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I tried a quick search among similar questions but could not find exactly what I would like to know.

In Chinese, there is a huge dictionary called 汉语大词典 that covers more than 54600 characters (at least an edition printed in the '90s). Basically the whole set of existing Chinese characters, or at least a close approximation.

I was wondering, does something like that exist in Japanese as well? I am not talking about a list of 常用漢字 or something similar. I am wondering if there exists a comprehensive dictionary that, whether they are common or not, covers all the Chinese characters that have a Japanese reading and at least potentially could be used in Japanese as well.

I am sure the list is huge, and would be interesting to have such a reference (just think of all the kanji of animals, plants, and so on).

EDIT: After some comments I decided to edit the title. I know that there is no such thing as a "complete" kanji dictionary (neither in Chinese nor Japanese) since kanji are constantly evolving and new ones may be created. I was asking just for the "most comprehensive" source out there.

  • There's no such thing as a complete dictionary in Chinese either, by the way. People are still making new characters. – snailboat Jun 24 '16 at 1:58
  • Yes I know that. However, given the comments I decided to edit the title and the question just to make it clearer. – Tommy Jun 24 '16 at 2:35
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The English Wikipedia page on kanji claims that the Dai Kan-wa Jiten (大漢和辞典) (Wikipedia link) is "considered to be comprehensive in Japan" and "contains about 50,000 characters". (Side note: It also mentions an even bigger Chinese dictionary.)

  • Interesting, thank you. Might be what I was looking for, I will look into it better later. Thanks again. – Tommy Jun 23 '16 at 23:20
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There is a publication in Japanese called 漢字源{かんじげん} which may have the information you're looking for.

There is also a website that seems to be based on it here which has over 95,000 entries.

以下はハッタリ話。。。

More to the root of your question though, since Kanji is really a system of writing and not just a list of characters, I think you would need software to produce all possible Kanji.

Because it's a system, you can make new characters any time so long as they follow the rules of the system. And even then, if someone ever makes a new 部首 or something, it would just grow exponentially.

Now, if you wanted a list of all Kanji that actually have been used... I mean dag yo, that would be so big it would melt your face.

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    Supplemental Info: Unicode (the most widely used system of written language characters for computers) currently enumerates about 80,000 "CJK Unified Ideographs" which can be perused here: unicode.org/charts/unihangridindex.html – sazarando Jun 24 '16 at 1:44
  • Thanks for the answer. I know what you mean, and actually maybe I wasn't clear enough. I know there is no (there cannot be) such thing as a "complete" dictionary. I edited the question now, hope it's clearer that by "complete" I actually meant "most comprehensive". – Tommy Jun 24 '16 at 2:37
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I don't think there exist a 漢和辞典 to be called "COMPLETE" in Japan. Dictionaries evolve day by day. Perhaps you know that even the editing team of the Oxford English Dictionary has been adding 50 new words every day to the dictionary.

We don't need a egregiously voluminous dictionary for practical purpose, and I don't think you need to be versed with the meanings and usages of more than 54,600 characters unless you are a scholar of Chinese characters.

When I look for the meaning of 漢語, I'm used to consult "字源" compiled by a famous Chinese classicist and linguist, 簡野道明, and published by Hokushinkan in 1923. It's a long-selling 漢語辞典.

"字源" covers 10,681 basic Chinese characters and 73,369 漢語-derived idioms. The book (used one) is available for ¥6,480 through Amazon.

The other recommendation, though I don't own it by myself, is "字通" compiled by Dr.白河静 and published by Heibon-sha, which is also available for ¥10,800(new one) or ¥23,657 (big size) from Amazon.

  • Thank you for the references. Maybe you were replying as I was editing my question, just to make clear that I know there is no such thing as a "complete" kanji dictionary (there cannot be). That's why I also changed the title of the question. – Tommy Jun 24 '16 at 2:59
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All info about https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_characters I own a Taiwanese version of 中華字海 which is similar in character number to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhonghua_Zihai

(85,568)

But Morohashi Japanese Edition and its Taiwanese translation (10 volume set) is the most comprehensive and correct when definitions matter.

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