Kanji and Chinese Simplification Matching Sheet

I put together a spreadsheet that compares the differences between the Kyoiku kanji and Traditional and Simplified Chinese characters (source: Kyōiku kanji - Wikipedia)

I’ve just started studying Japanese (level 3), but I have a background in Chinese so I thought having the comparative simplifications would be helpful. I don’t know if anyone else is in this boat, but I often stumble over Kanji that are written differently (esp. because I don’t know simplified Chinese well)

The spreadsheet indicates whether the kanji matches either the Traditional or Simplified character set, if it matches both, or if it’s unique to Japanese. There may be problems with encoding that cause the Excel logic to malfunction - I unfortunately don’t have the level of Japanese proficiency to verify.

Kanji Simplification Table

Hope someone finds it useful


Ooo, interesting. I have noticed (anecdotally) that Japanese kanji match traditional forms more often than not - it’s nice for it to be empirically confirmed. :slightly_smiling_face:

I admit I’m a bit curious as to why Wikipedia lists thirteen kanji with the same form in Chinese and Japanese under the “different forms in Chinese and Japanese” list…

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Thanks I love Chinese!!
I’m studying Chinese too but at a super extra super slow speed.

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It is strange. Unhelpfully there’s no source linked in the article - figures.

I’d love to do this on a wider scale (I’m assuming Japanese has a lot more than these simplifications, though I’m hoping these are among the more frequent) and with common definition comparisons. One of my big trip-ups in Wanikani is just writing in the common Chinese definition when it’s different in Japanese (or at least in WK).

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Ohhh so cool sometimes the chinese changes and sometimes both the japanese and chinese changes from the original
画-畫-画, 師-師-师

That’s interesting.

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Yeah, and it gets weirder with handwriting. I learned that 関 was the Japanese simplification of 關 because I kept seeing it handwritten in Taiwan as 関 and I kept reading it as 閉 until someone corrected me.


Whoa that kanji looks wild.
Hey that’s my last name!!
井関is my last name.
Does 井 change at all?

Looks like 井 was only added to the Kyoiku kanji this year, so it’s not included in the “differences between Japanese and Chinese” section at the bottom. From Wiktionary, it does appear to be the same in Chinese.

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Belthazar is correct. It’s the same in traditional and simplified chinese. There is an alternate form , but it’s archaic and probably never used for anything ever. An identically written “丼” has a totally different sound and meaning in modern contexts.

If you want to go really really deep down a rabbit hole, the Taiwan ministry of education has the probably definitive online guide to alternate characters. Only necessary if you want to shoot yourself while reading classical chinese.


Haha I do love my rabbit holes.
Oh sorry a bit off topic here but I’ve been waiting to ask it to people who like history.
Is it true the Japanese didn’t have a writing system before Chinese?
They just used Chinese characters?
Somehow I just can’t believe that.

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Found a good thread discussing this outside of wanikani. Pretty interesting stuff.

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A tanuki checking out rabbit holes. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Just to add on though: there really was a period where Japan basically just used Classical Chinese for its documents. It was the same in Korea. If you look at the document that defined the relationships between nobles, the Emperor and the shogun during the Edo period (禁中並公家諸法度 - Wikipedia), you’ll see that it’s entirely in Classical Chinese. (I can’t really decipher it though. Perhaps there are too many terms that were specific to Japanese governance at the time.) In Korea, the document that promulgated Hangul (the current Korean alphabet) was also written in Classical Chinese: Hunminjeongeum - Wikipedia. I guess it’s like how most of the Romance languages of Europe didn’t really have a standardised writing system until Latin gradually started falling out of favour.

Actually, if you look up the 草書(そうしょ; cǎo shū in hanyu pinyin. I don’t know the bopomofo system, sorry.) forms of most traditional Chinese characters, you’ll have an idea of where many of the simplified Chinese characters are from. Simplified Chinese and Japanese don’t share all of their simplifications, but they share a good number, so it might be worth knowing.

Japanese kanji generally seek to maintain the shape of the traditional kanji when simplifying. Simplified Chinese has a tendency to simplify using 草書 calligraphy shorthand rules, or by substituting complicated components with simpler phonetic components. That’s the pattern I’ve noticed. For example, in the case of 應, Japanese kept the bottom component, giving us 応. Simplified Chinese kept the three vertical strokes of 倠 and turned 心 into a horizontal line, giving us 应.

By the way, could I ask which article this is? When I searched what you put in quotes, I got the ‘false friends’ list. Is that what you’re talking about here?


Same article listed in the OP.

And also items on the spreadsheet with a kanji match status of “both”.

Ah, I see. Thanks. It is strange indeed. By the way though, there are some errors on the Wikipedia page. For example, 画 is said to be written the same way in Japanese as in Simplified Chinese. That’s not true though, because in Simplified Chinese, the central component is a 田, whereas in Japanese, it’s a 由. Similarly, in Japanese, 梅 should be written with a 毎 on the right. In Chinese, it’s written with a 每 on the right. Some of these things are quite minor. For example, apparently two forms of 冷 are acceptable – one with a マ in the bottom right, and another with something like 卫, but without the bottom horizontal stroke. Examples of acceptable variations are given on the Joyo Kanji List. Other variations are considered mistakes though, like 黙 (Japanese) vs 默 (Chinese), or so I believe. I guess the only way to be sure is to check an official source.

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I think there might be some issues with the encoding either on the Wiki article, my spreadsheet (I brought the wiki article into a comma delimited file to bring it into excel), or both. That may be causing the discrepancies. I’ll look into it. Chinese encoding has a lot of accuracy issues to begin with.

To your point about simplifications and 草書, you’re absolutely right. It’s just one of those cases where I recognize the character from people’s handwriting but I wouldn’t recognize it in print form. Usually, I can guess the simplification based on visual similarity- like 經濟 → 经済 or its use in the sentence, like when 這裏 becomes 这里. It’s not perfect but it’s how I scraped through the HSK lol

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