The jōyō kanji (常用漢字, literally "regular-use Chinese characters") is the guide to kanji characters announced officially by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Current jōyō kanji are those on a list of 2,136 characters issued in 2010. It is a slightly modified version of the tōyō kanji, which was the initial list of secondary school-level kanji standardized after World War II.
The 2,136 kanji in the jōyō kanji consist of:
- 1,006 kanji taught in primary school (the kyōiku kanji)
- 1,130 additional kanji taught in secondary school
Foreign learners of Japanese also often focus their kanji studies on the jōyō kanji list.
Changes from the tōyō kanji 
The 95 additional characters are as follows:
- 猿 凹 渦 靴 稼 拐 涯 垣 殻 潟 喝 褐 缶 頑 挟 矯 襟 隅 渓 蛍 嫌 洪 溝 昆 崎 皿 桟 傘 肢 遮 蛇 酌 汁 塾 尚 宵 縄 壌 唇 甚 据 杉 斉 逝 仙 栓 挿 曹 槽 藻 駄 濯 棚 挑 眺 釣 塚 漬 亭 偵 泥 搭 棟 洞 凸 屯 把 覇 漠 肌 鉢 披 扉 猫 頻 瓶 雰 塀 泡 俸 褒 朴 僕 堀 磨 抹 岬 妄 厄 癒 悠 羅 竜 戻 枠
- 1923: Ministry of Education specified 1,962 kanji and 154 simplified characters.
- 1931: The former jōyō kanji was revised and 1,858 characters were specified.
- 1942: 1,134 characters as standard jōyō kanji and 1,320 characters as sub-jōyō kanji were specified.
- 1946: The 1,850 characters of tōyō kanji were adopted by law "as those most essential for common use and everyday communication". This list included 881 'basic requirement' kanji for elementary school.
- 1981: The 1,945 characters of jōyō kanji were adopted, replacing the list of tōyō kanji.
- 2010: The list was revised on 30 November to include an additional 196 characters and remove 5 characters (勺, 銑, 脹, 錘, and 匁), for a total of 2,136. The 196 additional characters are:
- 媛 怨 鬱 唄 淫 咽 茨 彙 椅 萎 畏 嵐 宛 顎 曖 挨 韓 鎌 葛 骸 蓋 崖 諧 潰 瓦 牙 苛 俺 臆 岡 旺 艶 稽 憬 詣 熊 窟 串 惧 錦 僅 巾 嗅 臼 畿 亀 伎 玩 挫 沙 痕 頃 駒 傲 乞 喉 梗 虎 股 舷 鍵 拳 桁 隙 呪 腫 嫉 𠮟(叱) 鹿 餌 摯 恣 斬 拶 刹 柵 埼 塞 采 戚 脊 醒 凄 裾 須 腎 芯 尻 拭 憧 蹴 羞 袖 汰 遜 捉 踪 痩 曽 爽 遡 狙 膳 箋 詮 腺 煎 羨 鶴 爪 椎 捗 嘲 貼 酎 緻 綻 旦 誰 戴 堆 唾 鍋 謎 梨 奈 那 丼 貪 頓 栃 瞳 藤 賭 妬 塡(填) 溺 諦 阜 訃 肘 膝 眉 斑 阪 汎 氾 箸 剝(剥) 罵 捻 虹 匂 喩 闇 弥 冶 麺 冥 蜜 枕 昧 勃 頰(頬) 貌 蜂 蔑 璧 餅 蔽 脇 麓 籠 弄 呂 瑠 瞭 侶 慄 璃 藍 辣 拉 沃 瘍 妖 湧 柿 哺 楷 睦 釜 錮 賂 毀 勾
- Characters in bold are used in the names of prefectures. Characters followed by an alternate in (parentheses) indicate a difference between the official version of the character and the version used in JIS X 0208 (the JIS version is in parentheses).
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will instruct teachers to start teaching the new characters in fiscal 2012 so that junior high school students will be able to read them and high school students will be able to write them. High schools and universities will start using the characters in their entrance exams from the 2015 academic year.
See also 
- List of jōyō kanji
- Kyōiku kanji (List of kanji by school year)
- Jinmeiyō kanji
- Learning kanji
- Japanese script reform
- A Guide to Reading & Writing Japanese, Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1961 Edition
- "In 1981 the joyo kanji list superseded the old toyo kanji list — the list of Chinese characters which was announced in November 1946 and designated for daily use." -Japan Times editorial, "Revising the list of kanji", Nov. 16, 2008, retrieved 27 May 2009.
- Akihiko Shiraishi, 「柿」など９字追加、「鷹」は選外 新常用漢字の修正案 ("New draft table adds 196 everyday-use kanji") in Asahi Shimbun, 23 October 2009, retrieved 25 October 2009.
- Japan Times, Get set for next year's overhaul of official kanji, 21 October 2009, retrieved 27 February 2010.