The Info List - Kanji

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KANJI (漢字; Japanese pronunciation: _ listen ), or kan'ji_, are the adopted logographic Chinese characters (_hànzì_) that are used in the modern Japanese writing system along with hiragana and katakana . The Japanese term _kanji_ for the Chinese characters literally means "Han characters" and is written using the same characters as the Chinese word _hànzì _.




* Stroke order * Radicals * Kyōiku kanji * Jōyō kanji * Jinmeiyō kanji * Hyōgai kanji * List of kanji by stroke count * List of kanji by concept


* Hiragana * Katakana * Hentaigana * Man\'yōgana * Sogana * Gojūon

Typographic symbols

* Japanese punctuation * Iteration mark



* Furigana * Okurigana * Braille



* Hepburn (colloquial) * Kunrei (ISO ) * Nihon (ISO transliteration ) * JSL (transliteration) * Wāpuro (keyboard)

* v * t * e


TYPE Logographic

LANGUAGES Old Japanese , Japanese

PARENT SYSTEMS Oracle bone script

* Seal script

* Clerical script

* Kaishu

* Kanji

SISTER SYSTEMS Hanja , Zhuyin , traditional Chinese , simplified Chinese , Nom , Khitan script , Jurchen script

DIRECTION Left-to-right

ISO 15924 Hani, 500


THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS IPA PHONETIC SYMBOLS. Without proper rendering support , you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.




* Precursors

* Oracle-bone * Bronze


* Seal (bird-worm * large * small )

* Clerical * Regular

* Semi-cursive * Cursive * Flat brush


* Imitation Song * Ming * Sans-serif


* Strokes (order )

* Radicals * Classification




* Kangxi Dictionary * Xin Zixing

* General Standard Chinese Characters (PRC) * Graphemes of Commonly-used Chinese Characters (Hong Kong) * Standard Typefaces for Chinese Characters (ROC Taiwan)


* Graphemic variants * General Standard Characters (PRC) * Jōyō kanji (Japan)


* Commonly-used Characters (PRC) * Frequently-used Characters (PRC) * Tōyō kanji (Japan)



* Traditional characters

* Simplified characters

* (first round * second round )

* Debate


* Old (Kyūjitai) * New (Shinjitai)

* Ryakuji


* Differences in Shinjitai and Simplified characters


* Yakja


* Table of Simplified Characters


* Literary and colloquial readings


* Written Chinese * Zetian characters

* Nü Shu * Kanji ( Kokuji ) * Kana (Man\'yōgana ) * Idu * Hanja ( Gukja ) * Nom * Sawndip

* v * t * e

For a list of words relating to kanji, see the JAPANESE-COINED CJKV CHARACTERS_ category of words in Wiktionary , the free dictionary.


* 1 History

* 2 Orthographic reform and lists of kanji

* 2.1 Kyōiku kanji * 2.2 Jōyō kanji * 2.3 Jinmeiyō kanji * 2.4 Hyōgai kanji

* 2.5 Japanese Industrial Standards for kanji

* 2.5.1 Gaiji

* 3 Total number of kanji

* 4 Readings

* 4.1 _On\'yomi_ (Sino-Japanese reading) * 4.2 Native reading (_Kun\'yomi_) * 4.3 Mixed readings * 4.4 Special readings * 4.5 Single character gairaigo * 4.6 Other readings * 4.7 When to use which reading * 4.8 Pronunciation assistance * 4.9 Spelling words * 4.10 Dictionaries

* 5 Local developments and divergences from Chinese

* 5.1 Kokuji * 5.2 Kokkun

* 6 Types of Kanji: by category

* 6.1 _Shōkei moji_ (象形文字) * 6.2 _Shiji moji_ (指事文字) * 6.3 _Kaii moji_ (会意文字) * 6.4 _Keisei moji_ (形声文字) * 6.5 _Tenchū moji_ (転注文字) * 6.6 _Kasha moji_ (仮借文字)

* 7 Related symbols * 8 Collation * 9 Kanji education * 10 See also * 11 Notes * 12 References

* 13 External links

* 13.1 Glyph conversion


_ Nihon Shoki _ (720 AD), considered by historians and archaeologists as the most complete extant historical record of ancient Japan, was written entirely in kanji.

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 Yamato emissary in 57 AD. Chinese coins from the first century AD have been found in Yayoi-period archaeological sites. 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 (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.

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.

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 CE, 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 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.


Main article: Japanese script reform A young woman practicing kanji. Ukiyo-e woodblock print by Yōshū Chikanobu , 1897

In 1946, following 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. This was done with the goal of facilitating learning for children and simplifying 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 _shinjitai _ (新字体). 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 _hyōgaiji _ (表外字).


Main article: Kyōiku kanji

The _kyōiku kanji_ (教育漢字, lit. "education kanji") are 1,006 characters that Japanese children learn in elementary school. Originally the list only contained 881 characters. This was expanded to 996 characters in 1977. It was not until 1982 the list was expanded to its current size. The grade-level breakdown of these kanji is known as the _gakunen-betsu kanji haitōhyō_ (学年別漢字配当表), or the _gakushū kanji_.


Main article: Jōyō kanji

The _jōyō kanji_ (常用漢字, regular-use kanji) 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 _tōyō kanji _ (当用漢字, general-use kanji), introduced in 1946. Originally numbering 1,945 characters, the _jōyō kanji_ list was extended to 2,136 in 2010. Some of the new characters were previously _Jinmeiyō kanji_; some are used to write prefecture names: 阪, 熊, 奈, 岡, 鹿, 梨, 阜, 埼, 茨, 栃 and 媛.


Main article: Jinmeiyō kanji

Since September 27, 2004, the _jinmeiyō kanji_ (人名用漢字, kanji for use in personal names) consist of 3,119 characters, containing the _jōyō kanji_ plus an additional 983 kanji found in people's names. 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 3,119, and sometimes it only refers to the 983 that are only used for names.


Main article: Hyōgai kanji

_Hyōgai kanji_ (表外漢字, "unlisted characters") 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.


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 , Hindu-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.


_Gaiji_ (外字, literally "external characters") 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 codepoint 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 element to encode any non-standard character or glyph, including gaiji. (The G stands for "gaiji")


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; however, the majority of these are not in common use in any country, and many are obscure variants or archaic forms.

Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 characters are commonly used in Japan, a few thousand more find occasional use, and a total of 13,108 characters can be encoded in various Japanese Industrial Standards for kanji .




a) semantic _on_ L1 L1

b) semantic _kun_ L1 L2

c) phonetic _on_ — L1

d) phonetic _kun_ — L2

*With L1 representing the language borrowed from (Chinese) and L2 representing the borrowing language (Japanese).

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 point of view of the reader, 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, 今日 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 _kiku_ (菊, "chrysanthemum", an _on_-reading) or _iwashi_ (鰯, "sardine", a _kun_-reading); _kun_-only are common for Japanese-coined kanji (_kokuji_). Some common kanji have ten or more possible readings; the most complex common example is 生, 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 8 basic readings (first 2 are _on,_ 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. In other cases, a character is used only for sound (_ateji _). 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 an 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.


The _ON\'YOMI_ (音読み, literally "sound(-based) reading"), 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 not the Chinese pronunciation or reading itself. 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 働 "to work", which has the _kun'yomi_ "_hataraku_" and the _on'yomi_ "_dō_", and 腺 "gland", which has only the _on'yomi_ "_sen_" – in both cases these come from the _on'yomi_ of the phonetic component, respectively 動 "_dō_" and 泉 "_sen_".

Generally, _on'yomi_ are classified into four types according to their region and time of origin:

* _GO-ON _ (呉音, "Wu sound") readings are from the pronunciation during the Southern and Northern 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. * _KAN-ON _ (漢音, "Han sound") 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 or China proper . * _Tō-ON _ (唐音, "Tang sound") 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 _Tōsō-on_ (唐宋音, Tang and Song sound). * _Kan'yō-on'_ (慣用音, "customary sound") readings, which are mistaken or changed readings of the kanji that have become accepted into 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" be read according to the rules of character construction and pronunciation.

Examples (rare readings in parentheses) KANJI MEANING GO-ON KAN-ON Tō-ON KAN\'Yō-ON

明 bright _myō_ _mei_ (_min_) —

行 go _gyō_ _gō_ _kō_ _kō_ (_an_) —

極 extreme _goku_ _kyoku_ — —

珠 pearl _shu_ _shu_ _ju_ (_zu_)

度 degree _do_ (_to_) — —

輸 transport (_shu_) (_shu_) — _yu_

雄 masculine — — — _yū_

熊 bear — — — _yū_

子 child _shi_ _shi_ _su_ —

清 clear _shō_ _sei_ _(shin)_ —

京 capital _kyō_ _kei_ _(kin)_ —

兵 soldier _hyō_ _hei_ — —

強 strong _gō_ _kyō_ — —

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 _ge-doku_ (解毒, detoxification, anti-poison) (_go-on_), where 解 is usually instead read as _kai_. The _go-on_ readings are especially common in Buddhist terminology such as _gokuraku_ (極楽, paradise), 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 _isu_ (椅子, chair), _futon _ (布団, mattress), and _andon_ (行灯, a kind of paper lantern). 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 (多音字 pinyin : _duōyīnzì_) such as 行 (_háng_ or _xíng_) (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_), 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 multi-kanji compound words (熟語, _jukugo_) words, which are 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).


The _KUN\'YOMI_ (訓読み, lit. "meaning reading"), 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 , 東, has the _on'yomi_ _tō_, from Middle Chinese _tung_. However, Japanese already had two words for "east": _higashi_ and _azuma_. Thus the kanji 東 had the latter readings added as _kun'yomi_. In contrast, the kanji 寸 , 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 働 _dō,_ from 動 _dō_, and there are even some, such as 腺 _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.

承る _uketamawaru,_ 志 _kokorozashi,_ and 詔 _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. In detail, due respectively to 承る being a single character for a compound verb, one component of which has a long reading (alternative spelling as 受け賜る _u(ke)-tamawa(ru)_, hence (1+1)+3=5; compare common 受け付ける _u(ke)-tsu(keru)_, to 志 being a nominalization of the verb 志す which has a long reading _kokoroza(su)_ (due to being derived from a noun-verb compound, 心指す _kokoro-za(su)_), the nominalization removing the okurigana, hence increasing the reading by one mora, yielding 4+1=5 (compare common 話 _hanashi_ 2+1=3, from 話す _hana(su),_ and 詔 being a triple compound (alternative spelling 御言宣 _mi-koto-nori,_ hence 1+2+2=5). 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 糎 has the seven kana reading センチメートル _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 パーセント _pāsento_. Further, some Jōyō characters have long non-Jōyō readings (students learn the character, but not the reading), such as _omonpakaru_ for 慮る.

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 なおす, _naosu_, when written 治す, means "to heal an illness or sickness". When written 直す 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: 元, 基, 本, 下, and 素, 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: 杯, 盃, 巵/卮, and 坏; of these, the first two are common – formally 杯 is a small cup and 盃 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. This is discussed under single character gairaigo , below.


_ A jūbako_ (重箱), which has a mixed on-kun reading _ A yutō_ (湯桶), which has a mixed kun-on reading

There are many kanji compounds that use a mixture of _on'yomi_ and _kun'yomi_, known as _jūbako_ (重箱, multi-layered food box) or _yutō_ (湯桶, hot liquid pail) 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 _jūbako-yomi_ (重箱読み, _jūbako_ reading) and _yutō-yomi_ (湯桶読み, _yutō_ reading). Note that in both these words, the _on'yomi_ has a long vowel; long vowels in Japanese generally come from Chinese, hence distinctive of _on'yomi_. These are the Japanese form of hybrid words . Other examples include _basho_ (場所, "place", _kun-on_), _kin'iro_ (金色, "golden", _on-kun_) and _aikidō_ (合気道, the martial art Aikido ", _kun-on-on_).

_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 札幌 (which includes _sokuon _ as if it were a purely _on_ compound).


_Gikun_ (義訓) and _jukujikun_ (熟字訓) 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 _nankun_ (難訓, difficult reading), and these are listed in kanji dictionaries under the entry for the character.

_Gikun_ are when non-standard kanji are used, generally for effect, such as using 寒 with reading _fuyu_ ("winter"), rather than the standard character 冬.

_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, 今朝 ("this morning") is jukujikun, and read neither as _*ima'asa_, the _kun'yomi_ of the characters, nor _konchō_, the _on'yomi_ of the characters, nor 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, 明日 ("tomorrow") is jukujikun, and read neither as _akari(no)hi_, the _kun'yomi_ of the characters, nor _meinichi_, the _on'yomi_ of the characters, nor any combination thereof. Instead it is read as _ashita_, a native bisyllabic Japanese word that may be seen as a single morpheme .

Jukujikun are primarily used for some native Japanese words, such as Yamato (大和 or 倭, the name of a Japanese province as well as ancient name for Japan), and for some old borrowings, such as _shishamo _ (柳葉魚, willow leaf fish) from Ainu, _tabako_ (煙草, smoke grass) from Portuguese, or _bīru_ (麦酒, wheat alcohol) from Dutch. 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_ (かるた) from Portuguese "carta" (Eng: card), _tempura_ (てんぷら) from Portuguese "tempora" (Eng: time), and _pan_ (ぱん) from Spanish "pan" (Eng: bread), as well as _tabako_ (たばこ).

Sometimes, jukujikun can even have more kanji than there syllables, examples being _kera_ (啄木鳥, woodpecker) and _gumi_ (胡頽子, silver berry/oleaster).

Jukujikun are quite varied. Often the kanji compound for jukujikun is idiosyncratic and created for the word, with the corresponding Chinese word not existing; 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, (馴鹿, reindeer) 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 _ankō_ (鮟鱇, monkfish).

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 _sumō_ (相撲, sumo ) is originally from the verb _suma-u_ (争う, to vie), while _kyō_ (今日, today) 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 _kawai-i_ (可愛い, cute), originally _kawayu-i;_ the word (可愛) is used in Chinese, but the corresponding _on'yomi_ is not used in Japanese. By contrast, "appropriate" can be either _fusawa-shii_ (相応しい, in jukujikun) or _sōō_ (相応, in _on'yomi_) 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 _haya-ru_ (流行る, to spread, to be in vogue), corresponding to _on'yomi_ _ryūkō_ (流行). A sample jukujikun deverbal (noun derived from a verb form) is _yusuri_ (強請, extortion), from _yusu-ru_ (強請る, to extort), spelling from _kyōsei_ (強請, extortion). 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 _omo-shiro-i_ (面白い, interesting) face-whitening and _zuru-gashiko-i_ (狡賢い, sly).

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 _hototogisu_ (lesser cuckoo ), which may be spelt in a great many ways, including 杜鵑, 時鳥, 子規, 不如帰, 霍公鳥, 蜀魂, 沓手鳥, 杜宇, 田鵑, 沓直鳥, and 郭公 – many of these variant spellings are particular to haiku poems.


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 _pēji_ (頁、ページ, page), _botan_ (釦/鈕、ボタン, button), _zero_ (零、ゼロ, zero), and _mētoru_ (米、メートル, meter). 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 _kiromētoru_ (粁、キロメートル, kilometer, 米 "meter" + 千 "thousand").


Some kanji also have lesser-known readings called _nanori _ (名乗り), 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 小鳥遊 (literally, "little birds at play") that implies there are no predators, such as hawks, present. Pronounced, "_kotori asobu_". The name then can also mean 鷹がいない (_taka ga inai_, literally, "no hawks around") and it can be shortened to be pronounced as _Takanashi_.


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, 今日 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 豚汁 "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 牛肉 _gyu-niku_ "beef" and 羊肉 _yō-niku_ "mutton" have _on-on_ readings, but 豚肉 _buta-niku_ "pork" and 鶏肉 _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, 鉄 "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 _ge-doku_ (解毒, detoxification, anti-poison) (_go-on_), where (解) is usually instead read as _kai_.

Okurigana 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 _-suru_ (〜する, to do) at the end, and adjectives via 〜の _-no_ or 〜な _-na_, but cannot become native Japanese vocabulary, which inflect). For example: 赤い _aka-i_ "red", 新しい _atara-shii_ "new", 見る _mi-ru_ "(to) see". Okurigana can be used to indicate which _kun'yomi_ to use, as in 食べる _ta-beru_ versus 食う _ku-u_ (casual), both meaning "(to) eat", but this is not always sufficient, as in 開く, which may be read as _a-ku_ or _hira-ku,_ both meaning "(to) open". 生 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 情け _nasake_ "sympathy", 必ず _kanarazu_ "invariably", but not for 金 _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 compounds (multi-kanji words) (熟語, _jukugo_) are generally read using _on'yomi_, especially for four-character compounds (_yojijukugo _). Though again, exceptions abound, for example, 情報 _jōhō_ "information", 学校 _gakkō_ "school", and 新幹線 _shinkansen_ "bullet train" all follow this pattern. This isolated kanji versus compound distinction gives words for similar concepts completely different pronunciations. 東 "east" and 北 "north" use the _kun'yomi_ _higashi_ and _kita_, being stand-alone characters, while 北東 "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_: 生 is read as _sei_ in 先生 _sensei_ "teacher" but as _shō_ in 一生 _isshō_ "one's whole life". Meaning can also be an important indicator of reading; 易 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 手紙 _tegami_ "letter", 日傘 _higasa_ "parasol", and the famous 神風 _kamikaze _ "divine wind". Such compounds may also have okurigana, such as 空揚げ (also written 唐揚げ) _karaage_ "Chinese-style fried chicken" and 折り紙 _origami _, although many of these can also be written with the okurigana omitted (for example, 空揚 or 折紙).

Similarly, some _on'yomi_ characters can also be used as words in isolation: 愛 _ai_ "love", 禅 _ Zen _, 点 _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 金 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 上手, which can be read in three different ways: _jōzu_ (skilled), _uwate_ (upper part), or _kamite_ (stage left/house right ). In addition, 上手い has the reading _umai_ (skilled). More subtly, 明日 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, 私立 (privately established, esp. school) and 市立 (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 前文 "preamble" and 全文 "full text" are both pronounced _zen-bun,_ so 前文 may be pronounced _mae-bun_ for clarity, as in "Have you memorized the preamble 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_.

Some famous place names, including those of Japan itself (日本 _Nihon_ or sometimes _Nippon_) and that of Tokyo (東京 _Tōkyō_) are read with _on'yomi_; however, the majority of Japanese place names are read with _kun'yomi_: 大阪 _Ōsaka_, 青森 _Aomori_, 箱根 _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 (大阪) and Kobe (神戸) baseball team, the Hanshin (阪神) Tigers, take their name from the _on'yomi_ of the second kanji of _Ōsaka_ and the first of _Kōbe_. The name of the Keisei (京成) railway line – linking Tokyo (東京) and Narita (成田) – is formed similarly, although the reading of 京 from 東京 is _kei_, despite _kyō_ already being an _on'yomi_ in the word _Tōkyō_.

Japanese family names are also usually read with _kun'yomi_: 山田 _Yamada_, 田中 _Tanaka_, 鈴木 _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 大助 _Daisuke_ , 夏美 _Natsumi_ . 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 地球 _Āsu_ ("Earth") and 天使 _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 亮, 彰, 明, 顕, 章, 聴, 光, 晶, 晄, 彬, 昶, 了, 秋良, 明楽, 日日日, 亜紀良, 安喜良 and many other characters and kanji combinations not listed, Satoshi can be written as 聡, 哲, 哲史, 悟, 佐登史, 暁, 訓, 哲士, 哲司, 敏, 諭, 智, 佐登司, 總, 里史, 三十四, 了, 智詞, etc., and Haruka can be written as 遥, 春香, 晴香, 遥香, 春果, 晴夏, 春賀, 春佳, 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, 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 _Mō Takutō_ (毛沢東) in Japanese, and the name of the legendary Monkey King, Sun Wukong , is pronounced _Son Gokū _ (孫悟空) 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 has names that come from non- Chinese languages like Mongolian or Manchu . Examples of such not-well-known Chinese names include:



Harbin _Harubin_ ハルビン 哈爾浜

Ürümqi _Urumuchi_ ウルムチ 烏魯木斉

Qiqihar _Chichiharu_ チチハル 斉斉哈爾

Lhasa _Rasa_ ラサ 拉薩

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:



Hong Kong _Xianggang_ _Hēung Góng_ 香港 ホンコン _Honkon_

Macao/Macau _Ao'men_ _Ou Mùhn_ 澳門 マカオ _Makao_

Shanghai _Shanghai_ _Seuhng Hói_ 上海 シャンハイ _Shanhai_

Beijing (formerly Peking) _Beijing_ _Bāk Gīng_ 北京 ペキン _Pekin_

Nanjing (formerly Nanking) _Nanjing_ _Nàahm Gīng_ 南京 ナンキン _Nankin_

Taipei _Taibei_ _Tòih Bāk_ 台北 タイペイ _Taipei_

Tainan _Tainan_ _Tòih Nàahm_ 台南 タイナン _Tainan_

Kaohsiung _Gaoxiong_ _Gōu Hùhng_ 高雄 カオシュン / タカオ _Kaoshun_ / _Takao_


* 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). * 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.

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 人人 _hito-bito_ "people" (more often written with the iteration mark as 人々), but in rare cases the readings can be unrelated, as in _tobi-haneru_ (跳び跳ねる, "hop around", more often written 飛び跳ねる).


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 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.


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 _kōshinryō_ (香辛料, spice) via the words _kao-ri_ (香り, fragrance), _kara-i_ (辛い, spicy), and _in-ryō_ (飲料, beverage)—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 食, the reading corresponding to the basic verb _eat_ (食べる, _taberu_) may be written as た.べる (_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.


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.


See also: Gukja , Chu Nom , and Chinese family of scripts § Adaptations for other languages

In Japanese, _Kokuji_ (国字, "national characters") refers to Chinese characters made outside of China. Specifically, kanji made in Japan are referred to as _Wasei kanji_ (和製漢字). 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 _ (國字), 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 働, _dō,_ from 動, and in rare cases only have an _on_ reading, as in 腺, _sen,_ from 泉, which was derived for use in technical compounds (腺 means "gland", hence used in medical terminology).

The majority of kokuji are ideogrammatic compounds (会意字), meaning that they are composed of two (or more) characters, with the meaning associated with the combination. For example, 働 is composed of 亻 (person radical) plus 動 (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 榊 _sakaki _ tree, formed as 木 "tree" and 神 "god", literally "divine tree", and 辻 _tsuji_ "crossroads, street" formed as 辶 (⻌) "road" and 十 "cross", hence "cross-road".

In terms of meanings, these are especially for natural phenomena (esp. flora and fauna species ) that were not present in ancient China, including a very large number of fish, such as 鰯 (sardine ), 鱈 (codfish ) and 鱚 (sillago ), and trees, such as 樫 (evergreen oak ), 椙 ( Japanese cedar ), 椛 (birch , maple ) and 柾 (spindle tree ). In other cases they refer to specifically Japanese abstract concepts, everyday words (like 辻), or later technical coinages (such as 腺).

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 9 kokuji; there is some dispute over classification, but generally includes these:

* 働 どう _dō_, はたら(く) _hatara(ku)_ "work", the most commonly used kokuji, used in the fundamental verb _hatara(ku)_ (働く, "work"), included in elementary texts and on the Proficiency Test N5. * 込 こ(む) _ko(mu)_, used in the fundamental verb _komu_ (込む, "to be crowded") * 匂 にお(う) _nio(u)_, used in common verb _niou_ (匂う, "to smell, to be fragrant") * 畑 はたけ _hatake_ "field of crops" * 腺 せん _sen_, "gland" * 峠 とうげ _tōge_ "mountain pass" * 枠 わく _waku_, "frame" * 塀 へい _hei_, "wall" * 搾 しぼ(る) _shibo(ru)_, "to squeeze" (disputed; see below); a

_jinmeiyō kanji_

* 榊 さかき _sakaki_ "tree, genus _Cleyera _" * 辻 つじ _tsuji_ "crossroads, street" * 匁 もんめ _monme_ (unit of weight)


* 躾 しつけ _shitsuke_ "training, rearing (an animal, a child)"

Some of these characters (for example, 腺, "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 働), 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 – 鰯 _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 粁 (米 "meter" + 千 "thousand, kilo-") for kilometer, 竏 (立 "liter" + 千 "thousand, kilo-") for kiloliter, and 瓩 (瓦 "gram" + "thousand, kilo-") for kilogram – see Chinese characters for SI units for details. However, SI units in Japanese today are almost exclusively written using rōmaji or katakana such as キロメートル or ㌖ for km, キロリットル for kl, and キログラム or ㌕ 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 _ankō_ (鮟鱇, monkfish ). This spelling was created in Edo period Japan from the ateji (phonetic kanji spelling) 安康 for the existing word _ankō_ by adding the 魚 radical to each character – the characters were "made in Japan". However, 鮟 is not considered kokuji, as it is found in ancient Chinese texts as a corruption of 鰋 (魚匽). 鱇 is considered kokuji, as it has not been found in any earlier Chinese text. Casual listings may be more inclusive, including characters such as 鮟. Another example is 搾, which is sometimes not considered kokuji due to its earlier presence as a corruption of Chinese 榨.


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



藤 _fuji_ wisteria _téng_ rattan, cane, vine

沖 _oki_ offing, offshore _chōng_ rinse, minor river (Cantonese)

椿 _tsubaki_ _ Camellia japonica _ _chūn_ _ Toona _ spp.

鮎 _ayu_ sweetfish _nián_ catfish (rare, usually written 鯰)


Main article: Chinese character classification

Han-dynasty scholar Xu Shen in his 2nd-century dictionary _Shuowen Jiezi _ classified Chinese characters into six categories (Chinese : 六書 _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_ (象形文字)

_Shōkei_ (Mandarin: _xiàngxíng_) characters are pictographic sketches of the object they represent. For example, 目 is an eye, while 木 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_ (指事文字)

_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 上 "up" or "above" and 下 "down" or "below". These make up a tiny fraction of modern characters.

_KAII MOJI_ (会意文字)

_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 休 (rest) from 亻 (person radical) and 木 (tree). Another is the _kokuji_ 峠 (mountain pass) made from 山 (mountain), 上 (up) and 下 (down). These make up a tiny fraction of modern characters.

_KEISEI MOJI_ (形声文字)

_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_ (転注文字)

_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, 楽 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_ (仮借文字)

_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, 来 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 麦, 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.


See also: Japanese typographic symbols

The iteration mark (々) 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 _iroiro_ (色々, "various") and _tokidoki_ (時々, "sometimes"). This mark also appears in personal and place names, as in the surname Sasaki (佐々木). This symbol is a simplified version of the kanji 仝, a variant of _dō_ (同, "same").

Another abbreviated symbol is , in appearance a small katakana "ke", but actually a simplified version of the kanji 箇, a general counter. It is pronounced "ka" when used to indicate quantity (such as 六ヶ月, _rokKAgetsu_ "six months") or "ga" in place names like Kasumigaseki (霞ヶ関).

The way how these symbols may be produced on a computer depends on the operating system. In OS X, typing 「じおくり」will reveal the symbol 々 as well as ヽ、ゝ and ゞ. To produce 〻, type 「おどりじ」. Under Windows, typing「くりかえし」will reveal some of these symbols, while in Google IME, 「おどりじ」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 桜, meaning "cherry", is sorted as a ten-stroke character under the four-stroke primary radical 木 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.


An image that lists most joyo-kanji, according to Halpern\'s KLD indexing system , with kyo-iku kanji color-coded by grade level.

Japanese school children are expected to learn 1006 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 1945 kanji characters, in 2010 extended to 2136, 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. 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 Japanese government provides the _ Kanji kentei _ (日本漢字能力検定試験 _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.


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


* ^ Taylor, Insup; Taylor, Maurice Martin (1995). _Writing and literacy in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese_. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 305. ISBN 90-272-1794-7 . * ^ Suski, P.M. (2011). _The Phonetics of Japanese Language: With Reference to Japanese Script_. p. 1. ISBN 9780203841808 . * ^ _Hànzì _, simplified Chinese : 汉字; traditional Chinese : 漢字. Malatesha Joshi, R.; Aaron, P.G. (2006). _Handbook of orthography and literacy_. New Jersey: Routledge. pp. 481–2. ISBN 0-8058-4652-2 . * ^ "Gold Seal (Kin-in)". Fukuoka City Museum. Retrieved September 1, 2014. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Miyake (2003), 8. * ^ _A_ _B_ Miyake (2003), 9. * ^ Hadamitzky, Wolfgang and Spahn, Mark (2012), _ Kanji and Kana: A Complete Guide to the Japanese Writing System_, Third Edition, Rutland, VT: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 4805311169 . p. 14. * ^ JIS X 0208:1997. * ^ JIS X 0212:1990. * ^ JIS X 0213:2000. * ^ _Introducing the SING Gaiji architecture_, Adobe . * ^ _OpenType Technology Center_, Adobe . * ^ "Representation of Non-standard Characters and Glyphs", _P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange_, TEI-C . * ^ "TEI element g (character or glyph)", _P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange_, TEI-C . * ^ Kuang-Hui Chiu, Chi-Ching Hsu (2006). Chinese Dilemmas : How Many Ideographs are Needed, National Taipei University * ^ Shouhui Zhao, Dongbo Zhang, The Totality of Chinese Characters – A Digital Perspective * ^ Daniel G. Peebles, SCML: A Structural Representation for Chinese Characters, May 29, 2007 * ^ Rogers, Henry (2005). _Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach_. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0631234640 * ^ Verdonschot, R. G.; La Heij, W.; Tamaoka, K.; Kiyama, S.; You, W. P.; Schiller, N. O. (2013). "The multiple pronunciations of Japanese kanji: A masked priming investigation". _The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology_. 66 (10): 2023. PMID 23510000 . doi :10.1080/17470218.2013.773050 . * ^ "How many possible phonological forms could be represented by a randomly chosen single character?". _japanese.stackexchange.com_. Retrieved 2017-07-15. * ^ 【名字】小鳥遊 * ^ "ateji Archives - Tofugu". _Tofugu_. Retrieved 2016-02-18. * ^ "Satoshi - Jisho.org". _jisho.org_. Retrieved 2016-03-05. * ^ "Haruka - Jisho.org". _jisho.org_. Retrieved 2016-03-05. * ^ Koichi (2012-08-21). "Kokuji: "Made In Japan," Kanji Edition". _Tofugu_. Retrieved 2017-03-05. * ^ " Kokuji list", _SLJ FAQ_ . * ^ Buck, James H. (October 15, 1969) "Some Observations on kokuji" in _The Journal-Newsletter of the Association of Teachers of Japanese_, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 45–9. * ^ "A list of kokuji (国字)". _www.sljfaq.org_. Retrieved 2017-03-05. * ^ 国字 at 漢字辞典ネット demonstrates this, listing both 鮟 and 鱇 as kokuji, but starring 鮟 and stating that dictionaries do not consider it to be a kokuji. * ^ the word for wisteria being "紫藤", with the addition of "紫", "purple" * ^ Halpern, J. (2006) _The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary_. ISBN 1568364075 . p. 38a.


* DeFrancis, John (1990). _The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy_. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1068-6 . * Hadamitzky, W., and Spahn, M., (1981) _ Kanji and Kana_, Boston: Tuttle. * Hannas, William. C. (1997). _Asia's Orthographic Dilemma_. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1892-X (paperback); ISBN 0-8248-1842-3 (hardcover). * Kaiser, Stephen (1991). Introduction to the Japanese Writing System. In _Kodansha's Compact Kanji Guide_. Tokyo: Kondansha International. ISBN 4-7700-1553-4 . * Miyake, Marc Hideo (2003). _Old Japanese: A Phonetic Reconstruction_. New York, London: RoutledgeCurzon. * Morohashi, Tetsuji. 大漢和辞典 _ 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. ISBN 4-7700-2068-6 . * Unger, J. Marshall (1996). _Literacy and Script Reform in Occupation Japan: Reading Between the Lines_. ISBN 0-19-510166-9


_ The Wikibook Japanese_ has a page on the topic of: _KANJI _

_ Look up KANJI _ in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

_ Wikimedia Commons has media related to KANJI _.

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