I was wondering why the Japanese character for hashi (はし) (箸), seems to have an extra character stroke when compared to the Chinese character zhu4 (箸).

In both Japanese and Chinese, this character, represents, chopsticks.

However, in Japanese, the extra character stroke (the single dash, downwards and ti the left) can be found above the "sun" subcharacter, which is rì (日) in Chinese, and hi (ひ) (日) in Japanese.

This can only be seen in the Pleco dictionary. When I cut and paste the entry from Pleco into Chrome, the extra dot is added.

Why is this?

(The entries below are from the Takoboto and Pleco dictionaries on Android).

chopsticks in Japanese

chopsticks in Chinese

sun in Chinese

sun in Japanese

Why is this?

2 Answers 2


In 者 as a component, the form with an additional dot (者) is the one considered 'orthodox' in the sense it appears in the Kāngxī Dictionary. This does not mean that it is somehow more etymologically correct compared to the dot-less form; as most of these 'orthodox' forms, this one was created by the authority of the Shuōwén jiězì, which assumed the character to contain 白 (to my knowledge, actually the character 者 developed from a pictogram of a sugarcane, originally writing the word *tAk-s 'sugarcane' and borrowed for the similarly pronounced grammatical particle *tAʔ > zhě, so there is no 白 in the character).

However, in most of the regions, the dot-less form was more prevalent despite the injunctions of the normative dictionaries, and in modern times it was the one that was standardized. In fact, 者 without a dot is the normal Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnamese form. Only Korea insists on having a dot (but even Korea is not willing to follow the prescription of normative dictionaries to the extreme and demand the lower component to be an 曰 instead of an 日).

Local versions of 者

However, Japan was different here: while any other region standardized into one option or the other, Japan picked both. In fact, it decided to 'simplify' (pick the dot-less form) for a limited number of characters (basically, those that were a part of jōyō kanji list before the extension of 2010) but 'not simplify' (have a dot) for all the rest. So, now there is a distinction between the spellings for the 'frequent' and the 'remaining' characters in Japan.


者 as component in Japan

So, in fact, currently the correct orthography in Japan contains the dot for two particular jōyō kanji, 賭 and 箸, which were both added to the list in 2010 only.

The non-jōyō characters are supposed to be written all with a dot, as if 'unsimplified', though for the characters allowed in personal names both forms are provided, like 猪 and 猪, and even the jōyō characters without a dot are allowed in a dot form when in names: 者.

All of this is about printed text. In manual writing, no dot:

者 in handwriting


The "why" is that once upon a time, Chinese characters were written with a much greater degree of variation than today.

When each polity that uses Chinese characters decided to standardise (for a variety of purposes, including printing, digitisation, education etc), somebody had to choose one (or at most a few) of these variations to represent the abstract character. Note that this sometimes overlaps with, but is not strictly the same as the concept of simplification in CJK scripts. Check out this list on Wikipedia for other examples of variations between Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, (marginally Vietnam), Korea, and Japan's chosen representations.

Sometimes the changes are small (the top-right of 過 faces the other side in Chinese typographic practice), and sometimes they are reasonably large (as in 真).

Different polities chose differently, leading to differences like you've observed. That's why we have Han unification in CJK(V) computing.

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