The most common Kanji reading?

This is kind of me pondering useless trivia, but last night I was up late thinking “A lot of Kanji have the same reading, especially On’yomi kanji. I wonder what’s the most common shared reading between all the Kanji?”
For example, こう is used for many, many different kanji such as 高、公、向 、工 etc etc, and if I had a hunch I’d say that’s the answer but I can’t be sure. Does anyone else have an idea or do you just, like a normal person presumably, don’t think about it?

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I always guess こう when I forget, and most of the times it’s correct.


I think I looked this up once in a book on the Joyo kanji and IIRC しょう had the most entries with こう being second. I can try to find the book again to confirm.


Also I found this that seems to confirm my memory:




Hmm, very interesting question!

On a similar topic, I wonder if there is anyone that has made a list that shows how common each reading that each kanji has is used for words that have it. It could be helpful to know when trying to learn to kanji, so that you could guess based of off likeliness, how likely a certain word is to be read a certain way.

Depends on if you’re asking for all kanji or just the jouyou list. For beyond jouyou, it’s looking like コウ is probably the winner.

Edit: So I actually counted characters for the onyomi readings from the official Kanken dictionary, and the top 5, in order, are:

コウ (248字)
ショウ (229字)
ソウ (173字)
カン (153字)

I think someone else counted from the 大漢和辞典 and コウ was still the most at over 2000 characters.


If that is the case, then how little words does wanikani have? According to Jisho, 987 words have the “jou” sound in them, and 1214 have the “kyou” sound in them.

In the grand scheme of the whole language? A tiny fraction. The latest edition of the Kojien dictionary has something like 250,000 entries. Even in comparison to the size of the average active and passive vocabularies of a native, it’s not going to be enough to have a fully-formed vocabulary. That’s why most people move on to something like Core 10k after WK or supplement with that while doing WK.

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Hmm, ok. How do people find things like Core 10K? When I look up things to use to learn Japanese, things like that don’t tend to show up.

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Yeah, this is my first time hearing of it too.

This thread may be helpful for you:

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Ahh, there’s so many other Japanese learning tools I start hearing about daily
currently I only use WK and someone sent me some Genki PDFs but I don’t quite know how to use them properly, and I don’t know what else to be using :confounded:

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only 27 x かい ? It feels like i come across this reading every single day that i do reviews… or maybe my leeches contain alotta かい…

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Yeah, WK is only one piece of your learning journey. You’re going to need to also start building your grammar foundation. And while WK can be a good start for learning words to build your vocab, you’re going to need many more even beyond that. Even Core 10K is not going to be enough.

In that case, shot in the dark: What resources do you suggest at an early stage? I know absolutely nothing about grammar.

i try to use different meanings and memonics for different kou or shou or shin.

For free resources there’s Tae Kim, Cure Dolly or Imabi.

For textbooks I think most people use Genki or Minna no Nihongo.

When in doubt, こう!
Though しょう seems to be slightly more likely I saw in the post above =P
But こう FEELS more common :rofl:

When I don’t know the answer I just put E, to get to the info.
It is almost never right, until it was! I tried こう, was told “We want kun”… um… no. “e”… correct XD
SO the one time my “E for eeeeh I don’t know” was correct, I wanted to put こう, which WAS correct, just not their preferred reading =P
It was this one: 江 WaniKani / Kanji / 江


Funny, cause a katakana エ looks like kanji for construction 工