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Kanji = Chinese characters = Hanzi[edit]

I've noticed a tendency in the introduction to somehow "distance" kanji from hanzi. In fact, kanji are not 'derived' or 'copied from' Chinese characters. They are, when all is said and done, Chinese characters, full stop. Kanji are a restricted set of Chinese characters, with some simplifications not found in China, but they are indisputably a part of the larger family of Chinese characters.

This is not necessarily apparent to the beginning student of Japanese. But anyone who has gained a deeper acquaintance with the language will be familiar with Kanwa Jiten, a strange beast that is not a "Japanese dictionary" as such, but a dictionary of Chinese characters, interpreted in Japanese. A Kanwa Jiten notes the meanings of characters in Classical Chinese, notes the Japanese on and kun readings, notes the ways in which Japanese usage diverges from Chinese usage, and even notes locally coined characters. But it emphatically is not a dictionary of the Japanese language as such. Only after gaining an acquaintance with these very strange dictionaries can one judge the positioning of Chinese characters within the Japanese language. Noone familiar with Kanwa Jiten would make the mistake of describing Kanji as "derived from" Chinese characters. This would be like confining oneself to a description of the foliage and manner of growth of a carrot with only a passing reference to the root structure. That is why I have modified the introduction to equate kanji to Chinese characters. The result is much cleaner and easier to understand than the earlier version. Bathrobe 16:28, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

It's so typical japanese. It's a interessting "effect" of japanese nationalism. They want the distance. They can't and don't want to accept their own history. This is the traditional japanese style: Let us forget about the past.
There more example about those behaivor. For example Mengzi is a chinese philosopher but the presented him with the name "Moshi" and never said that he is a chinese because "moshi" sounds more japanese than chinese.
It's the "rest" of the japanese imperialsm.
—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)
The above unsigned personal opinion is hard to substantiate. First, the Japanese themselves, by using Kanwa Jiten, recognise that their characters are related to the larger Chinese tradition. How can you say that they "want the distance"?
Moreover, the tendency to distance kanji from hanzi seems more likely to be committed by foreign students of Japanese, who are not familiar with the larger picture and see Japanese kanji as a separate system on its own. Or by resentful Chinese speakers who don't like English speakers using the word "kanji" to refer to Chinese characters as used in China, which appears to derive from the (Chinese nationalist) view that Chinese words, not Japanese words, should be used to refer to Chinese things. You will actually find that there are ethnic Chinese members of Wikipedia (I won't mention any names) who go around changing the word 'kanji' to 'hanzi' because of this belief.
Finally, this previous version of the opening paragraph gives the appearance of having been written by an ethnic Chinese with an axe to grind (although it's hard to tell because the main change was made by someone who didn't sign their edit): "The Kanji is a Japanese logographic writing system which is directly copied from Chinese characters (Hanzi) except that the pronunciation is changed to various extents."
The fact is, accusations of nationalism cut both ways. It's unfortunate that Wikipedia in its coverage of East Asia has been weakened by the application of nationalism in editing articles -- i.e., attempts to make articles accord with certain nationalistic ideologies, in the passionate belief that these ideologies are "the facts".
Bathrobe 07:54, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. Bathrobe, you're saying "Kanji = Chinese characters = Hanzi", but then you object to (and remove) the statement that "While some kanji and Chinese hanzi are mutually readable, many more are not", saying it's "incorrect information". If anything, the removed statement is a bit weaselly, but I wouldn't say it's "incorrect". Both Chinese and Japanese readers will understand many characters as having the same basic meaning. - dcljr (talk) 22:41, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Ummm... I'm Japanese but "moshi" NEVER sounds a Japanese name to me at all.-- 16:02, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Oh my god! In English, we call him Mencius! We English speakers are trying to hide the fact that he was Chinese too! Give me a break. adamrice 16:39, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
Actually, I cut that part out partly because it was wordy, hard to understand, and not particularly relevant to the section it introduced (kokuji). In other words, it was plain confusing.
The part that was incorrect was the statement "While some kanji and Chinese hanzi are mutually readable, many more are not." I find it hard to support the statement that there are more mutually unreadable kanji/hanzi than there are readable ones and I can't understand on what basis the statement was made.
In fact, the meaning of the statement isn't even clear. Which kanji and which hanzi are we talking about? Simplified? Traditional? Shinjitai? Kyujitai? And who is the person who "can't read" them? The product of the Japanese school system who knows the joyo kanji? The graduate of a Taiwanese high school? The Westerner who's done a couple of years' Japanese at a foreign university? A Japanese professor of Japanese literature?
That's why I cut it out, not because of the use of hanzi and kanji.
User:Bathrobe 3 April 2006

Hanzi meaning "Han Characters"[edit]

On the first sentence of the history of Kanji, it says that the Han in Hanzi refers to the Han Dynasty, but when I had recently looked it up by radicals, the result said it means anything Chinese. Unless I'm prooven wrong, I put up a citation needed template. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Samusfan80 (talkcontribs)

I think you are right. The "Han" in "Hanzi" should mean the dominant ethnic group of China, although the origin of this meaning may be somehow related to the Han dynasty. (See Han Chinese). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Took (talkcontribs)

Han can be used to describe the Chinese people or the nation (or more loosely the Chinese national consciousness). "Han" is also synonymous in its use with the word "Tang". These are two words that most Chinese identify with on an ethnic/personal level (e.g. Chinatown is "tangrenjie" - the Tang People's Street, and hanjian - a traitor who is Chinese).

Ultimately, the "Han" refers to the Han River, and more proximately, the Han people, as mentioned above. adamrice 00:15, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
Kanji does *sound* like hanzi(汉字)but China Language in Chinese can be said to be hanyu (汉语). So it does litterally mean "of China".
Quote from Hanzi "A complete writing system in Chinese characters appeared in China 3200 years ago during the Shang dynasty."
In the section of Simplifacation of the same article, it saids "The traditional character 來 lái (come) was written with the structure 来 in the clerical script (隸書 lìshū) of the Han dynasty. This clerical form uses two fewer strokes, and was thus adopted as a simplified form. The character 雲 yún (cloud) was written with the structure 云 in the oracle bone script of the Shāng dynasty, and had remained in use later as a phonetic loan in the meaning of to say. The simplified form reverted to this original structure."
Shouldn't it be Shangzi because the charaters were originally created in the Shang Dynasty?` 00:56, 11 February 2007 (UTC)


With the Han conquest, "Han" came to mean "Chinese" and Han Jen" (Han People). Kanji may derive from mispronounciation of "Han Jen", as in japanese language, "H" is turned to "K". Let's take "Kami" (God) et "Haze" (wind) and the "Kami Haze" (divine wind) turned to "Kamikaze".

Takima (talk) 23:24, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Takima, I don't know how where you get your analysis of Kamikaze as being derived from kamihaze. 'Haze' does not mean wind in Japanese. It's a kind of tree or a kind of fish. Wind is 'kaze', pure and simple.
Kanji is quite clearly the pronunciation of 漢字. It's not a pronunciation of Han Jen. I think you need to learn a bit more about the evolution of character readings in Japanese before making such uninformed and unsubstantiated claims.
Bathrobe (talk) 00:49, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

kun yomi[edit]

In the kun'yomi section the kanji for east "東" is used as an example of taking a character with similar meaning to an already existing Japanese word and add this word to the characters reading. This implies that "東" is a Chinese character meaning east. According to "A guide to remembering Japanese Characters" by Kenneth G. Henshall (Not to be confused with Heisig) which is a etymological kanji dictionary of very high quality the classical story of east being the sun rising behind a tree is refuted and apparently the character originates from a pictogram of a tied sack. It is unclear whether it was a mistaken interpretation that lead to the adoption of 東 as east. (talk) 16:17, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

See . Oda Mari (talk) 17:16, 11 March 2008 (UTC)


"Before, in general, loanwords had been written using kanji, either used for their meaning (煙草 or 莨 tabako = "tobacco") or to spell the word phonetically(天婦羅 or 天麩羅 tempura)." Can anyone provide a citation for this? I don't dispute that 外来語 are/were written in 当て字, but I don't believe they were only written in 当て字. And the "煙草" example is a bad one: that is plain-old 当て字, but with a lucky combination of characters. And it's still in use today; the word is so ingrained in Japan that it's also sometimes written たばこ. adamrice 23:16, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

I have done some research and satisfied myself that this is inaccurate. It is true, of course, that plenty of loanwords were and still are written in kanji--especially those for everyday items--but this does not seem to have been any kind of rule. I have deleted the passage in question. adamrice 14:12, 30 July 2006 (UTC)


I am pretty sure that Chinese characters or Kanji/Hanzi came to Japan in Qin Dynasty, not Han Dynasty(few centuries before) The Qin shi huang was in search for the medicine of eternity(Elixir of life). There was a man called "Xu Fu" that claimed he can get those medicine from far eastern islands (probably Refering to Japan). He asked Qin shihuang for 60 ships and about 500 crew (includes women), and Qin shihuang believed him and agreed to his demands. He then set the long journey to Japan and never returned. Xu Fu have also brought many kind of fruit/vegetable seeds, taught Japanese to produce Silk Chinese literacy and many other benefits to Japanese. He also have a tomb, and many memorials across Japan, and many people are still worshipping him today. check Xu Fu article for some more detail (talk) 16:56, 27 February 2009 (UTC) edit: (talk) 17:07, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

I removed the following sentence.

There is some disagreement about how Chinese characters came to Japan, but it is generally accepted that Buddhist monks from the kingdom of Baekje in Korea brought Chinese texts to the country during the 5th century.

This was originally added by Exploding Boy [1] and was modified by Markirwin [2]. I don't know where they got this piece of information but I'm quite sure this is wrong.

"Literacy" has been a major topic of ancient Japanese history for decades and countless papers discuss this issue. Among them, I referred to the following:

  • Ōhashi Shin'ya 大橋信弥: Ō Jinni no torai 王辰爾の渡来, Moji ni yoru Kōryū 文字による交流, pp. 214-231, March 2005.
  • Hirano Takuji 平野卓治: Kin'in no shiju 金印の賜授, Moji ni yoru Kōryū 文字による交流, pp. 176-193, March 2005.
  • Kōchi Haruhito 河内春人: Waō Bu no jōhyōbun to moji hyōki 倭王武の上表文と文字表記 (The literacy of diplomatic correspondence by King BU in 5'th century ancient Japan), Kokushigaku 国史学, Number 181, pp. 33-63, November 2003.

--Nanshu 22:11, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Every source I have read on the introduction of written Chinese to Japan has confirmed that it was brought by way of the first Korean emissaries to Japan in the 5th century (the Koreans also introduced Japan to Budhism - which brought with it interest in Chinese culture as well).

  • "Kanji, one of the three scripts used in the Japanese language, are Chinese characters, which were first introduced to Japan in the 5th century via Korea."
  • A Short History of Japan, Malcolm Kennedy, Mentor Books, 1964: "(. . .) there arrived in Japan a party of Korean scholars, sent by the King of Paikche (백재, modern romanization Baekje) as a thank-offering for the assistance given by the Japanese against his enemy(. . .) With their arrival, Chinese learning and writing were officially established in the Japanese Empire."

Therefore, I believe that this users edits were generally correct, and I am going to incorporate the fact that Korea officially introduced it to the Japanese leadership.
--DinkY2K 07:21, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately, those sources are for laymen and don't answer our questions because we cannot check which sources their claims are based on. Would you cite secondary sources that directly refer to primary sources?

One obvious error in Exploding Boy's explanation is that Buddhist monks brought Chinese texts during the 5th century. Actually, the introduction of Buddhism to Japan was of the 6th century (538 or 552), not the 5th century.

In addition, it's pretty easy to find evidences against your sources. According to the Book of Wei of Sanguozhi, the queen of Wa sent a letter to Wei in 240 in responce to an imperial edict (三國志 魏書 卷三十 東夷 倭: 倭王因使上表答謝恩詔). This means that Wa (Yamatai) had some people who had full command of Classical Chinese (most likely Chinese literati).

It should be noted that these diplomatic activities were done with help from Chinese. For example, King San of Wa sent Cao Da (曹達), who bore the title of sima (司馬 military commander), to the Song in 425. The Eda-Funayama tumulus sword inscription of the late 5th century contains the author's name: Zhang An (張安). The situation was the same in the states of the Korean Peninsula. Historical sources show us that diplomacy was led by those with one-character Chinese surnames long before the natives of the Korean Peninsula got sinicied names. See:

  • Tanaka Fumio 田中史生: Bu no jōhyōbun 武の上表文, Moji ni yoru Kōryū 文字による交流, pp. 194-213, March 2005.

So I partially reverted DinkY2K's edits. The following is most puzzling:

Chinese writing, along with Budhism, were officially introduced to Japan by an emissary of Korean scholars sent to Emperor Ingyo from the Baekje Kingdom in 405 AD.

I don't see which event DinkY2K refers to. In the first place, I've never heard of a dating of Emperor Ingyo's reign that includes that year. --Nanshu 10:40, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

I never denied that knowlege of Chinese, much less native Chinese speakers, existed in Japan up to the point where Korean diplomats sparked the official interest of the Japanese leadership. Also, I admit the dates could be wrong; my source was a book from the 60s, and the conversion of dates from old Japanese records to the Gregorian Calander has changed, along with the accepted views of most historians.
I find it hard to produce primary sources concerning the history of written Japanese, since this was the essential beginning of history for our purposes. Also, do you consider the beginning of Kanji, the Japanese use of Chinese characters, to be just when the Chinese show up with a scroll, or when the Japanese begin to use it for themselves; for the Japanese language. Your source only shows evidence of Chinese, not Japanese use of these characters. To me, knowlege-of does not constitute the use-of.
I do wonder, however, why you continue to delete edits referencing the large part that Korea played in cultural exchanges with Japan, especially concerning the introduction of Kanji outside of small elite/immigrant circles. Also, if you have information like you posted above concerning the history of Kanji, please add it to the article. I'll do some more research before I add anything else at this point, though.
--DinkY2K 11:05, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Korean diplomats sparked the official interest of the Japanese leadership? Korea played in cultural exchanges with Japan, especially concerning the introduction of Kanji outside of small elite/immigrant circles? Your claim is unsubstantial. We cannot verify it because no source is given. In the first place, we cannot identify which event you refers to. Who were "Korean diplomats"?

And again, it's easy to find evidences against your claim. Samguk Sagi states at the end of King Geunchogo (r. 346-375)'s chapter, "Baekje has never recorded facts with writing system but now that she gets Gao Xing, she starts to document facts."

古記云 百濟開國已來 未有以文字記事 至是得博士高興 始有書記 然高興未嘗顯於他書 不知其何許人也

It's not clear whether this piece of information is correct since Gao Xing never appears in other records as Samguk Sagi notes. But we have circumstance evidence for him:

  1. Judging from archaeological findings, Gao was a prominent surname in the former Lelang commandery on the Korean Peninsula.
  2. In 371, the king successfully attacked Pyongyang, Lelang's former capital. Gao Xing probably came to Baekje as a result of the campaign.

Thus it is unlikely that Baekje's ruling class had already adopted Chinese characters as their own before Chinese documents came to be produced in Japan. Rather, it is presumable that Chinese refugees that resulted from conflicts of Wu Hu and their descendants were organized under kingship in new eastern countries. See [Tanaka:2005].

In early phase of written Japanese, we can hardly make distinction with written Japanese and Chinese. The first step of Japanization would be to describe Japanese things in Chinese, which entailed phonetic transcription of Japanese terms, especially proper nouns. But written Japanese could not be without kun (not just on reading). People started to understand Chinese text by translate it into Japaese and then word selection came to be fixed... Well, the problem is too much for me. I support Okimori's theory and think that the prototype of written Japanese appeared in the early 7th century. See:

Okimori Takuya 沖盛卓也: Nihon kodai no hyōki to buntai 日本古代の表記と文体, 2000.

This is an interdisciplinary and as far as I know, it involves history, Japanese linguistics and comparative linguistics. I find it quite difficult to integrate the achievements of these areas because they often contradict each other. Historians are not familiar with linguistics and some comparative linguists are awfully ignorant about history. --Nanshu 12:33, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

2000 Japanese Kanji List[edit]

I noticed this list skimming the article, and I'm going to *attempt* to wikify it and add to it. Help is welcome and much appreciated, I think this sort of thing is important for people taking interest in the Japanese language, Chinese writing, or whatever. -DinkY2K 23:53, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm confused. Are the on and kun readings of the kanji being sorted out somehow, and only one being put in the table? Dekimasu 09:25, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
I've only included the kun readings thus far (to my knowlege, at least), because I don't know the onyomi --DinkY2K 10:06, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
You're not being consistent about on/kun at all--you've got some of each (ゲン for 言, ジン for 人 are both onyomi--if you ever see a reading ending in ん, it's onyomi). Also, it's conventional to use katakana for onyomi, hiragana for kunyomi (IIRC, Nelson's does this in romaji with ALL CAPS for onyomi, italics for kunyomi) , so as you go along, I'd suggest doing that. adamrice 23:02, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Is it proposed that we actually list 2000 jouyou kanji in the article with their on and kun readings? Why 2000? If this is the intention, is it encyclopaedic? I would imagine it would be better to list them in a separate article perhaps. The heading of this section in the article is quite confusing. =/ --Lor 09:52, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Would it be more appropriate to include a link to the Jōyō kanji article; possibly improving its layout/accessibility to Japanese language learners either by modifying that article or by creating a new article (e.g. organized by category or grade level, and/or in a table form with more information about each one, like readings, as opposed to just one definition). A single page summarizing this type of information (currently available one-by-one from wiktionary) for common Kanji would make a handy reference. Speight 21:59, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

I just found Kyōiku kanji, which is already laid out more or less in the way I suggested above (by grade level, with on and kun readings.) I'd recommend linking to Jōyō kanji, Kyōiku kanji, and Jinmeiyō kanji, explaining the type/layout of information available in each, instead of duplicating some of this content in this section. Speight 22:15, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

I think linking in to a separate article devoted to a kanji list is a good idea, especially considering those lists are in better shape than this one. adamrice 14:17, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Unless somebody objects, I am going to remove this section from the main article, since we already have the joyo kanji page linked from this one. adamrice 13:50, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Gone. What a weird section it was. It doesn't seem encyclopaedic to have a list of 2000 kanji (or a list that claims to or intends to contain 2000 kanji). It was of no use to anybody unfamiliar with Japanese (doubly so because the readings were given in kana).--holizz 23:15, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Split on'yomi and kun'yomi[edit]

I believe that on'yomi and kun'yomi should be split into their own sections. I have two reasons to believe this:

  1. It's quite feasible that people would want to link to those terms from other pages, and it's quite confusing to have that redirected to a page called "kanji"
  2. They have enough content to warrant their own articles

I think we could have a summary here and have the standard main article link to a separate article.

Kcumming 19:21, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Disagree. 1. Neither of those sections is so long that they need to stand on their own; 2. There's considerable overlap between them (you can't discuss one without discussing the other, as in "when to use which reading"), which would either require readers to flip back and forth between the kun/on'yomi article and the kanji article, or require editors to duplicate information in both, which would inevitably result in forking. The potential need to link directly to a term isn't limited to kun'yomi and on'yomi -- you could say the same of gaiji or any other specialized term on the page. adamrice 15:36, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Okay, since no-one appears to have a different opinion about this anymore, i disagree too, I will remove the tag in the article saying it might be split into seperate articles. I mean what does it look like if you open an encyclopeadia and its got a sign smack-bang in the middle talking about splitting up the entry!? If you disagree, tell me! vilem 22:09, 15 February 2007 (UTC)


Images, please.--//Mac Lover TalkC 03:46, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

This is a GREAT article![edit]

I've been pretty down on Wikipedia lately, having seen so much self-serving, unsubstantiated, non-NPOV junk in articles in my recent reading. This piece really restores my faith in Wikipedia! Especially since this is--funny as it might seem to an uninitiated reader--a pretty controversial subject! As the discussion page shows, there is ancient cultural hostility to spare out in these parts (I'm an American living in Tokyo), and it does my heart AND my brain good to see that we can still present a factual, informative, detailed analysis of this fascinating and complex subject!

Thanks very much to the people who put this together! Great work! --Douglas Williams 09:22, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

== Made-in-Japan characters with on'yomi =={| class="wikitable" |- ! header 1g ! header 2g ! header 3g |- | row 1, cell 1g | row 1, cell 2g | row 1, cell 3g |- | row 2, cell 1 | row 2, cell 2 | row 2, cell 3 g |}

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.

OK, I have a question. If the character was made in Japan, why would any of its readings be considered on'yomi? I'm not questioning that they are classified on'yomi (which I am aware is the case), but why. - furrykef (Talk at me) 00:53, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Because those characters are created as pictophonetic compounds (形声) (see Chinese character classification#Phono-semantic compound characters (形聲) and those pronunciations are based on the phonetic parts and not based on yamatokotoba associated with the characters, I guess. --Kusunose 04:07, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Use of Japanese forms in article[edit]

On April 25, 2007, User:, User:, and User:Hknewone replaced many instances of Japanese variants of characters in the article with traditional ones (e.g., 会 > 會, 仮 > 假). I have reverted these changes on the basis that this page is about Japanese kanji and their use in the Japanese language, whose contemporary usage includes many non-traditional forms (as discussed in the article). Please discuss these changes here before reverting if there are different opinions. mitcho/芳貴 18:11, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

I apologize I accidentally marked this large revert as minor. mitcho/芳貴 18:17, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

History opening line[edit]

The first sentence of the History section says, "Chinese characters came to Japan from China with Kanji articles on which they are written." ...Huh? Is this supposed to mean that Chinese characters were written on certain objects that were then brought to Japan? This needs to be reworded by someone who understands the intended meaning. - dcljr (talk) 18:26, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, literally. Chinese characters where on things that were brought to Japan through trade, usually by way of Korea, from my understanding. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 13:24, August 23, 2007 (UTC)

Redundancy noted

Is there a need to say "Kanji characters." This is similar errors compared to ATM machine or IBSN number. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:01, August 27, 2007 (UTC)

Kanji or ji?[edit]

I recently read somewhere that "Kanji" is the Japanese name for the characters, the original Chinese name is "Ji" or "Chi" or something like that. The name simply means "word." Parmadil (talk) 05:08, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

If you read the article, it says: "The Japanese term kanji (漢字) literally means "Han characters"." This answers your question. 漢 means 'Han' or 'Chinese'. 字 means 'characters', although 'letters' or 'graphs' might be just as good.
Bathrobe (talk) 08:39, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Feel free to hack at[edit]

the section I've added when merging from Learning kanji. That article was unnecessary and poorly constructed; even if it is reduced further here, that's a better solution than breaking it back out again. Thanks! Dekimasuよ! 05:52, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

this is the English Wikipedia[edit]

Why are we transliterating Japanese for the title of the article? The only reason I can see to do this is to try to impress non-Japanese speakers with ones knowledge of Japanese. If this is the English Wikipedia, we should call them Japanese ideographs, not kanji. The only time we should transliterate Japanese is if you have a good reason. For instance, sushi sounds a lot better than 'raw fish'.--Mak Allen (talk) 07:04, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

We call them kanji because that is the most common name in English publications, and the one our readers are most likely to search for. Bikasuishin (talk) 18:33, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
That is easily solved by a redirect. If most people are calling it the wrong thing, that is no reason to follow suit. One Wiki goal is to correct the mistaken practices.--Mak Allen (talk) 03:43, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Bikasuishin, Kanji is the most common name for the Japanese characters of Chinese origin, most textbooks use this term as well. The term Hanzi in Chinese is becoming popular but is still far behind Chinese character term when talking about Chinese.--Atitarev (talk) 06:11, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
You are missing my point. I know what most people call it. Most people are wrong most of the time about most things. That is why there are leaders. If most people thought the world was flat, you think we should refer to the world as flat?--Mak Allen (talk) 10:25, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, you need to change something if it's wrong. Kanji is not wrong, it's a borrowed word, which is adopted in English. Talking about the Japanese writing system, Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana are always called using Japanese words, which sounds good and makes English only richer. Purist movements don't seem to be popular with English-speakers. Sorry, leaving the discussion to other users. --Atitarev (talk) 11:19, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
It is wrong. People use it because they want to impress others who have less knowledge of Japanese. Katakana and Hiragana have no English translation so that is appropriate. Kanji is just dumbing down the phrase 'ideograph'.--Mak Allen (talk) 06:27, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, Japanese Ideographs would suck, since Kanji are, in critical senses, neither of those two things. As Morpho-syllabemes of Chinese origin as used in writing Japanese is a mite unwieldy, I believe you have your "good reason". Yourong (talk) 09:35, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
First, you are attributing negative motives to the authors with no justification. Give people the benefit of the doubt. At worst, under your rationale, the authors may have assumed that more people are familiar with the term kanji than you believe are familiar with the term.
Second, sure, people often use the term "Japanese characters" to refer to kanji, but that is not a good term, because it could refer to kana as well as kanji. In more academic literature, kanji are often referred to as "Sino-Japanese characters," which is less ambiguous but probably not great for a title, since it's probably not something people would be looking for in a search. I also agree that ideographs is probably considered not technically correct now, but is commonly used by the public anyway.
For these reasons, I would suggest maybe titling it "Kanji (Sino-Japanese Characters)" or something like that... Or you could flip the parentheses. Feichangdao (talk) 03:23, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
Excuse me, Feichangdao, you seem to not sure yourself about the term. Are you sure you can convince others about the most common word for kanji? Just stating the obvious, no offence. --Atitarev (talk) 05:27, 4 July 2008 (UTC)
There is no perfect translation into English -- that is why I discuss some alternatives. But since the only technically accurate term is Kanji, it should definitely be in the title somewhere. Feichangdao (talk) 23:49, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
I always called it by the word Kanji,but when I had no knowledge about the language yet,i called it Japanese characters,

just like if you show a guy a chinese character and he might say its a chinese character even though it called Hanzi.So i think we should maybe redirect "kanji" to "Japanese Characters" like Wikipedia did redirecting "Hanzi" to "Chinese Characters" page. Or if non-japanese speakers don't know its called Kanji,then redirect "Japanese Characters" to this. You need to consider the fact that people somtimes refer to Wikipedia when they dont know something.For instance people that don't know about the muslim religion might search "Muslim bible" instead of "Qur'an". and people might search "Japanese Characters" instead of "Kanji","Japanese Ideographs",or "Sino-Japanese Characters".Also,most people dont know "ideograph".....i dont know "ideograph".....i had to look it up in wiktionary o_O.......make sure people learn somthing......cause i learned somthing right now-the word Ideograph.....-Gangstabrutha (talk) 07:26, 7 July 2008 (UTC)


東 'east' is a pictograph of a bag on a stick, but it was used to mean 'east' very early in the history of the Chinese written language; not one example of it meaning 'bag on a stick' has survived.

I am only a student of Japanese, but 束(たば)"bundle" and 束ねる(たばねる)"to bundle" seem to me to be just such examples. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:10, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

Those are two completely different characters. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:46, 2 August 2010 (UTC)


Some needs to go through this and edit it all. It's written very poorly, like something I would see from my sophomore classmates. :S Whoever's up to the task have at it. --Taylert123 (talk) 03:03, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

How long does it take?[edit]

There are about 2,000 kanji characters that are most commonly used in Japan, not to mention that there is hiragana and katakana to learn. Would it take years for someone illiterate in Japanese writing to learn it fluently? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:51, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes. --Atitarev (talk) 03:53, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

I guess I'm up for the challenge then... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:00, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Unlike phonetical languages, with pictographical languages, learning the characters is comparable (almost) to learning the language itself - learn new words, learn new characters at the same time. Characters without the pronunciation, meaning and some knowledge of their usage are just symbols. To get a good feeling, it's better to start with textbooks that have both kanji and hiragana or romaji. --Atitarev (talk) 04:34, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

What about katakana? By the way, how do you sign your comments? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:34, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

  • 4 tildes (~) for signing but if you're not registered, it will only display your IP address.
  • What about it? Katakana and Hiragana take much less to master than Kanji. Check Japanese writing system to get more info or join a language forum, get a textbook. The Wikipedia talk pages are for discussing the articles, you won't get all or complete answers to your questions. (Just trying to point you in the right direction). --Atitarev (talk) 02:01, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

How do they learn Kanji in Japan? How many do they learn a week? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:35, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

They cram it for years, basically. It takes a lot of time. I heard that was the reason kanji wasn't used in Japanese commercial design much (as a design element); i.e. there wouldn't be a production of a purse decorated with the character for love, since adolescent Japanese felt kanji carried connotations of forced cramming, while English words such as "love" and "happy" felt cute and exotic. 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 08:09, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

Standard Reference[edit]

The References section contained the following: "The standard reference for the Japanese orthographic system—which, in its full, mixed form is referred to as kanji kana-majiri—is Hadamitzky, W., and Spahn, S...". Now I know both Wolfgang and Mark, and their old Kanji & Kana book is a nice one, but there is no way that it's "the standard reference". For a start it only covers the 常用漢字, and even for them the coverage is light. A useful book for students, but nothing more. I removed that introduction, and added a mention of Morohashi, which is the real "standard reference".JimBreen (talk) 11:34, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Parent systems[edit]

Please see Talk:Japanese_writing_system#Parent_systems for edits to the development tree. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:02, 19 January 2009 (UTC)


Could it be made more clear how, exactly, the Japanese ended up using Chinese characters as part of their language? I notice they tend to use them a lot in quite a few situations, and although pronounced differently, they carry the same meanings. All this article says is that they were inspired by the emperor and government, and then incorporated those characters but changed the pronounciations? Unless no one knows more about this... Please try and add more information. Thanks in advance. Dasani 02:14, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Please link if you double post :) Talk:Japanese writing system/Archives/2012#Chinese.2FJapanese.3F Moooitic (talk) 02:58, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Meaning of 慣用[edit]

We have been trying to make minor edits to keep the wordings exact.

For me "idiomatic" have the impression of "the whole thing has some indirect meaning", therefore does not seem to fit to the whole topic of "慣用音". I think it literally should be something "habitual" or "according to customs". As seen in , "慣用" itself does not seem to be a common word usage; and I suspect that the user who added "idiomatic" was thinking in term of a back-formation from the word "慣用句".

But then, my meaning is also listed in and just for reference, the Chinese side shows:

I think this "慣用音" is very similar in nature to "俗音"/"俗讀" in Cantonese.

Maybe my translation "habitual pronunciation" is a bit literal, but translating "Go-on" to be "Wu sound" etc. above it, are all also "to be literally taken". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:02, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

--- Idiom: "a group of words in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word understood on its own" - Do you think that fits "慣用音" at all? "俗音/俗讀" itself is just some type of "irregular pronunciation", and does not carry "implied meaning different from the regular pronunciation". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:49, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

update about Jōyō kanji 常用漢字[edit]

The current version of the article titled 'Kanji'( states that "The Japanese National Kanji Conference will add new characters to the list, to be enforced by 2010".

In fact the Ministry of Education of Japan introduced the new list of characters for everyday uasage (Jōyō kanji 常用漢字) in autumn 0f 2010. Five characers were removed and 196 added.

Probably this fact deserves to be reflected in the article —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:29, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

The article has now been updated to reflect these changes. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:50, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

Guideline quibble[edit]

The article says this:

"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, ..."

Are there really no exceptions to this? What about the verb 通じる, for example? (talk) 02:49, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

For the record, per advice on Ref Desk, じる is a variant of する, so 通じる and similar examples are N-suru verbs in disguise. (talk) 03:02, 28 February 2012 (UTC)


Does anyone know anything about 頁 being read ぺいじ/ページ (pēji)? It seems that this is an example of a reading coming from English, which wouldn't fit the descriptions for 訓読み or 音読み on this page. I have a Japanese friend who insists that this is not a real reading of the character, just an informal abbreviation, but I doubt that because it is listed as a 訓読み everywhere I look, including WWWJDIC and the Japanese site goo.
Ulmanor (talk) 16:41, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Show your friend this page. See also wikt:ja:頁 and wikt:頁. Oda Mari (talk) 18:27, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Thanks. Do you know how and/or when this reading came about? And how it came to be commonly accepted? It just seems strange. Other kanji haven't taken Western readings; why this one? (Otherwise, there wouldn't be so much カタカナ…) I notice it's referred to as a "特殊な読み" on wikt:ja.
Ulmanor (talk) 19:19, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

I am not sure but it probably came in Bakumatsu or early Meiji period. Some of old loan words have kanji. Some are ateji, some are 熟字訓/jyukujikun, and a few have kunyomi. See kanji#other readings. There are other kanji taking Western readings. See ja:訓読み#外来語による訓読み. 煙草/莨/tabako is ateji/jyukujikun, but 頁 has kunyomi. Other kanji with Western readings as kunyomi are mostly units of measurement like 米 as メートル and 立 as リットル/litre (French). Some kanji were created in early Meiji for Western units like millimetre 粍 for millimetre, and 瓱 for milligramme. Most of them are not used today, but 頁 and 米 are still used as widely as katakana writing. If you have any question on Japanese, ask at WP:RD/Language. Though your friend is a native Japanese speaker, s/he seems to be sloppy. Oda Mari (talk) 09:38, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Ulmanor (talk) 23:50, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

KanjiLearn browser issues[edit]

In External Links we say of KanjiLearn

Electronic set of 2135 two-sided kanji flashcards, as easy to use as paper flashcards.

but we should say is that it will not run in some web browsers (in Opera 11 it complains that it was written for IE4 but runs fine in IE 8) WP should be browser neutral but note external links which are browser-specific

G. Robert Shiplett 16:44, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Pinyin in the Types of Kanji: by category section[edit]

I think it is definitely undue weight and CPOV. WP is not Wiktionary. Though the characters originated in China, this article is about the characters in Japan and every pinyin of the types of kanji section is not needed. Because the origin is mentioned in the section lead and readers can easily jump to the main article if they are interested about it. Besides, not every reader of the article is interested in zh. Looking at Hanja and Han tu, there are no pinyin. Why pinyin is needed in a section only in this article? And China#Etymology and Name of China#People's Republic of China do not mention 人民 and 共和国. The origin of both words is Japanese. I don't think the origin and the ja reading are needed in the articles. China and Japan share many characters, but you do not have to add pinyin or ja reading in every article. There are native zh and zh speaking editors, but no one has added pinyin in the section. White whirlwind, zh may be your biggest interest, but not for everyone. Your addition is undue weight and your CPOV. Oda Mari (talk) 06:44, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

User:Oda Mari – your use of the term "undue weight" in this application is nonsensical. WP:UNDUE is a doctrine that refers to competing theories or viewpoints on a different subject, such as in articles where the scholarly or scientific community may have a majority and minorities that need to be represented according to their prevalence (intelligent design, etc.). This article is not such a case. If you object to the use of pinyin, fine; just don't use WP policies if you don't understand them, please. WP:CPOVP is a thorny issue and one I would recommend you avoid – that's part of the reason why it's only an essay and not an official policy.
Now for the issue at hand. You raise a few points that I'll address here.
  1. "It's mentioned in the section lead already with a {{mainarticle}} tag" – good point.
  2. "Hanja and Hán tự don't have pinyin, so why should this one?" – it's surprising that they don't! Maybe someone can add them in there, too.
  1. "China#Etymology and Name of China#People's Republic of China do not mention 人民 and 共和国. The origin of both words is Japanese." – Th dea why you would even bring that one up in the first place. The second link doesn't contain any references to Japan, and I would respond by saying that they should point out that the term is Japanese! If I can find a source I'll do it myself. Only on the 共和国 one, though, which is a Sino-Japanese word created in Japan and re-borrowed back into Chinese (there are many of these – kagaku/kēxué 科学 is another example). How you think 人民 could be a Japanese term when it appears in the Classic of Poetry (see the poem "Yi" 抑 in the "Da ya") and in Outlaws of the Marsh is beyond me. Perhaps you're referring to its use in translating Western terms like "people" or "Volk" in early 20th century writings?
  1. "There are native zh and zh speaking editors, but no one has added pinyin in the section...." – this is a classic logical fallacy: "if it was necessary, someone would have already done it." If that was true, then nobody would ever improve or re-write Wikipedia articles, because an editor with similar knowledge to oneself would have already read it and not added it in, so why should you? It's nonsensical.
I'm not attempting to hijack this article or subvert it in some way. I'm merely attempting to thoroughly and assiduously inspect East Asian articles to improve their historical accuracy their etymological data for various nomenclatures. This isn't Wiktionary, true, but many Wikipedia articles contain etymological information, especially all the good articles on European terms, concepts, and locations. Our East Asian ones are a bit behind, and I'm just trying to help them catch up.  White Whirlwind  咨  01:02, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
User:Oda Mari – it's been a week with no response. In a few days I will assume you have conceded my points and will add my edits back in, though this time I will simply substitute the word "pinyin" for "Chinese" for the sake of a general readership who may not be familiar with Chinese.  White Whirlwind  咨  20:41, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
Neither Korean or Vietnamese is Chinese. Pinyin is not needed. It is a Chinese system.
This word 人民 in this context means the people of a modern nation, not a classical one.
You have not explained how it is a fallacy. I agree with her.
Given many differences between Japanese and Chinese, pinyin could mislead readers. Aside from phonological comparisons, I do not see a good reason to put pinyin in the top article of Japanese written in English. English and Japanese are enough.--Shinkansen Fan (talk) 13:53, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

request for on'yomi and kun'yomi articles[edit]

Please consider creating articles of on'yomi ja:音読み and kun'yomi ja:訓読み, which are covered by other languages. People need to know them to learn the language.--Shinkansen Fan (talk) 11:47, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

Rendaku: add more details[edit]

The rendaku phenomenon (initial voicing changes) is mentioned only very briefly. It should be mentioned earlier and with more details (list of examples and all possible changes). -- (talk) 16:29, 21 August 2012 (UTC)

Section 3.3 confusing use of ateji[edit]

In the third paragraph, the term is used before it is defined " – this is the opposite of ateji". Also this seems to contradict the statement "Jukujikun can be considered a form of ateji,". -- (talk) 23:35, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

Japanese books written in all kanji[edit]

Title Rikugunshō ... nenpō: zen, Volume 8 Contributor Japan. Rikugunshō Publisher Rikugunshō, 1875 Original from Harvard University Digitized Oct 10, 2008

Title 豐太閣征外新史: 5卷 Hō Taikō seigai shinshi: 5-kan, Sadahiro Kinoshita Author Sadahiro Kinoshita Publisher Aoyama Seikichi, 1893 Original from Harvard University Digitized Oct 2, 2008 Subjects Korea

Rajmaan (talk) 17:59, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

I think there are several systems that could be used for writing Japanese in all Kanji. Most of them should be more or less illegible without learning the system beforehand, though, since you have to work out on a case-by-case basis whether the kanji should be read by its semantic meaning (and the proper phonetic reading) or by its phonetic value (as a grammatical structure, etc). 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 22:53, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
The first one was written in kanji and katakana. They used katakana instead of hiragana then. The second one was written in kanbun style. The vol. 3, 4, and 5 are digitized at NDL too. See this. Both books are not exceptional. Oda Mari (talk) 08:11, 6 January 2013 (UTC)
If I understand the article correctly, it's rather arguably whether Kanbun could be described as "Japanese" (in a linguistic and nor purely national sense). 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 19:23, 6 January 2013 (UTC)


There are a lot of kokuji hyōgaiji: does 躾 really deserve special mention as one of "commonly used components of the written Japanese language"? It's not on any kanji frequency list I've seen. Jim Breen shows it in one of eight examples.[3]
Ulmanor (talk) 03:05, 21 May 2013 (UTC)


To improve uniformity of usage, I've changed the dozen or so instances each of "kun reading" and "on reading" to match the forms more commonly employed in the article: kun'yomi and on'yomi. (Exceptions: I've left the "reading" forms when they precede the Readings section in which the terms kun'yomi and on'yomi are introduced.)

However, I've left untouched the usage of "reading" or "readings" in terms such as "kan-on reading," "go-on readings," and "tō-on readings." If more complete uniformity of usage is desired, a discussion of the relative merits of "reading" vs. "yomi" might be in order. Lawrence J. Howell (talk) 05:31, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Purpose of Kanji[edit]

I am not sure if this is in here, but I did not see a section that I thought the answer would be in. But if every Japanese word can be represented in Hiragana, what is the reason kanji is used. If the reason boils down to tradition and cultural heritage then fine. (eg why does the United States use the imperial system of measurements). It would just be nice to have an understanding of why it is necessary or why it is used in favor of other Japanese systems. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:56, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

Its partlee for dhu saym reezun wee dont spel wurdz fonetiklee in Ingglish. ... We have many sets of homophones (different words that are pronounced the same), e.g.,
  • right, write, wright, rite
  • for, four, fore
  • see, sea, C
  • there, their, they're
  • your, you're, yore
  • to, two, too

and many that are homographs as well (different words that are written the same), e.g.,
  • right: opposite of "left", correct, principle of freedom or entitlement
  • left: opposite of "right", past tense of "leave"
  • saw: tool for cutting, past tense of "see", clichéd old saying

The problem is much worse in Japanese (see Homophone#Japanese), because while syllables in English can be quite complex – an extreme example is "strengths", with three consonant sounds in a row at the beginning and three in a row at the end ("ng" and "th" each represent a single sound that we write with two letters) – a Japanese syllable can begin with only one consonant at most and cannot end with a consonant at all. The hiragana syllabary, which has one character for each possible Japanese syllable, includes about 114 characters, counting some combinations and characters added recently to represent foreign sounds that don't exist in Japanese, such as "v". (Japanese Lesson: Hiragana) As a result, Japanese has a great many homophones. See Homophone#Japanese.

By comparison, one researcher came up with an estimate of 2,756 different syllables used in British "Received Pronunciation" English. This estimate does not include syllables that are possible but not used, such as "inksh" or "glarmf"; if those were counted, he figures the grand total would be 15,831 possible syllables. (Chris Barker, How many syllables does English have?)
--Thnidu (talk) 19:44, 12 July 2016 (UTC)

"That article"[edit]

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'yomisee 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

By the "see that article for more information on kun'yomi orthography", the author meant the okurigana wiki-page mentioned just before for 生? Maybe there should be a hyperlink for okurigana on the word "that" for example. "see that article" or "see okurigana article". How does that sound? A mere kawaii-chan (talk) 10:00, 17 December 2015 (UTC)

Halpern's KLD indexing system[edit]

The Halpern's KLD picture is a valuable visual addition to the article. On the chart, characters 621 and 622 appear equivalent. Is this an error in the chart, or is this same kanji character used to represent two distinct words, or is there a subtle difference between the two that I can't see, or...??? (talk) 16:35, 15 March 2016 (UTC)

Clarify meaning - monosyllabic is the most common?[edit]

This sentence " This contrasts with on'yomi, which are monosyllabic, and is unusual (my emphasis) 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." seems to me to contradict itself. Shouldn't it rather say the equivalent of "On'yomi is monosyllabic which is the most usual in the Chinese family of scripts... " ? Bj norge (talk) 10:07, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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"Myōnichi" as an on'yomi pronunciation of "明日"[edit]

"明日" is not exclusively jukujikun and can be pronounced as "myōnichi", which is on'yomi. See 明日. Magic sergeant (talk) 12:35, 22 July 2017 (UTC)