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In Chinese 'black' is 黑 and in Japanese it's 黒, but the kanji are not the same. In traditional Chinese it's exactly the same as in simplified so both are 黑 but Japanese is different. Was 黒 simplified?

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Yes, 黒 is the 新字体{しんじたい} (simplified) form of 黑, which took the two dots at the top and turned them into a straight line. The same simplification can be seen in 曾 -> 曽. This was all part of the 1945 simplification scheme in Japanese.

黑 is still used in chinese though, both simplified and traditional, and has the exact same meaning of "black", as you pointed out.

Without going too much into it for fear of being off-topic, Japan underwent its simplification of characters in 1945 -- earlier than Chinese. Because of this, it has a few different forms. Simplified chinese has a lot of the same simplifications, but equally there are a few divergences every now and again. 黒 is an example where Japan changed the character from 黑, and Chinese never did.

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    The most radically different character between the different forms in my opinion is 龍, which is 竜 in Japanese, and 龙 in 简体. And for all of this, I think people in all countries tend to be able to read the traditional 龍 without much of a hitch. – sqrtbottle Jun 2 '15 at 23:38

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