sci.lang.japan FAQ / 1. Writing / 1.2.

1.2.5. Which kanji were created in Japan?

Most of the kanji were invented by the Chinese, but some characters were invented by the Japanese. These are known in Japan as kokuji (国字), literally "national characters". These kanji often have only a kun'yomi or native Japanese reading, and no on'yomi, or Chinese-derived, reading (see 1.2.7. Why do have several different pronunciations?). For example, the kanji used to write the verb hataraku and used to write komu are both Japanese inventions. The character [tōge meaning "mountain pass"] is also a Japanese invention. Some of these characters, such as hataraku, were even re-absorbed back into Chinese and thus gained an on'yomi.


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