I have found several pairs of kanji that are pronounced the same and mean the same when they are used individually:
- 目 and 眼
- 足 and 脚
- 木 and 樹
This especially bugs me because, in Chinese (my native language), the latter ones are almost exclusively used when by themselves.
I had a small discussion about this but we didn't really come to any conclusion other than they are used interchangeably.
I currently have a few questions about this:
- Are they be used completely interchangeably without changing meaning (not connotation)?
- Is one used more commonly than the other? I'm assuming the former ones are.
- Do they give any "feeling" such as old, formal, mystical, etc?
Remember, this is only when the characters are used individually and not part of compound words. Also ignore their usage in expressions/idioms/proverbs.
Also, I would be interested if there are other kanji pairs like this.