Official Japanese kanji compared with 漢字 (Chinese characters)

As a sometime student of Mandarin Chinese, I wonder if anyone knows of a guide to which kanji retain the full-form (“traditional”) character, as used officially in Taiwan and widely in Hong Kong, Macao and most overseas Chinese communities, as opposed to the simplified character set used in the PRC, and now officially adopted in Malaysia and Singapore? There are also specifically Japanese kanji.

Essentially, what I’m looking for is kanji sorted into 4 categories:

  1. Full-form characters
  2. Simplified characters
  3. Characters that are the same in both of the above and
  4. Specifically Japanese characters.

My suspicion is that someone has already done this, but where?

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Japan did their own writing reforms, they did not adopt any of the simplifications China was doing (or at least only by accident). So there may be three versions of a characters, traditional and with different simplifications.

The transformation in Japan is from 旧字体 to 新字体 (old to new forms), there is a list of changes in the wiki article:

Specifically Japanese characters are called 国字, there is a list here:


Took me far too long to figure out why you were wanting to compare kanji to kanji…

漢字 is “kanji” in Japanese.


I’ve been wondering about this for a while as well, so I made a spreadsheet.
The first column is the Japanese characters from Wanikani, the second is their simplified Chinese versions, and the third is their traditional Chinese versions. When a character is highlighted in red that means it’s different from the Japanese form.

Also, there are only 7 国字 taught on WaniKani and they are 働峠枠栃畑込塀. I made a column (called “Kokuji?”) and if there is a “Yes,” the kanji is a 国字. If I left it blank, it’s not.

弁 appears to have four Chinese equivalents (simplified: 辫辩办瓣 / traditional: 辮辯辦瓣). I think these characters were “combined” into 弁 during the adoption of Chinese characters into Japanese because this wiktionary page says that it takes all four meanings in compound words.


That reduction happened in the Chinese simplification programme in the PRC, too. (In case anyone is interested in learning a Chinese language too, that makes dictionaries based on PRC orthography wildly unreliable if you need to look up older texts, full-form characters or non-Mandarin Chinese languages - even from otherwise reliable publishers: the absence of a one-to-one correlation is usually ignored.)

It’s interesting to see the pared-down Japanese aesthetic reflected in those characters; they’ve obviously rejected the ugliness of many of the simplified Chinese characters (e.g. 飛 這 門 → 飞 这 门).

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