Forget Japanese Kanji

How many kanji do the Japanese need to know?

How many kanji do the Japanese need to know in order to read, write, and speak their own language? One of the biggest problems and "headaches" when learning Japanese is the Chinese characters that are used in the language and are known as Kanji.

How many Kanji are there?

Japanese schoolchildren must learn 1006 basic characters, the Kanji Kyōiku, before completing sixth grade. This list is a subset of a larger list introduced by the Japanese Ministry of Education in 1945.

This list is called Jouyou Kanji (常用 漢字), which literally means "Common Chinese Characters". Currently, this list of required characters contains approximately 2136 kanji for Japanese language proficiency. This larger list of characters should be mastered by the end of school. Students learn through repetition methods.

In total, it is believed that there are more than 5000 Chinese ideograms in the Japanese language. Over the years, these ideograms were no longer used and replaced with other words written in hiragana, other kanji, or even international words written in katakana. Knowing 2000 kanji is more than enough to be able to speak the Japanese language fluently.

Do the Japanese know all Kanji?

It is said that the Japanese do not know all of the jōyō kanji that are the most advanced as some of them are rarely used in everyday life and the infrequent use of some kanji makes the Japanese forget as much as they learned about these characters in school . Depending on their occupation, the Japanese may or may not know all of these signs.

  • A factory worker, for example, will certainly not know / remember everyone;
  • A biologist or doctor can know more about these kanji;

Now, someone who works in the field of education, literature, or some humanities knows almost all of these kanji as they are dealing with these under-used characters.

However, in texts and newspapers, the little-used characters include furigana to make reading easier for those who do not know them. A well-educated Japanese person can read 3,000 kanji or more. A PhD can likely reach as high as 5000, especially if it relates to your field of specialization.

More than 5000 are possible, but many kanji would be extremely rare, which would make it even more difficult to remember. In reality, we shouldn't worry about the number of ideograms in the Japanese language. We don't even have to count how much we've learned. Just focus on learning words and deciphering an unfamiliar kanji on radicals.

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