Shinjitai

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Shinjitai (kanji: 新字体, kana:しんじたい) literally means "new character forms" in Japanese. These are kanji (the Japanese word for Chinese characters) that were simplified in Japan after World War II. At that time the Japanese government changed the writing system by replacing many kyūjitai (kanji: 旧字体, kana: きゅうじたい, meaning: old character forms) by making simpler characters. These newer characters had the exact same meaning and pronunciations as the older ones, but they could be written with fewer strokes of a pen. For example, the character 樂 simplified to 楽. Some shinjitai characters are also used as simplified Chinese characters. For example, the character 国 is used in both Japanese and simplified Chinese. However, most shinjitai look more like traditional Chinese characters (called kyūjitai in Japanese) than even simplified Chinese characters do, and there are also far fewer shinjitai than simplified Chinese characters. While most Japanese words these days use the shinjitai form, there are a few words where writing the kyūjitai form is still common. For example, the word "dragon" is usually written using the shinjitai character 竜, but writing the kyūjitai character 龍 for it is also still quite common. For most kanji, however, the shinjitai form is unchanged from the kyūjitai form.

Comparison of Kyūjitai, Shinjitai, and Simplified Chinese Characters[change | change source]

Kyūjitai Shinjitai Simplified Chinese Meaning
Characters simplified differently in both Japanese and Chinese
dragon
turltle
广 wide / expanse
close
single / odd
inferior / second ; Asia
happy / cheerful / joy / pleasure
round/ Japanese yen or Chinese yuan (name of currency)
iron / railroad
齿 tooth
Characters simplified the same way in both Japanese and Chinese
country / kingdom / state / nation
湿 湿 wet / damp
豿 dog
noodles
old
form
return
Characters simplified in Chinese but not in Japanese
east
car / coach / cart / vehicle ; wheel
drink
talk / speech
silver
paper
shell
survey / measure
door / gate
hear / news
leaf
machine
love
Characters simplified in Japanese but not in Chinese
thirsty
ice
Buddha / Buddhism
Characters not simplified in either language
salinized soil / lagoon
mouse / rat / rodent