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What is the most complex kanji (in terms of number of strokes), whether or not it's actually used often?

  • 4
    Not specific to Japanese, but there's some information in the "rare and complex characters" section of the Wikipedia article for Chinese characters. – cypher Apr 26 '12 at 12:56
9

That really depends what you mean by "kanji". Remember that kanji are derived from Chinese characters of which there are not a defined number.

The 常用 (general use) kanji set is the one prescribed for education in schools and treated as a "safe" list to use in newspapers and other publications. The 常用 kanji with the most strokes is currently (as noted by atlantiza), with 29 strokes. However according to the usage stats given by KanjiDic2 it is not one of the 2500 most used kanji in newspapers, so while it's taught in school it would be likely be considered as a "tricky" kanji.

The 常用 kanji that does feature in the 2500 most-used by newspapers is , which KanjiDic2 places at the 1391st most commonly used kanji in newspapers, basically meaning all literate Japanese will know it.

Outside of general use it's a lot less difficult to define, as there are many classical kanji that very few people would know today, so the "one with the most strokes" really just depends on how much you want to search. For example, in KanjiDic2 it appears to be , with 34 strokes. This is not a widely-used kanji and much less likely to be recognised by the average person.

  • 3
    I'm just gonna throw this in for trivia value: たいと (you can find it at Wikipedia). Undeniably on the Japanese side of the line, 84 strokes. – Matt Apr 25 '12 at 21:05
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    @Matt That's a really nice find, probably worthy of its own answer. (wikipedia link for anyone interested.) – ジョン Apr 25 '12 at 21:17
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    @ジョン Huh, you CAN do links in comments! Thanks. I don't think it's worth an answer, though, since as you say it really depends on how much you want to search. I'm sure someone, somewhere has proposed a kanji made of three "taito" (a la 晶 made of three 日s); would that then be the winner? If we're restricting ourselves to "real" kanji, is "taito" really real? (Wikipedia offers no evidence supporting this proposition, and some against it.) As your answer explains, it's like asking what the longest word in English is: the answer depends on how you define the set of acceptable candidates. – Matt Apr 26 '12 at 0:04
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    @LucasTizma Close, but the company is pronounced タイトー, not たいと ;) – ジョン Apr 26 '12 at 21:13
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    Although it may not be in the top 2500 kanji in that particular newspaper corpus, 鬱 is actually a relatively common kanji. Compare this frequency list. I think it's reasonable to expect that everyone can read 鬱, and some people (but not all) can write it. – snailboat Aug 10 '14 at 9:08
5

The kanji of the koseki register, i.e. kanji that were registered as part of a name, are publicly accessible here.

Here is a list of the kanji by stroke count that are registered as part of someone's name. I can't say how often they are used, but at least they are not all just a figment of someone's imagination (or if they were, they at least managed to get them officially registered).

I list the stroke count (X画) and separated them by kun'yomi (all kanji with 30 or more strokes) and on'yomi (all kanji with 40 or more strokes). There are many kanji with on'yomi only, and many of these were probably registered as part of a name from a naturalized foreigner with kanji name.


音読み

テツ、テチ
テツ、テチ
64画
セイ
セイ
64画
ホウ、ビョウ
ホウ、ビョウ
52画
ドウ
ドウ
48画
トウ
トウ
48画
トウ、ドウ
トウ、ドウ
48画
フウ
フウ
46画
オウ
オウ
45画
コツ (風忽)
コツ
44画
セイ (性)
セイ
44画
ジン
ジン
43画
ユウ、ユ
ユウ、ユ
43画
ウツ、ウチ
ウツ、ウチ
41画
タイ
タイ
40画

シ
40画
ライ
ライ
40画


訓読み

いわくら
いわくら
53画
ソ、ゾ、あらい
ソ、ゾ、あらい
33画
はためく
はためく
33画
あら
あら
32画
おおたか
おおたか
31画
しじくへ
しじくへ
31画
くくわけなく
くくわけなく
30画
すばしり
すばしり
30画
カク、つる (鶴)
カク、つる
30画
ぼら
ぼら
30画
やがら
やがら
30画

  • 1
    Welp, that's a lot better than my answer from 2012 :) – ジョン Feb 11 '17 at 11:09
  • @ジョン Oh, thanks. Still, I think it's good to have an answer that answers the question for commonly used kanji. – Earthliŋ Feb 11 '17 at 12:28
  • I'd kill my parents if they named me with any of those kanji. Haha. – user1316 Feb 13 '17 at 20:22
  • @LucasTizma These kanji are (for the most part) not contained in the jinmeiyō kanji (in Japan), so the only way to get a name with these kanji would be (1) to be born as the child of a Japanese citizen with a family name containing one of these, or (2) to be born as the child of someone Chinese (or Taiwanese, etc.) and be naturalized in Japan. – Earthliŋ Feb 13 '17 at 23:04
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For common (常用) kanji, I think 鬱 has the most strokes - 29. It is probably not as common as 鑑, but it's not exactly rare either. It's used in 憂鬱【ゆううつ】 (depression, the way you feel after writing that kanji) and a lot of other emotion-filled words.

And for archaic ones, I've also heard that 䯂 has the most strokes - 34. It's so uncommon these days though that it's not even in my online dictionary.

  • Just found that one in my dictionary ><. I was surprised to see it in 常用 as I mostly see it written in hiragana (a la うつ病) – ジョン Apr 25 '12 at 18:38
0

鸞 ラン. That's a character with 30 strokes, but I think there's bigger...

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