I'm curious if there's any historical link between the kanji for "gate", 門{かど}, and the kanji for "circle" or "yen", 円{えん}. If 門 is gate, 円 looks like a closed gate. Am I being whimsical and seeing patterns in the wind, or is there a substantive link here?

Please use furigana when writing kanji; I'm a beginning student and don't know many kanji.

  • 5
    They are not related. 円 was originally written as 圓.
    – Yang Muye
    Oct 29, 2014 at 15:09
  • Okay. What prompted the change?
    – Lou
    Oct 29, 2014 at 15:11
  • 2
    Hope someone will translate this for you. dictionary.sanseido-publ.co.jp/wp/2010/03/18/…
    – Yang Muye
    Oct 29, 2014 at 15:14
  • 1
    @LeoKing I believe that the switch from 圓 to 円 was part of the post-war transition from kyuujitai to shinjitai, in which a large number of characters changed forms (not just 圓).
    – senshin
    Oct 29, 2014 at 20:03
  • 1
    This suspicion is off the mark. Why not just hypothesize that 門 is just 月cut vertically in half, with the halves each closed off by a stroke.
    – Kaz
    Nov 25, 2014 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


As noted in the question comments, the kanji 円 was originally 圓. The nutshell version of the article Yang Muye linked is that monks developed a shorthand version of 圓 that looked like a box with a vertical line through it: shorthand version of 圓 that looks like a box with a vertical line through it. Over time, the shape of the surrounding box changed, likely due to the same anatomical and mechanical processes that inform any change in handwriting. enter image description here became enter image description here, and then that became the modern simplified shinjitai character 円.

門, meanwhile, is a pictogram of a gate. You might run across alternative form 鬥, but otherwise, this character is much more straightforward, both in semantic development and graphical evolution.

Ultimately, the resemblance between 円 and 門 is purely accidental, and has much more to do with the constraints placed on kanji shapes and the kinds of strokes used in handwriting.

  • 3
    I know Japanese doesn't use「鬥」anymore, but it originally meant たたかう - the replacement of「鬥」with「門」happened in many characters because they looked similar, and hence why these characters had something to do with fighting / noisy. These characters have no semantic connection with「門」, so be careful in calling them variants.
    – dROOOze
    Sep 7, 2018 at 1:59

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