The question is very simple: how many kanji there are that have a 'unique' ON-reading, not shared by any other kanji? Or, as it is probably a too general question given the variety of kanji: how many one-kanji ON-readings exist in the Joyo list? Do any of those readings gain additional kanji if we start to consider Jinmeiyo-kanji / non-Joyo-kanji / non-standard readings? Tricky readings like [頁]{ページ} or [糎]{センチメートル} are excluded.

Example, which I know: the チャ reading is only with 茶 while we are in Joyo, but if we extend our search, there are at least 茗 and 楪 which share the same.

  • Interesting question, I wonder if the scope of the question might get to be a little broad (I'm not an expert on kanji). Are you digging for something specific? – ajsmart May 24 '18 at 17:31
  • 「チャ」cannot be an on’yomi for「茗」or「楪」- that is not their Chinese-derived pronunciation. Those two may have been used as synonyms for「茶」, so this is a case where the characters have a kun’yomi (「ちゃ」) which is from the on’yomi of another character. – droooze May 25 '18 at 0:18

According to a list in this answer, there are 65 joyo-kanji which have a unique on-reading (in the sense of "has a reading not shared by other kanji"). They include 茶. Since even easy joyo-kanji have some nonstandard/rare readings which are not covered by all dictionaries, the number should vary depending on the method. For example, the list says 条 has a unique on-reading デキ, but I don't know when 条 can be read like that. Also note that the list seems a bit old. The list says ボッ is unique to 坊, but it's no longer true since 勃, a kanji recently included in the joyo list, can be read as ボッ, too. 鬱 (ウツ) is now a joyo kanji, and probably has a unique on-reading.

  • The list says 条 has a unique on-reading デキ, but I don't know when 条 can be read like that This is a [反切]{はんせつ} reconstruction of the character「滌」(徒歷切, i.e. imperfectly reconstructed due to sound shifts [徒]{ト} + [歷]{レキ} = テキ).「条」(or rather, Kyūjitai「條」) was substituted for the character「滌」in the Rites of Zhou - i.e. obscure, and you can safely discard the reading デキ as having almost no practical value. – droooze May 26 '18 at 1:43

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