What the heck is this website?

Back in 1981, the Japanese government (via the Japanese Ministry of Education) announced a standardized list of 2,136 common kanji (basically to make life easier for Japanese people by limiting the number of kanji commonly used in Japanese society/literature/newspapers etc). This website, JoyoKanjiKai, simply provides an interface whereby anyone (you!) can type in a kanji and search to see if it is included in this list.

Take a look at our about page for more info.

I can’t see any kanji, just strange symbols and/or squares! Why?

If you’re using Windows then it’s most likely because your computer doesn’t have the necessary Japanese language pack installed. More info.

What does the “Kai” in the name “JoyoKanjiKai” mean?

Good question. At first, you might think this is a mistake, and that the “kai” part should really be simply the question-marking particle “ka” … In fact, “kai” is a sentence-ending particle () with a meaning that’s rather tricky to pin down. Dictionaries will tell you it can be used instead of “ka” for an added sense of emotion, rebellion or doubt; however, there’s really a bit more to it than that – it can also be used for an extra touch of humour, for example; although, truth be told, aside from elderly Japanese people (usually men), not many people really use it all that much anymore, which is a bit of a shame… So why use it here? Well, partly for the added sense of emotion, rebellion or doubt (is that REALLY a Jōyō Kanji? Perhaps you don’t think so – perhaps you have your doubts), partly for the added sense of humour it can bring, and partly just because JoyoKanjiKai sounds kind of neat^^! Alternatively, just think of the “Kai” part as (gathering) or (world), to make a kind of “Jōyō-Kanji Gathering” or a “Jōyō-Kanji World”…

What are Jōyō Kanji?

Jōyō Kanji (, lit. “regular-use kanji”) are the official set of Japanese kanji characters (defined by a guide/standard published by the Japanese Ministry of Education) taught to primary and secondary school students in Japan. Learn more.

How many Jōyō Kanji are there?

There are currently 2,136 jōyō kanji characters – here’s a complete list.

What are Jinmeiyō Kanji?

Jinmeiyō Kanji (, lit. “kanji for use in personal names”) are a supplementary set of 863 kanji characters that can, in addition to Jōyō Kanji, also be legally used in registering personal names in Japan. Learn more.

How many Jinmeiyō Kanji are there?

There are currently 863 jinmeiyō kanji characters (note: two new additions: (officially added in 2015) and (officially added in 2017)) – here’s a complete list.

What are Hyōgai Kanji?

Hyōgai Kanji (, lit. “kanji that are outside of the table”) are kanji characters that are not listed as either Jōyō Kanji or Jinmeiyō Kanji. Learn more.

How many Hyōgai Kanji are there?

There are loooooads of hyōgai kanji: there’s no official figure on exactly how many hyōgai kanji there are in Japanese, however, whichever way you look at it (i.e. no matter where you draw the line between ‘Japanese’ and ‘Chinese’ kanji – remembering that the vast majority of Japanese kanji actually came directly from the Chinese language), the general consensus is a figure well in excess of ten thousand!

Does JoyoKanjiKai work on iPhones/iPads, etc?

Sure does! Although there’s no specific app (yet), you can load the site through Safari, etc. There’s even a lovely JoyoKanjiKai icon to add (as a bookmark) to your device’s home screen!

I found a kanji in a book but i don’t know how to write it. How can I search for it on the site?

The site doesn’t have any kanji-lookup functionality, so you’ll need to be able to either type or copy-and-paste it.

Why do some results show a yellow polygon with the words “New for 2010”?

On the 30th November 2010, the Japanese Ministry of Education revised the list of Jōyō Kanji to include an additional 196 kanji (more info), such as , for example. The yellow polygon simply indicates these additional kanji characters.

I’d really like more info on the kanji, like readings etc…

Every kanji on the site links to its own page on Wiktionary, try clicking on one for more info!

How big is the kanji pool from which the Random Kanji Page selects a single kanji?

From approximately 13,000. Yes – 13,000! There’s 2,136 Jōyō Kanji and a further 863 Jinmeiyō Kanji, so that makes almost 3,000 already! However, this isn’t nearly enough to be able to read most of the classics like, say, Wagahai wa Neko de Aru or Botchan (check out some advanced-level kanji from Botchan here) by Natsume Sōseki. So how many kanji DO you need to know? Well…certainly not as many as 13,000, that’s for sure! Even level 1 of the famous Kanji Kentei only tests something like six or seven thousand…

How about creating a page that shows simply a random _jōyō_ kanji, i.e. a random kanji from just the official 2,136 jōyō kanji?

Oh… …all right then: here you go!

The about page reads “award-winning website”, what award’s that then?

Our wonderful web hosts, DreamHost, hold a ‘Site of the Month’ competition, which, in January 2013, we won!

I really love this site, how can I support you guys?

We’re over the moon you like the site. Why not let others know about it and help build our community? Maybe like us on Facebook and/or send a tweet?

What’s the system that powers this website?

What a geeky question! Are you a web geek? The answer is WordPress – surprising huh?! If you’re looking to start your own website and need WordPress hosting, check out this amazing page on WinningWP.

What’s the point of all this?

In short, the primary aim of the site is to provide a straight-forward (and hopefully fun) means of checking whether or not an arbitrary Japanese kanji character (that you may have found in a book or somewhere on the internet, for example) is one of the official 2,136 jōyō (common-use) kanji characters – without bombarding you with any other information: like readings, meanings and stroke order, etc. Additionally, the site also recognizes all 863 of the Jinmeiyō Kanji and almost all (almost 13,000) of the kanji listed in Jim Breen’s Kanjidic2.

Isn’t that a bit of a simple concept for a website?

Yep, it sure is. Give it a try!