Upon looking for ways on how to start learning kanji, I have found that many people recommend learning the radicals first.

After exposing myself to the radicals, I plan on practicing by spotting them in kanji in texts. Although I can use the Internet, I prefer things I can hold (books, newspapers, magazines, etc...), but there are no Japanese "things I can hold" near where I live!

There is, however, a Chinese supermarket I frequently visit and it has tons of free newspapers. So my question is, can I use these newspapers for my practice on spotting radicals and maybe learning some new kanji OR is learning "Japanese" from a Chinese newspaper a bad idea?

EDIT: I know about the ON and the KUN-readings of kanji, but I am not concerned about them yet. I just want to know whether majority of the kanji in Chinese texts are also found in Japanese texts.

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    If you are going to scan news for this purpose, you might as well use Japanese news so you can get peripheral benefits like getting passively 'used' to the look and feel of Japanese writing, etc. If your main worry is availability/cost, many big name Japanese papers post some articles online for free, and japantimes has both English and Japanese articles online. Jul 23, 2016 at 6:16

2 Answers 2


It is not a good idea to learn Japanese Kanji reading Chinese newspapers. Of course, a majority of Chinese characters used both in China and Japan have same or similar meanings, however, the grammar and syntax of Chinese are completely different from those of Japanese and I don't see any benefit coming out of reading Chinese newspapers unless you want to get yourself familiarized with Chinese characters.

According to the Wikipedia article on Kanji, a lot of Kanji used in Japanese are simplified Kanji and they look different from Chinese Kanji.

In 1946, following World War II and under the Allied Occupation of Japan, the Japanese government, guided by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers instituted a series of orthographic reforms. This was done with the goal of facilitating learning for children and simplifying kanji use in literature and periodicals. The number of characters in circulation was reduced, and formal lists of characters to be learned during each grade of school were established. Some characters were given simplified glyphs, called shinjitai (新字体?). Many variant forms of characters and obscure alternatives for common characters were officially discouraged.

The linked article on The Difference between Japanese and Chinese Characters explains:

Many Japanese people think when traveling to a Chinese-speaking region that even if they do not speak Chinese, they may be able to get by if they communicate by writing. If you are trying to convey something simple, written communication might allow you to get by. However, it is important to remember that 20-30% of the kanji used have different meanings in Japanese and Chinese. What would happen if you wrote a succession of kanji, which look the same in Chinese, without being aware that they mean something different in Chinese? Not only would your meaning not get across, you may also bring about a misunderstanding. Therefore, much care must be taken when resorting to writing kanji to communicate with a Chinese-language speaker.


I think you shouldn't learn Japanese Kanji by Chinese texts.

There are some difference between Japanese kanji and Chinese kanji.

For example, Japanese kanji has Kun-readings as you say, and some kanji have different meaning but same character, and there are Chinese kanji which isn't Japanese kanji.


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