Chinese in Japanese

Most of you know that Japanese uses “kanji” and that it has another writing system that is its own. There are 3 scripts in Japanese: hiragana, katakana, and kanji(漢字). The first two scripts are known collectively as kana and were both derived from Chinese characters. Kanji on the other hand, is a bit different.

Kanji IS hanzi, that is to say, 漢字 is 漢字. However, the Japanese borrowed the symbols throughout different time periods, thus they are not all the same.

MOST of the kanji in Japanese are the exact same as traditional Chinese characters. If you know traditional characters, you can read a good amount of Japanese and/or can understand the gist of any conversation. Having some basic knowledge of the Japanese language can greatly increase what you understand, without even having to learn the language.

There are, however, some characters that are the same as simplified Chinese characters, such as 会(會). There are even characters that the Japanese government simplified themselves, leaving us with a THIRD version of any said character. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

  • 樂(TC),楽(J),乐(SC)
  • 龍(TC),竜(J),龙(SC)
  • 關(TC),関(J),关(SC)

You can find a more extensive list here.

In addition, there are characters that were invented by the Japanese but do not exist in Chinese, such as 畑(hatake, a field of crops).

In conclusion, you will see a LOT of two-character compounds that are the same in Chinese and Japanese, so whenever people are having conversations in Japanese chatrooms, you won’t be dumbfounded like the weeaboos around you. Unless you don’t know any traditional characters….then you’ll be with the weeaboos :/