I have learnt that there is a name for kanji that were invented in Japan - kokuji. Most of them only have KUN reading and do not have ON reading.

I know there are kanji that only have ON reading(s) and do not have KUN reading. However, I found myself struggling to find in the Internet the name for such kanji. 展 is probably a good example of such kanji, isn't it?

The reason I'm asking is that I hope it might make life a bit easier if I learnt kanji with only one reading separately from kanji with both KUN and ON readings.

Thanks a lot.

  • 2
    展 does have a KUN reading, のびる and つらねる even though those may not be very commonly used readings. However, the most common kanji that you will encounter will definitely have both Kun and On readings. I think, speaking from my own experience learning kanji as a nonnative speaker, it is best to learn both readings simultaneously. But, I wouldn't try to learn individual characters. I'd focus on learning them from the words/compounds they commonly occur in. Then, you'll be learning combinations of kanji and hone your intuition for how to read a particular kanji in a particular context.
    – A.Ellett
    Feb 22, 2016 at 22:05
  • I think those readings can be considered more-or-less historical, and learners of Modern Japanese don't need to learn them.
    – user1478
    Mar 4, 2016 at 19:42
  • As seen in A.Ellett's comment, there's no "kanji that only have ON reading" in true meaning. All kanji theoretically fall under those have, had or yet to have kun'yomi. Mar 19, 2016 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


I believe that the term you are looking for is 外字 However this term is generic in which it refers to any written characters that lack a Japanese reading

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