こくじ【国字】

1. kanji invented in Japan
2. kana


1. kanji invented in Japan

■ A 国字 is a kanji that was invented in Japan.

□ The vast majority of kanji used to write Japanese originated in China, but several hundred characters have been invented in Japan, include some that remain in common use. The following 国字 are found on the 常用漢字(じょうようかんじ) list: 匁, 込, 峠, 畑, 塀, 働, 枠, and 搾, although the status of 搾 as a 国字 has been questioned as it does appear in some early 20th century dictionaries published in China. Others in widespread use today include some names of fish (鱈, 鰹, 鰯) and plants (樫, 笹, 榊). Plant 国字 are particularly common in place names and surnames.

The earliest 国字 date back to the Nara Period, and a dictionary from the early Heian Period listed over four hundred. Since the adoption of typesetting and now computers, however, the invention of new kanji (other than for nonce purposes) has stopped in Japan, and there seem to be no new 国字.

Other names for 国字 include 和字(わじ), 倭字(わじ), and 和俗字(わぞくじ).

(The use of the character 国 "country" to mean "Japan" is not unusual. Another example is 国産(こくさん), which means "made in Japan.")

See also 文字.


2. kana

■ According to dictionaries, another meaning of 国字 is 仮名(かな), meaning hiragana and katakana, though this meaning may no longer be current.


This entry was created by Tom Gally.


Created 2000-08-21.


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