Sign reading "umbrella stand" (仐おき, kasa-oki, standard form 傘おき, showing ryakuji form of 傘: 仐 (人 + 十), with inner 人 omitted. Compare simplified Chinese 伞.
Sign reading "umbrella stand" (仐おき, kasa-oki, standard form 傘おき, showing ryakuji form of : ( + ), with inner omitted. Compare simplified Chinese .
Price tag reading ¥400, 特価品 (bargain item), showing ryakuji form of 品, with bottom squares connected.
Price tag reading ¥400, 特価品 (bargain item), showing ryakuji form of , with bottom squares connected.
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In Japanese language, Ryakuji (Japanese: 略字 "abbreviated characters", or 筆写略字 hissha ryakuji, meaning "handwritten abbreviated characters") are colloquial simplifications of kanji.


Ryakuji are not covered in the Kanji Kentei, nor are they officially recognized (most ryakuji are not present in Unicode). However, some abbreviated forms of hyōgaiji (表外字, characters not included in the tōyō or jōyō kanji lists) included in the JIS standards which conform to the shinjitai simplifications are included in Level pre-1 and above of the Kanji Kentei (e.g., , ), as well as some other allowances for alternate ways of writing radicals and alternate forms. Some ryakuji were adopted as shinjitai.

Some simplifications are commonly used as special Japanese typographic symbols. These include:

Of these, only for and for are generally recognized as being simplifications of kanji characters.

Replacements of complex characters by simpler standard characters (whether related or not) is instead a different phenomenon, kakikae. For example, in writing 年齢43歳 as 年令43才 (nenrei 43 sai "age 43 years"), is replaced by the component and is replaced by , in both cases with the same pronunciation but different meanings. The replacement of by is a graphic simplification (keeping the phonic), while and are graphically unrelated, but in both cases this is simply considered a replacement character, not a simplified form. Other examples include simplifying 醤油 shōyu (soy sauce) to 正油.

Compare this to simplified Chinese.


Ryakuji are primarily used in individual memos, notes and other such forms of handwriting. Their use has declined in recent years, possibly due to the emergence of computer technology and advanced input methods that allow equally fast input of both simple and complex characters. Despite this, the ryakuji for (mon, kado; gate) and for characters using the radical are still widely used in handwriting.[1]

Abbreviations for multiple-character words or phrases

In all cases discussed in the other sections of this article, individual characters are simplified, but separate characters are not merged. There are rare cases of single-character abbreviations for multiple-character words or phrases, such as for 圖書館, 図書館 toshokan, "library", but this is very unusual; see polysyllabic Chinese characters for this phenomenon in Chinese, where it is more common.


Some widely used ryakuji
Some widely used ryakuji


Of these, several are commonly seen in signs: (2), (8), (12) are very commonly seen, particularly simplifying in store signs, while (1) and (5) are also relatively common, as is 𩵋 for (as in (3)). Other characters are less commonly seen in public, instead being primarily found in private writing.

Further examples

Omitting components is a general principle, and the resulting character is often not a standard character, as in 傘→仐.

If the resulting character is a standard character with the same reading (common if keeping the phonetic), this is properly kakikae instead, but if it is simply a graphic simplification (with a different reading) or the resulting character is not standard, this is ryakuji. One of the most common examples is for haba "width". Often the result would be ambiguous in isolation, but is understandable from context. This is particularly common in familiar compounds, such as in the following examples:

In some cases, a component has been simplified when part of other characters, but has not been simplified in isolation, or has been simplified in some characters but not others. In that case, simplifying it in isolation can be used as common ryakuji. For example, is used in isolation, but in compounds has been simplified to , such as to . Using in isolation, such as when writing 新卒 shin-sotsu "newly graduated" as 新卆, is unofficial ryakuji. As another example, has been simplified to in some characters, such as to , but only to in isolation or other characters. Thus simplifying the in (bottom part ) to is found in ryakuji.

More unusual examples come from calligraphic abbreviations, or more formally from printed forms of calligraphic forms: a standard character is first written in a calligraphic (草書, grass script) form, then this is converted back to print script (楷書) in a simplified form. This is the same principle as graphical simplifications such as 學→学, and of various simplifications above, such as 第→㐧. A conspicuous informal example is 喜→㐂 (3 copies of the character for 7: ), which is rather frequently seen on store signs. Other examples include 鹿→𢈘; and replacing the center of with two , as in the bottom of . has various such simplifications. In Niigata (新潟), the second character is rare and complex, and is thus simplified as 潟→泻(氵写).

Derived characters

Derived characters accordingly also have derived ryakuji, as in these characters derived from :

Similarly, the 魚→𩵋 simplification is often used in fish compounds, such as sushi, particularly in signs.

Phonetic simplifications

Some ryakuji are simplified phono-semantic characters, retaining a radical as semantic and replacing the rest of the character with a katakana phonetic for the on reading, e.g., (20 strokes) may be simplified as (semantic) + (phonetic gi for on reading):

Another example is , replacing the by so.

This may also be done using Latin characters; for example, the character (as used in 憲法 kenpō, "constitution") may be simplified to "宀K": the radical placed over the letter K; this is particularly common in law school. Similarly, 慶應 (Keiō) as in Keio University may be simplified to "广K广O": the letters K and O respectively placed inside the radical 广. In this case the pronunciation of "KO" (as an initialism) sounds like the actual name "Keiō", hence the use.

The character has a number of ryakuji, as it is a commonly used character with many strokes (16 strokes); in addition to the above phono-semantic simplification, it also has a number of purely graphical simplifications:

See also


  1. ^ "常用漢字表の字体・字形に関する指針(報告)について" (PDF). Agency for Cultural Affairs. p. 73. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
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