Shinjitai are the forms of kanji
Kanji are the adopted logographic Chinese characters hanzi that are used in the modern Japanese writing system along with hiragana , katakana , Indo Arabic numerals, and the occasional use of the Latin alphabet...

 used in Japan since the promulgation of the Tōyō Kanji List
Toyo kanji
The tōyō kanji, also known as the Tōyō kanjihyō are the result of a reform of the Kanji characters of Chinese origin in the Japanese written language. They were the kanji declared "official" by the Japanese on November 16, 1946...

 in 1946. Some of the new forms found in shinjitai are also found in simplified Chinese, but shinjitai is generally not as extensive in the scope of its modification. Thus, modern Japanese kanji more closely resemble traditional Chinese characters.

Shinjitai were created by reducing the number of strokes in kyūjitai
Kyūjitai, literally "old character forms" , are the traditional forms of kanji, Chinese written characters used in Japanese. Their simplified counterparts are shinjitai, "new character forms". Some of the simplified characters arose centuries ago and were in everyday use in both China and Japan,...

(/, "old character form"), unsimplified Kanji equivalent to Traditional Chinese characters, also called seiji, meaning proper/correct characters through a process (similar to that of Simplified Chinese) of either replacing the tsukuri indicating the On reading with another character of the same On reading with fewer strokes, or replacing a complex component of a character with a simpler one.

There have been a few stages of simplifications made since the 1950s, but there had been no changes made since the promulgation of the Jōyō Kanji List
Joyo kanji
The is the guide to kanji characters announced officially by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Current jōyō kanji are those on a list of 2,136 characters issued in 2010...

 in 1981 until the 2010 updates.


The following forms were established as a result of the postwar character reforms. However, they were not completely created anew, as many were based on widely used handwritten abbreviations (ryakuji
Ryakuji are colloquial simplifications of Kanji.- Status :Ryakuji are not covered in the Kanji Kentei, nor are they officially recognized...

) from the prewar era. This page shows examples of these handwritten abbreviations, identical to their modern shinjitai forms, from the prewar era. Due to the complexity of kanji, many abbreviations were used in handwriting, whose status rose to become official characters in the postwar reforms. Attention was paid to the aesthetic balance of the characters in their new form.
tetsu (noun) iron (metal)
yo ata(eru) (verb) to bestow, to impart
gaku mana(bu) (verb) to learn
tai karada (noun) body
tai (noun) stand; short form for Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

koku kuni (noun) country, kingdom, nation
kan seki (preposition) involve, concerning
sha utsu(su) (verb) to write or compose
hiro(i) (adjective) expansive, wide
en maru(i) (noun) Japanese yen
Japanese yen
The is the official currency of Japan. It is the third most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar and the euro. It is also widely used as a reserve currency after the U.S. dollar, the euro and the pound sterling...

; (adjective) round, circular

Unofficial simplifications

There are other widely used ryakuji of this sort, such as the abbreviations for (in simplified Chinese, this abbreviation, , has become official) and (which exists in Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 as 㐧, but these have not been included in the shinjitai reforms.

Unlike simplified Chinese, which was applied to all characters, the simplification in shinjitai were only officially applied to characters in the Tōyō and Jōyō Kanji Lists, with the kyūjitai forms remaining the official forms of . For example, the character (KYO, agaru, ageru; raise [an example]) was simplified as , but the character 欅 (keyaki; zelkova
Zelkova is a genus of six species of deciduous trees in the elm family Ulmaceae, native to southern Europe, and southwest and eastern Asia. They vary in size from shrubs to large trees up to 35 m tall . The leaves are alternate, with serrated margins, and a symmetrical base to the leaf blade...

 tree) which also contained , remained unsimplified due to its status as a Hyōgaiji.

Simplified forms of hyōgaiji do exist, and are referred to as . However, they are unofficial, a position reiterated in the National Language Council’s 2000 report on Characters Not Listed in the Jōyō Kanji Table.

The Asahi Shimbun
Asahi Shimbun
The is the second most circulated out of the five national newspapers in Japan. Its circulation, which was 7.96 million for its morning edition and 3.1 million for its evening edition as of June 2010, was second behind that of Yomiuri Shimbun...

newspaper is thorough in its simplification of hyōgaiji, and its in-house simplifications are called Asahi characters
Asahi characters
are forms of Kanji particular to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. Unlike Simplified Chinese, where simplifications apply to all characters, the general custom in Japanese publications is to print Jōyō/Jinmeiyō Kanji in simplified Shinjitai forms, and to print Hyōgaiji using their original,...

For example (KEIREN; cramp, spasm, convulsion) is simplified following the model of and . This is also said to have been done because in the age of typewriter
A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a medium, usually paper. Typically one character is printed per keypress, and the machine prints the characters by making ink impressions of type elements similar to the pieces...

-based printing, more complicated kanji could not be clearly printed.
See the article on Asahi characters
Asahi characters
are forms of Kanji particular to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. Unlike Simplified Chinese, where simplifications apply to all characters, the general custom in Japanese publications is to print Jōyō/Jinmeiyō Kanji in simplified Shinjitai forms, and to print Hyōgaiji using their original,...

 for more information.

Japanese Industrial Standards
Japanese Industrial Standards specifies the standards used for industrial activities in Japan.The standardization process is coordinated by Japanese Industrial Standards Committee and published through Japanese Standards Association.-History:...

 standards contain numerous simplified forms of Kanji following the model of the shinjitai simplifications, such as (the simplified form of ); many of these are included in Unicode, but are not present in most kanji character sets.

Adoption of grass script forms

Cursive script
Cursive script (East Asia)
Cursive script , sometimes translated as Grass script is a style of Chinese calligraphy. Cursive script is faster to write than other styles, but difficult to read for those unfamiliar with it. It functions primarily as a kind of shorthand script or calligraphic style...

 and semi-cursive script
Semi-cursive script
Semi-cursive script is a cursive style of Chinese characters. Because it is not as abbreviated as cursive, most people who can read regular script can read semi-cursive....

 forms of kanji were adopted as shinjitai. Examples include:
  • 圖→図
  • 觀→観
  • 示 (religion/ceremony radical) →礻
  • 晝→昼

The aforementioned 门 handwritten simplification also originated from semi-cursive, but is not generally accepted in official Japanese writing.

Standardization and unification of character forms

Characters in which there were two or more variants were standardized under one form. The character 島 (, shima; island) also had the variant forms 嶋 (still seen in proper names) and 嶌, but the 島 form became standard. The 辶 radical was once printed with two dots (as in the hyōgaiji 逞) but was written with one (as in 道), so the written form with one dot became standard. The character 青 (SEI, SHŌ, aoi; blue) was once printed as 靑 but written as 青, so the written form became standard. The upper 丷 portion of the characters 半, 尊, and 平 was once printed as 八 and written 丷 (as in these three examples), but the old printed form is still seen in the hyōgaiji characters 絆 and 鮃.

Change of character indicating On reading

Kanji of the keisei monji (形声文字) family contain a radical
Radical (Chinese character)
A Chinese radical is a component of a Chinese character. The term may variously refer to the original semantic element of a character, or to any semantic element, or, loosely, to any element whatever its origin or purpose...

 (bushu, 部首) and a character indicating its On reading (onpu, 音符). 清, 晴, 静, 精, 蜻 are all read with the On reading SEI, as indicated by the onpu 青. In this method of simplification, an onpu that is complicated is replaced by a simpler kanji with the same reading, for example, the character 圍 (I, kakomu; enclose), in which the onpu is 韋 (read as I), is replaced by 井 (also read as i, although this is actually the Kun reading) to become 囲. Other simplifications of this method include 竊→窃, 廰→庁, 擔→担. There are also colloquial handwritten simplifications based on this model, in which various non-kanji symbols are used as onpu, for example 魔 (MA; demon) [simplification: 广+マ {Katakana
is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji, and in some cases the Latin alphabet . The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana scripts are derived from components of more complex kanji. Each kana represents one mora...

 ma}], 慶 (KEI; jubilation) [广+K] , 藤 (, fuji; wisteria) [艹+ト {Katakana to}], and 機 (KI; machine, opportunity) [木+キ {Katakana ki}].

Removal of complicated portions

Some kanji were simplified by removing entire components. For example,
  • The 倠 portion of 應 was removed to become 応
  • 藝→芸
  • 縣→県
  • 絲→糸
  • 蟲→虫

One curious example is 龍, meaning "dragon". It was simplified to 竜, but the same character was not simplified when it appeared as a part of another kanji. A particularly curious example is 襲, meaning "attack", because it appears on the list of jōyō kanji
Joyo kanji
The is the guide to kanji characters announced officially by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Current jōyō kanji are those on a list of 2,136 characters issued in 2010...

 (and is the only character containing 龍 to do so), although 龍 itself does not.

Like one of the controversial aspects of simplified Chinese, some shinjitai were originally separate characters with different meanings. For example, the Shinjitai 芸 (GEI; performance, accomplishment) which was originally a separate character read with the On reading UN. Many of the original characters which have become merged are no longer used in modern Japanese: for example, 豫 (YO, arakaji(me); in advance) and 餘 (YO, ama(ri); excess) were merged with 予 and 余, respectively, both archaic kanji for the first person pronoun "I". However, 芸 poses a problem, in that Japan's first public library, Untei (芸亭) (built during the Nara Period
Nara period
The of the history of Japan covers the years from AD 710 to 794. Empress Gemmei established the capital of Heijō-kyō . Except for 5 years , when the capital was briefly moved again, it remained the capital of Japanese civilization until Emperor Kammu established a new capital, Nagaoka-kyō, in 784...

) uses this character. This character also has significance in classical Japanese literature
Japanese literature
Early works of Japanese literature were heavily influenced by cultural contact with China and Chinese literature, often written in Classical Chinese. Indian literature also had an influence through the diffusion of Buddhism in Japan...

, and Japanese history books have had to distinguish between the two by writing UN using the old form of the 艹 radical, (十十).

External links

Glyph conversion

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