Is Japanese に (pronounced as "ni") related to the Chinese character 仁 (pronounced as "ren" in Chinese mandarin)?

Does the に have the root from the Chinese character 仁?

They both sound similar and look very similar.


1 Answer 1


Yes, the kana に is derived from the Chinese character ([漢字]{かんじ}, kanji) 仁. See also the English Wiktionary page and the Japanese Wikipedia page, among other references.

All kana derived from kanji. In fact, the word kana originally meant something like "provisional / borrowed + name / label" (from older kari na or 仮り名), in reference to the way that the kanji were borrowed and then used as labels for the sounds of Japanese.

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    I just found this correspondence: hana300.com/aakana.html maybe they should be more well-known.
    – wonderich
    May 13, 2021 at 23:19
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    @wonderich: For what it's worth, I've found that the English Wiktionary has good coverage of the individual kana and their origins, with explanations written in English. (Full disclosure: I'm an on-again-off-again editor and admin there, although I don't think I've edited any of the entries about the kana origins.) May 13, 2021 at 23:23
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    @wonderich I think this is one of those things that isn't taught directly, since it's not actually relevant to immediately understanding modern Japanese, but most people find out when they reach about intermediate level.
    – Leebo
    May 13, 2021 at 23:34
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    @wonderich, I'd also forgotten that the "History" section for the Wikipedia article on "Hiragana" includes a table showing the original kanji, cursive forms, and modern kana derivations. That provides a good quick overview. May 14, 2021 at 18:16

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