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Is there a difference between 变 and 変 or are they different versions of the same thing i.e. traditional/simplified?

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19

They are both slightly different simplifications of the traditional Chinese character which is 變.

变 is the simplified Chinese and 変 the shinjitai, i.e. the Japanese simplification.

Often the simplifications are the same, but it also often happens that traditional Chinese characters have slightly different simplifications in Chinese and Japanese, for example

simplified Chinese ← traditional Chinese → simplified Japanese

  • 亚 ← 亞 → 亜
  • 压 ← 壓 → 圧
  • 围 ← 圍 → 囲
  • 驿 ← 驛 → 駅
  • etc.

Also sometimes Simplified Chinese has a simplification where Japanese has none (e.g. 东 ← 東) and sometimes Japanese has a simplification where Simplified Chinese has none (e.g. 壹 → 壱).

Moreover, it may happen that certain characters are treated as being the "same", but their renderings in Japanese and Chinese are slightly different, e.g.

simplified Chinese ← traditional Chinese ~ "traditional Japanese" → simplified Japanese

  • 缘 ← {{zh-CN:緣}} ~ {{ja:緣}} → 縁

where "traditional Japanese" is just a nickname for 旧字体 ky­ūjitai. (By the way, displaying different regional variants of the same character can be achieved using language codes as described here on meta.)

You can usually look this up in any 漢和辞典, but a quick way to check this would be on the Wiktionary page, for example for the character in question it would be https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/变.

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