196 new official kanji characters

The Japanese language has three different alphabets: hiragana, katakana and kanji. Hiragana and katakana represent syllables and have a fixed number of characters (46 each, 92 in total). Kanji characters are much more complex; in theory there are more than 50,000 kanji characters. The good news is that “officially” only 1,945 of them can be used. These 1,945 kanji form a list known as jōyō kanji “常用漢字”, that supposedly every Japanese person has to known to be able to read without problems. These are the 1,945 kanji characters of the jōyō kanji list in a 10 minute video:

The “bad” news this week for Japanese learners is that after 29 years without changes the government has decided to add 196 new kanjis to the list. They have also removed 5 kanjis from the list, so the list from now on will have 2,136 official kanji characters. So, does this mean that now it is more difficult to learn Japanese? I don’t think so; it’s basically the same because the characters that have been added were being used in practice by almost everybody even if they were not on the list. I suppose that that is the reason they have decided to expand the list, the new kanji are really well-known and it is absurd not to consider them “official”.

This is the complete list of all the 196 characters added and the 5 characters removed. There are also some extra notes about new readings and extra 熟語 (jukugo).

Joyo kanji list

Here I select some of the kanji that caught my attention because I thought they were already official but it turns out they weren’t. If you have studied Japanese for three or four years it’s almost sure you already know almost all of them; the ass character was no official!!:

  • 鬱: depressed, melancholy
  • 狙: to aim
  • 崖: cliff
  • 尻: ass
  • 串: skewer
  • 痩: to lose weight
  • 爽: refreshing
  • 呂: vertebral column
  • 熊: bear
  • 嵐: storm
  • 鍵: key
  • 宛: direction
  • 蜜: honey
  • 爪: nail, claw
  • 枕: pillow
  • jd

    June 8, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Ah, but which ass is it? The animal or the body part?

  • cryptnotic

    June 8, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Do you have a full resolution version of that chart? That one is difficult to read.

  • janne

    June 9, 2010 at 2:44 am

    It does indeed mean the back

  • jeni

    June 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    simple. clean. simple AND clean. (if you know what i mean). (sorry, samui) the characters looked as if they were dancing, i like it!: )

  • jeni

    June 11, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    oh and if you dont mind, what’s the name of the first song? reminds me of something michael nyman/the piano…

  • Karakter tonen | talenD

    February 1, 2012 at 6:24 am

    […] las net dat het Japans 196 tekens aan hun schrift heeft toevoegd. Ik heb zoiets van: je kunt die Japanners niet echt van […]