verb , while is fusional. In rare cases jukujikun is also applied to inflectional words (verbs and adjectives), in which case there is frequently a corresponding Chinese word. Examples of jukujikun for inflectional words follow. The most common example of a jukujikun adjective is , originally ''kawayu-i;'' the word is used in Chinese, but the corresponding ''on'yomi'' is not used in Japanese. By contrast, "appropriate" can be either or are both used; the ''-shii'' ending is because these were formerly a different class of adjectives. A common example of a verb with jukujikun is , corresponding to ''on'yomi'' . A sample jukujikun deverbal (noun derived from a verb form) is , from , spelling from . See 義訓 and 熟字訓 for many more examples. Note that there are also compound verbs and, less commonly, compound adjectives, and while these may have multiple kanji without intervening characters, they are read using usual ''kun'yomi;'' examples include and . Typographically, the furigana for jukujikun are often written so they are centered across the entire word, or for inflectional words over the entire root—corresponding to the reading being related to the entire word—rather than each part of the word being centered over its corresponding character, as is often done for the usual phono-semantic readings. Broadly speaking, jukujikun can be considered a form of ''ateji'', though in narrow usage "ateji" refers specifically to using characters for sound and not meaning (sound-spelling), rather than meaning and not sound (meaning-spelling), as in jukujikun. Many jukujikun (established meaning-spellings) began life as gikun (improvised meaning-spellings). Occasionally a single word will have many such kanji spellings; an extreme example is , which may be spelt in a great many ways, including , , , , , , , ,, , and —many of these variant spellings are particular to haiku poems.

Single character gairaigo

In some rare cases, an individual kanji has a reading that is borrowed from a modern foreign language (gairaigo), though most often these words are written in katakana. Notable examples include , , , and . See list of single character gairaigo for more. These are classed as ''kun'yomi'' of a single character, because the character is being used for meaning only (without the Chinese pronunciation), rather than as ateji, which is the classification used when a gairaigo term is written as a compound (2 or more characters). However, unlike the vast majority of other ''kun'yomi'', these readings are not native Japanese, but rather borrowed, so the "kun'yomi" label can be misleading. The readings are also written in katakana, unlike the usual hiragana for native ''kun'yomi''. Note that most of these characters are for units, particularly SI units, in many cases using new characters (kokuji) coined during the Meiji period, such as .

Other readings

Some kanji also have lesser-known readings called ''nanori'' (), which are mostly used for names (often given names) and in general, are closely related to the ''kun'yomi''. Place names sometimes also use ''nanori'' or, occasionally, unique readings not found elsewhere. For example, there is the surname (literally, "little birds at play") that implies there are no predators, such as hawks, present. Pronounced, "''kotori asobu''". The name then can also mean (''taka ga inai'', literally, "no hawks around") and it can be shortened to be pronounced as ''Takanashi''.

When to use which reading

Although there are general rules for when to use ''on'yomi'' and when to use ''kun'yomi'', the language is littered with exceptions, and it is not always possible for even a native speaker to know how to read a character without prior knowledge (this is especially true for names, both of people and places); further, a given character may have multiple ''kun'yomi'' or ''on'yomi''. When reading Japanese, one primarily recognizes ''words'' (multiple characters and okurigana) and their readings, rather than individual characters, and only guess readings of characters when trying to "sound out" an unrecognized word. Homographs exist, however, which can sometimes be deduced from context, and sometimes cannot, requiring a glossary. For example, may be read either as ''kyō'' "today (informal)" (special fused reading for native word) or as ''konnichi'' "these days (formal)" (''on'yomi''); in formal writing this will generally be read as ''konnichi''. In some cases multiple readings are common, as in "pork soup", which is commonly pronounced both as ''ton-jiru'' (mixed ''on-kun'') and ''buta-jiru'' (''kun-kun''), with ''ton'' somewhat more common nationally. Inconsistencies abound—for example ''gyū-niku'' "beef" and ''yō-niku'' "mutton" have ''on-on'' readings, but ''buta-niku'' "pork" and ''tori-niku'' "poultry" have ''kun-on'' readings. The main guideline is that a single kanji followed by ''okurigana'' (hiragana characters that are part of the word)—as used in native verbs and adjectives—''always'' indicates ''kun'yomi'', while kanji compounds (kango) usually use ''on'yomi'', which is usually ''kan-on;'' however, other ''on'yomi'' are also common, and ''kun'yomi'' are also commonly used in kango. For a kanji in isolation without okurigana, it is typically read using their ''kun'yomi'', though there are numerous exceptions. For example, "iron" is usually read with the ''on'yomi'' ''tetsu'' rather than the ''kun'yomi'' ''kurogane''. Chinese ''on'yomi'' which are not the common ''kan-on'' reading are a frequent cause of difficulty or mistakes when encountering unfamiliar words or for inexperienced readers, though skilled natives will recognize the word; a good example is (''go-on''), where is usually instead read as ''kai''. Okurigana (送り仮名) are used with ''kun'yomi'' to mark the inflected ending of a native verb or adjective, or by convention. Note that Japanese verbs and adjectives are closed class, and do not generally admit new words (borrowed Chinese vocabulary, which are nouns, can form verbs by adding at the end, and adjectives via ''-no'' or ''-na'', but cannot become native Japanese vocabulary, which inflect). For example: ''aka-i'' "red", ''atara-shii'' "new", ''mi-ru'' "(to) see". Okurigana can be used to indicate which ''kun'yomi'' to use, as in ''ta-beru'' versus ''ku-u'' (casual), both meaning "(to) eat", but this is not always sufficient, as in , which may be read as ''a-ku'' or ''hira-ku'', both meaning "(to) open". is a particularly complicated example, with multiple ''kun'' and ''on'yomi''—see okurigana: 生 for details. Okurigana is also used for some nouns and adverbs, as in ''nasake'' "sympathy", ''kanarazu'' "invariably", but not for ''kane'' "money", for instance. Okurigana is an important aspect of kanji usage in Japanese; see that article for more information on ''kun'yomi'' orthography Kanji occurring in are generally read using ''on'yomi'', especially for four-character compounds (''yojijukugo''). Though again, exceptions abound, for example, ''jōhō'' "information", ''gakkō'' "school", and ''shinkansen'' "bullet train" all follow this pattern. This isolated kanji versus compound distinction gives words for similar concepts completely different pronunciations. "north" and "east" use the ''kun'yomi'' ''kita'' and ''higashi'', being stand-alone characters, but "northeast", as a compound, uses the ''on'yomi'' ''hokutō''. This is further complicated by the fact that many kanji have more than one ''on'yomi'': is read as ''sei'' in ''sensei'' "teacher" but as ''shō'' in ''isshō'' "one's whole life". Meaning can also be an important indicator of reading; is read ''i'' when it means "simple", but as ''eki'' when it means "divination", both being ''on'yomi'' for this character. These rules of thumb have many exceptions. ''Kun'yomi'' compound words are not as numerous as those with ''on'yomi'', but neither are they rare. Examples include ''tegami'' "letter", ''higasa'' "parasol", and the famous ''kamikaze'' "divine wind". Such compounds may also have okurigana, such as (also written ) ''karaage'' "Chinese-style fried chicken" and ''origami'', although many of these can also be written with the okurigana omitted (for example, or ). Similarly, some ''on'yomi'' characters can also be used as words in isolation: ''ai'' "love", ''Zen'', ''ten'' "mark, dot". Most of these cases involve kanji that have no ''kun'yomi'', so there can be no confusion, although exceptions do occur. Alone may be read as ''kin'' "gold" or as ''kane'' "money, metal"; only context can determine the writer's intended reading and meaning. Multiple readings have given rise to a number of homographs, in some cases having different meanings depending on how they are read. One example is , which can be read in three different ways: ''jōzu'' (skilled), ''uwate'' (upper part), or ''kamite'' (stage left/house right). In addition, has the reading ''umai'' (skilled). More subtly, has three different readings, all meaning "tomorrow": ''ashita'' (casual), ''asu'' (polite), and ''myōnichi'' (formal). Furigana (reading glosses) is often used to clarify any potential ambiguities. Conversely, in some cases homophonous terms may be distinguished in writing by different characters, but not so distinguished in speech, and hence potentially confusing. In some cases when it is important to distinguish these in speech, the reading of a relevant character may be changed. For example, (privately established, esp. school) and (city established) are both normally pronounced ''shi-ritsu;'' in speech these may be distinguished by the alternative pronunciations ''watakushi-ritsu'' and ''ichi-ritsu''. More informally, in legal jargon "preamble" and "full text" are both pronounced ''zen-bun'', so may be pronounced ''mae-bun'' for clarity, as in "Have you memorized the preamble ot 'whole text'of the constitution?". As in these examples, this is primarily using a ''kun'yomi'' for one character in a normally ''on'yomi'' term. As stated above, ''jūbako'' and ''yutō'' readings are also not uncommon. Indeed, all four combinations of reading are possible: ''on-on'', ''kun-kun'', ''kun-on'' and ''on-kun''.

Ambiguous readings

In some instances where even context cannot easily provide clarity for homophones, alternative readings or mixed readings can be used instead of regular readings to avoid ambiguity. For example:

Place names

Several famous place names, including those of Japan itself ( ''Nihon'' or sometimes ''Nippon''), those of some cities such as Tokyo ( ''Tōkyō'') and Kyoto ( ''Kyōto''), and those of the main islands Honshu ( ''Honshū''), Kyushu ( ''Kyūshū''), Shikoku ( ''Shikoku''), and Hokkaido ( ''Hokkaidō'') are read with ''on'yomi''; however, the majority of Japanese place names are read with ''kun'yomi'': ''Ōsaka'', ''Aomori'', ''Hakone''. Names often use characters and readings that are not in common use outside of names. When characters are used as abbreviations of place names, their reading may not match that in the original. The Osaka () and Kobe () baseball team, the Hanshin () Tigers, take their name from the ''on'yomi'' of the second kanji of ''Ōsaka'' and the first of ''Kōbe''. The name of the Keisei () railway line—linking Tokyo () and Narita ()—is formed similarly, although the reading of from is ''kei'', despite ''kyō'' already being an ''on'yomi'' in the word ''Tōkyō''. Japanese family names are also usually read with ''kun'yomi'': ''Yamada'', ''Tanaka'', ''Suzuki''. Japanese given names often have very irregular readings. Although they are not typically considered ''jūbako'' or ''yutō'', they often contain mixtures of ''kun'yomi'', ''on'yomi'' and ''nanori'', such as ''Daisuke'' 'on-kun'' ''Natsumi'' 'kun-on'' Being chosen at the discretion of the parents, the readings of given names do not follow any set rules, and it is impossible to know with certainty how to read a person's name without independent verification. Parents can be quite creative, and rumours abound of children called ''Āsu'' ("Earth") and ''Enjeru'' ("Angel"); neither are common names, and have normal readings ''chikyū'' and ''tenshi'' respectively. Some common Japanese names can be written in multiple ways, e.g. Akira can be written as , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and many other characters and kanji combinations not listed, Satoshi can be written as , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , etc., and Haruka can be written as , , , , , , , , and several other possibilities. Common patterns do exist, however, allowing experienced readers to make a good guess for most names. To alleviate any confusion on how to pronounce the names of other Japanese people, most official Japanese documents require Japanese to write their names in both kana and kanji. Chinese place names and Chinese personal names appearing in Japanese texts, if spelled in kanji, are almost invariably read with ''on'yomi''. Especially for older and well-known names, the resulting Japanese pronunciation may differ widely from that used by modern Chinese speakers. For example, Mao Zedong's name is pronounced as in Japanese, and the name of the legendary Monkey King, Sun Wukong, is pronounced ''Son Gokū'' () in Japanese. Today, Chinese names that are not well known in Japan are often spelled in katakana instead, in a form much more closely approximating the native Chinese pronunciation. Alternatively, they may be written in kanji with katakana furigana. Many such cities have names that come from non-Chinese languages like Mongolian or Manchu. Examples of such not-well-known Chinese names include: Internationally renowned Chinese-named cities tend to imitate the older English pronunciations of their names, regardless of the kanji's ''on'yomi'' or the Mandarin or Cantonese pronunciation, and can be written in either katakana or kanji. Examples include: Notes: *Guangzhou, the city, is pronounced ''Kōshū'', while Guangdong, its province, is pronounced ''Kanton'', not ''Kōtō'' (in this case, opting for a Tō-on reading rather than the usual Kan-on reading). *Kaohsiung was originally pronounced ''Takao'' (or similar) in Hokkien and Japanese. It received this written name (kanji/Chinese) from Japanese, and later its spoken Mandarin name from the corresponding characters. The English name "Kaohsiung" derived from its Mandarin pronunciation. Today it is pronounced either カオシュン or タカオ in Japanese. *Taipei is generally pronounced たいほく in Japanese. In some cases the same kanji can appear in a given word with different readings. Normally this occurs when a character is duplicated and the reading of the second character has voicing (''rendaku''), as in ''hito-bito'' "people" (more often written with the iteration mark as ), but in rare cases the readings can be unrelated, as in .

Pronunciation assistance

Because of the ambiguities involved, kanji sometimes have their pronunciation for the given context spelled out in ruby characters known as ''furigana'', (small ''kana'' written above or to the right of the character) or ''kumimoji'' (small ''kana'' written in-line after the character). This is especially true in texts for children or foreign learners. It is also used in newspapers and ''manga'' (comics) for rare or unusual readings, or for situations like the first time a character's name is given, and for characters not included in the officially recognized set of essential kanji. Works of fiction sometimes use ''furigana'' to create new "words" by giving normal kanji non-standard readings, or to attach a foreign word rendered in katakana as the reading for a kanji or kanji compound of the same or similar meaning.

Spelling words

Conversely, specifying a given kanji, or spelling out a kanji word—whether the pronunciation is known or not—can be complicated, due to the fact that there is not a commonly used standard way to refer to individual kanji (one does not refer to "kanji #237"), and that a given reading does not map to a single kanji—indeed there are many homophonous ''words'', not simply individual characters, particularly for ''kango'' (with ''on'yomi''). Easiest is to write the word out—either on paper or tracing it in the air—or look it up (given the pronunciation) in a dictionary, particularly an electronic dictionary; when this is not possible, such as when speaking over the phone or writing implements are not available (and tracing in air is too complicated), various techniques can be used. These include giving ''kun'yomi'' for characters—these are often unique—using a well-known word with the same character (and preferably the same pronunciation and meaning), and describing the character via its components. For example, one may explain how to spell the word via the words , , and —the first two use the ''kun'yomi'', the third is a well-known compound—saying "''kaori'', ''karai'', ''ryō'' as in ''inryō''."


In dictionaries, both words and individual characters have readings glossed, via various conventions. Native words and Sino-Japanese vocabulary are glossed in hiragana (for both ''kun'' and ''on'' readings), while borrowings (''gairaigo'')—including modern borrowings from Chinese—are glossed in katakana; this is the standard writing convention also used in furigana. By contrast, readings for individual characters are conventionally written in katakana for ''on'' readings, and hiragana for ''kun'' readings. Kun readings may further have a separator to indicate which characters are okurigana, and which are considered readings of the character itself. For example, in the entry for , the reading corresponding to the basic verb may be written as (''ta.beru''), to indicate that ''ta'' is the reading of the character itself. Further, kanji dictionaries often list compounds including irregular readings of a kanji.

Local developments and divergences from Chinese

Since kanji are essentially Chinese ''hanzi'' used to write Japanese, the majority of characters used in modern Japanese still retain their Chinese meaning, physical resemblance with some of their modern traditional Chinese characters counterparts, and a degree of similarity with Classical Chinese pronunciation imported to Japan from 5th to 9th century. Nevertheless, after centuries of development, there is a notable number of kanji used in modern Japanese which have different meaning from ''hanzi'' used in modern Chinese. Such differences are the result of: * the use of characters created in Japan, * characters that have been given different meanings in Japanese, and * post-World War II simplifications (''shinjitai'') of the character. Likewise, the process of character simplification in mainland China since the 1950s has resulted in the fact that Japanese speakers who have not studied Chinese may not recognize some simplified characters.


In Japanese, refers to Chinese characters made outside of China. Specifically, kanji made in Japan are referred to as . They are primarily formed in the usual way of Chinese characters, namely by combining existing components, though using a combination that is not used in China. The corresponding phenomenon in Korea is called ''gukja'' (), a cognate name; there are however far fewer Korean-coined characters than Japanese-coined ones. Other languages using the Chinese family of scripts sometimes have far more extensive systems of native characters, most significantly Vietnamese chữ Nôm, which comprises over 20,000 characters used throughout traditional Vietnamese writing, and Zhuang sawndip, which comprises over 10,000 characters, which are still in use. Since kokuji are generally devised for existing native words, these usually only have native ''kun'' readings. However, they occasionally have a Chinese ''on'' reading, derived from a phonetic, as in , ''dō'', and in rare cases only have an ''on'' reading, as in , ''sen'', from , which was derived for use in technical compounds ( means "gland", hence used in medical terminology). The majority of kokuji are ideogrammatic compounds (), meaning that they are composed of two (or more) characters, with the meaning associated with the combination. For example, is composed of (person radical) plus (action), hence "action of a person, work". This is in contrast to kanji generally, which are overwhelmingly phono-semantic compounds. This difference is because kokuji were coined to express Japanese words, so borrowing existing (Chinese) readings could not express these—combining existing characters to logically express the meaning was the simplest way to achieve this. Other illustrative examples (below) include ''sakaki'' tree, formed as "tree" and "god", literally "divine tree", and ''tsuji'' "crossroads, street" formed as () "road" and "cross", hence "cross-road". In terms of meanings, these are especially for natural phenomena (esp. flora and fauna species), including a very large number of fish, such as (sardine), (codfish), (seaperch), and (sillago), and trees, such as (evergreen oak), (Japanese cedar), (birch, maple) and (spindle tree). In other cases they refer to specifically Japanese abstract concepts, everyday words (like , "crossroads", see above), or later technical coinages (such as , "gland", see above). There are hundreds of ''kokuji'' in existence. Many are rarely used, but a number have become commonly used components of the written Japanese language. These include the following: Jōyō kanji has about nine kokuji; there is some dispute over classification, but generally includes these: * ''dō'', ''hatara(ku)'' "work", the most commonly used kokuji, used in the fundamental verb , included in elementary texts and on the Proficiency Test N5. * ''ko(mu)'', used in the fundamental verb * ''nio(u)'', used in common verb * ''hatake'' "field of crops" * ''sen'', "gland" * ''tōge'' "mountain pass" * ''waku'', "frame" * ''hei'', "wall" * ''shibo(ru)'', "to squeeze" (disputed; see below); a ''jinmeiyō kanji'' * ''sakaki'' "tree, genus ''Cleyera''" * ''tsuji'' "crossroads, street" * ''monme'' (unit of weight) Hyōgaiji: * ''shitsuke'' "training, rearing (an animal, a child)" Some of these characters (for example, , "gland") have been introduced to China. In some cases the Chinese reading is the inferred Chinese reading, interpreting the character as a phono-semantic compound (as in how ''on'' readings are sometimes assigned to these characters in Chinese), while in other cases (such as ), the Japanese ''on'' reading is borrowed (in general this differs from the modern Chinese pronunciation of this phonetic). Similar coinages occurred to a more limited extent in Korea and Vietnam. Historically, some kokuji date back to very early Japanese writing, being found in the ''Man'yōshū'', for example— ''iwashi'' "sardine" dates to the Nara period (8th century)—while they have continued to be created as late as the late 19th century, when a number of characters were coined in the Meiji era for new scientific concepts. For example, some characters were produced as regular compounds for some (but not all) SI units, such as ( "meter" + "thousand, kilo-") for kilometer, ( "liter" + "thousand, kilo-") for kiloliter, and ( "gram" + "thousand, kilo-") for kilogram. However, SI units in Japanese today are almost exclusively written using rōmaji or katakana such as or for km, for kl, and or for kg. In Japan the kokuji category is strictly defined as characters whose ''earliest'' appearance is in Japan. If a character appears earlier in the Chinese literature, it is not considered a kokuji even if the character was independently coined in Japan and unrelated to the Chinese character (meaning "not borrowed from Chinese"). In other words, kokuji are not simply characters that were made in Japan, but characters that were ''first'' made in Japan. An illustrative example is . This spelling was created in Edo period Japan from the ateji (phonetic kanji spelling) for the existing word ''ankō'' by adding the radical to each character—the characters were "made in Japan". However, is not considered kokuji, as it is found in ancient Chinese texts as a corruption of (魚匽). is considered kokuji, as it has not been found in any earlier Chinese text. Casual listings may be more inclusive, including characters such as . Another example is , which is sometimes not considered kokuji due to its earlier presence as a corruption of Chinese .


In addition to ''kokuji'', there are kanji that have been given meanings in Japanese that are different from their original Chinese meanings. These are not considered ''kokuji'' but are instead called ''kokkun'' () and include characters such as the following:

Types of kanji by category

Han-dynasty scholar Xu Shen in his 2nd-century dictionary ''Shuowen Jiezi'' classified Chinese characters into six categories ( ''liùshū'', Japanese: ''rikusho''). The traditional classification is still taught but is problematic and no longer the focus of modern lexicographic practice, as some categories are not clearly defined, nor are they mutually exclusive: the first four refer to structural composition, while the last two refer to usage.

''Shōkei moji'' ()

''Shōkei'' (Mandarin: ''xiàngxíng'') characters are pictographic sketches of the object they represent. For example, is an eye, while is a tree. The current forms of the characters are very different from the originals, though their representations are more clear in oracle bone script and seal script. These pictographic characters make up only a small fraction of modern characters.

''Shiji moji'' ()

''Shiji'' (Mandarin: ''zhǐshì'') characters are ideographs, often called "simple ideographs" or "simple indicatives" to distinguish them and tell the difference from compound ideographs (below). They are usually simple graphically and represent an abstract concept such as "up" or "above" and "down" or "below". These make up a tiny fraction of modern characters.

''Kaii moji'' ()

''Kaii'' (Mandarin: ''huìyì'') characters are compound ideographs, often called "compound indicatives", "associative compounds", or just "ideographs". These are usually a combination of pictographs that combine semantically to present an overall meaning. An example of this type is (rest) from (person radical) and (tree). Another is the ''kokuji'' (mountain pass) made from (mountain), (up) and (down). These make up a tiny fraction of modern characters.

''Keisei moji'' ()

''Keisei'' (Mandarin: ''xíngshēng'') characters are phono-semantic or radical-phonetic compounds, sometimes called "semantic-phonetic", "semasio-phonetic", or "phonetic-ideographic" characters, are by far the largest category, making up about 90% of the characters in the standard lists; however, some of the most frequently used kanji belong to one of the three groups mentioned above, so ''keisei moji'' will usually make up less than 90% of the characters in a text. Typically they are made up of two components, one of which (most commonly, but by no means always, the left or top element) suggests the general category of the meaning or semantic context, and the other (most commonly the right or bottom element) approximates the pronunciation. The pronunciation relates to the original Chinese, and may now only be distantly detectable in the modern Japanese ''on'yomi'' of the kanji; it generally has no relation at all to ''kun'yomi''. The same is true of the semantic context, which may have changed over the centuries or in the transition from Chinese to Japanese. As a result, it is a common error in folk etymology to fail to recognize a phono-semantic compound, typically instead inventing a compound-indicative explanation.

''Tenchū moji'' ()

''Tenchū'' (Mandarin: ''zhuǎnzhù'') characters have variously been called "derivative characters", "derivative cognates", or translated as "mutually explanatory" or "mutually synonymous" characters; this is the most problematic of the six categories, as it is vaguely defined. It may refer to kanji where the meaning or application has become extended. For example, is used for 'music' and 'comfort, ease', with different pronunciations in Chinese reflected in the two different ''on'yomi'', ''gaku'' 'music' and ''raku'' 'pleasure'.

''Kasha moji'' ()

''Kasha'' (Mandarin: ''jiǎjiè'') are rebuses, sometimes called "phonetic loans". The etymology of the characters follows one of the patterns above, but the present-day meaning is completely unrelated to this. A character was appropriated to represent a similar-sounding word. For example, in ancient Chinese was originally a pictograph for "wheat". Its syllable was homophonous with the verb meaning "to come", and the character is used for that verb as a result, without any embellishing "meaning" element attached. The character for wheat , originally meant "to come", being a ''keisei moji'' having 'foot' at the bottom for its meaning part and "wheat" at the top for sound. The two characters swapped meaning, so today the more common word has the simpler character. This borrowing of sounds has a very long history.

Related symbols

The iteration mark () is used to indicate that the preceding kanji is to be repeated, functioning similarly to a ditto mark in English. It is pronounced as though the kanji were written twice in a row, for example and . This mark also appears in personal and place names, as in the surname Sasaki (). This symbol is a simplified version of the kanji , a variant of . Another abbreviated symbol is , in appearance a small katakana "ke", but actually a simplified version of the kanji , a general counter. It is pronounced "ka" when used to indicate quantity (such as , ''rokkagetsu'' "six months"). The way how these symbols may be produced on a computer depends on the operating system. In macOS, typing will reveal the symbol as well as , and . To produce , type . Under Windows, typing will reveal some of these symbols, while in Google IME, may be used.


Kanji, whose thousands of symbols defy ordering by conventions such as those used for the Latin script, are often collated using the traditional Chinese radical-and-stroke sorting method. In this system, common components of characters are identified; these are called radicals. Characters are grouped by their primary radical, then ordered by number of pen strokes within radicals. For example, the kanji character , meaning "cherry", is sorted as a ten-stroke character under the four-stroke primary radical meaning "tree". When there is no obvious radical or more than one radical, convention governs which is used for collation. Other kanji sorting methods, such as the SKIP system, have been devised by various authors. Modern general-purpose Japanese dictionaries (as opposed to specifically character dictionaries) generally collate all entries, including words written using kanji, according to their kana representations (reflecting the way they are pronounced). The gojūon ordering of kana is normally used for this purpose.

Kanji education

Japanese schoolchildren are expected to learn 1,006 basic kanji characters, the ''kyōiku kanji'', before finishing the sixth grade. The order in which these characters are learned is fixed. The ''kyōiku kanji'' list is a subset of a larger list, originally of 1,945 kanji characters and extended to 2,136 in 2010, are known as the ''jōyō kanji''—characters required for the level of fluency necessary to read newspapers and literature in Japanese. This larger list of characters is to be mastered by the end of the ninth grade.Halpern, J. (2006) ''The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary''. . p. 38a. Schoolchildren learn the characters by repetition and radical. Students studying Japanese as a foreign language are often required by a curriculum to acquire kanji without having first learned the vocabulary associated with them. Strategies for these learners vary from copying-based methods to mnemonic-based methods such as those used in James Heisig's series ''Remembering the Kanji''. Other textbooks use methods based on the etymology of the characters, such as Mathias and Habein's ''The Complete Guide to Everyday Kanji'' and Henshall's ''A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters''. Pictorial mnemonics, as in the text ''Kanji Pict-o-graphix'', are also seen. The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation provides the ''Kanji kentei'' ( ''Nihon kanji nōryoku kentei shiken''; "Test of Japanese Kanji Aptitude"), which tests the ability to read and write kanji. The highest level of the ''Kanji kentei'' tests about six thousand kanji.

See also

* Braille kanji * Chinese influence on Japanese culture * Han unification * Han-Nom (Vietnamese equivalent) * Hanja (Korean equivalent) * Chinese family of scripts * Japanese script reform * Japanese typefaces (''shotai'') * Japanese writing system * Kanji of the year * List of kanji by concept * List of kanji by stroke count * POP (Point of Purchase typeface) * Radical (Chinese character) * Stroke order * Table of kanji radicals



* DeFrancis, John (1990). ''The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy''. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. . * Hadamitzky, W., and Spahn, M., (1981) ''Kanji and Kana'', Boston: Tuttle. * Hannas, William. C. (1997). ''Asia's Orthographic Dilemma''. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. (paperback); (hardcover). * Kaiser, Stephen (1991). "Introduction to the Japanese Writing System". In ''Kodansha's Compact Kanji Guide''. Tokyo: Kondansha International. . * Miyake, Marc Hideo (2003). ''Old Japanese: A Phonetic Reconstruction''. New York, London: RoutledgeCurzon. * Morohashi, Tetsuji. ''Dai Kan-Wa Jiten'' (Comprehensive Chinese–Japanese Dictionary) 1984–1986. Tokyo: Taishukan * Mitamura, Joyce Yumi and Mitamura, Yasuko Kosaka (1997). ''Let's Learn Kanji''. Tokyo: Kondansha International. . * Unger, J. Marshall (1996). ''Literacy and Script Reform in Occupation Japan: Reading Between the Lines''.

External links

Integrated system for finding and learning kanji, Japanese vocab and grammar, with multiple ways to search, 3500+ mnemonics, free flashcards and lessons
- System for learning radicals, kanji, and vocabulary using spaced repetition and mnemonics; first 3 levels are free.
A free Japanese-English dictionary with flashcard study features for iOS and Android
Free flashcard learning tool with mnemonic phrases for each character
Find Kanji by radical, readings or meanings and see how to draw it. Common words that contain it are also shown
Kanji Dictionary
online Free Kanji Dictionary
Jim Breen's WWWJDIC server
used to find Kanji from English or romanized Japanese
- Japanese-English electronic dictionary with special focus on kanji.
RomajiDesu Kanji Dictionary
a comprehensive Kanji dictionary with strokes order and various lookup methods.
Kanji flashcard tool that runs on mobile phones.
Convert Kanji to Romaji, Hiragana
Converts Kanji and websites to forms that are easy to read and gives a word by word translation
Learn Japanese Kanji
How to write Kanji in Japanese
Drill the kanji
online Java tool (Asahi-net)
Kanji Alive
Online kanji learning tool in wide use at many universities, colleges and high-schools.
Real Kanji
Practice kanji using different typefaces.

discussion paper by Takako Tomoda in the ttp://www.japanesestudies.org.uk/ ''Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies'' August 19, 2005.
Genetic Kanji
etymologically organized lists for learning kanji.
Open source kanji dictionary for desktop
Denshi Jisho
Online Japanese dictionary

organized list of kanji which takes into account both grade, stroke count and frequency
The Kanji Code
- a book that lists 150 Japanese phonetic components
Kanji Database
Katsuo Tamaoka, Nagoya University, Japan - Comprehensive interactive Kanji and Jukugo database
Flashcard learning app

Glyph conversion

A simple Shinjitai—Kyūjitai converter

* ttps://web.archive.org/web/20090204033300/http://homepage3.nifty.com/jgrammar/ja/tools/tradkan0.htm A complex Shinjitai—Kyūjitai converter
A downloadable Shinjitai—Kyūjitai—Simplified Chinese character converter
{{Authority control Category:Japanese writing system terms Category:Logographic writing systems Category:Japanese writing system