Go to: Introduction, GSF Index, Stroke Count Index, Radical Index, Reading Index.

2013 GSF Jouyou Kanji by Con Kolivas

Con Kolivas 22nd February 2013 email: con@kolivas.org


This document was created with a number of goals in mind. It was designed primarily as a learning aid for the mastery of Japanese kanji in the most efficient manner possible. The document itself is no more than an extensive list, but the list itself was created to be a prompt for a suggested order to learn the kanji themselves, and to aid that learning. It was also designed to be a reference document of sorts which could be used to look up kanji in many different ways. This version is assembled as a series of separate HTML files for each kanji making it suitable for quick lookup with minimal bandwidth usage. It also includes stroke order diagrams and animation where they are available. A single HTML file version is also available. The extensively hyperlinked nature of the document means that quick lookup of compound kanji members, kanji related by radicals or stroke count and so on is possible. This document remains a work-in-progress, and will be periodically updated online so check the date of the last modification to see which version you are reading.

The Jouyou Kanji List

The Jouyou kanji list defined by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan describes the official "Kanji for common use". This is a list of kanji which is expected to be known by all high school leaving students in Japan, and is the list by which mainstream media limits its use of kanji without phoenetic elaboration in the form of furigana. This means that characters in this list will be seen in newspapers and magazines and on television without the need for explanatory phoenetic guides except for when they are used in uncommon ways. Conversely, it means that the huge number of possible kanji that are not in this list must have these phoenetic guides. The practical aspect of this list is that it is the core kanji someone needs to learn to be able to read most normal media.

The version of the Jouyou kanji list in this list contains the year 2010 revised number of characters by the Cultural Council, which comes to a total of 2136 kanji.

About the 2013 GSF Jouyou Kanji List

The title of this list refers to the year and sort algorithm used when it was generated. The algorithm was one devised by the author, Con Kolivas, to optimise the speed with which kanji are learnt, and their relevance when attempting to read native Japanese. GSF refers to the 3 variables used in sorting the primary list, Grade, Stroke and Frequency.

The grade level refers to what grade level the kanji themselves are taught in Japan, where a 2nd grader would be learning grade 2 kanji and so on. This is used as the primary "cluster" for grouping the kanji, so the first 80 are all grade 1 kanji. The 2nd sort variable is the stroke count. Kanji within each group cluster are ordered from simplest to most complex (lowest to highest stroke count) when that complexity has yet to be encountered numerically in the list. i.e., the grade 1 kanji start at 1 stroke and work their way up to 12 strokes. The grade 2 kanji, however, are not sorted by stroke count until the stroke count is 13 or more. The final variable in sorting them is the frequency of use of the kanji in modern communication. Previous frequency lists were based on freely available old lists generated by counting occurrence of the kanji in a newspaper. These lists are outdated and heavily biased towards newspaper text. The author used media on the internet in 2013, in conjunction with the help of the Google [tm] search engine to develop a much more modern list. This list was last updated February 22nd 2013.

By combining the 3 sort variables, the list thus generated orders the kanji numerically such that learning them in that order means one will learn them from the easiest, most often used kanji, to the hardest, most infrequently used.

To further aid the learning process, sample compound kanji are presented in a carefully chosen manner as well. The other kanji in each compound were selected as much as possible to be recently learnt ones in the GSF list, thus aiding the "frequent repetition" required to memorise kanji. When a limited number of compounds was available with recently learnt kanji, kanji that are closest in the list ahead are chosen. Frequently used words were then listed ahead of infrequent ones. Thus the sample compound kanji will aid learning through one of the most well-known techniques for memorising: graduated interval recall.

This list is a work in progress and the main text was generated via computer software on existing data, and the compound list will slowly be improved for brevity, clarity and consistency.

Go to: Introduction, GSF Index, Stroke Count Index, Radical Index, Reading Index.