LINGUIST List 10.1965

Sun Dec 19 1999

Sum: for Query 10.1265 Kanji by Grade Level

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>


  1. Mark_Mandel, kanji by grade level (10.1265)

Message 1: kanji by grade level (10.1265)

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 13:16:25 -0500
From: Mark_Mandel <>
Subject: kanji by grade level (10.1265)

Way back in August I posted the following query in LINGUIST List 10.1265:

I understand that the Japanese government, perhaps the Ministry of
Education, not only has a list of which kanji a high-school graduate must 
know, but has these subdivided by grade level. Can anyone tell me how I could 
get a copy of the list, preferably in computer-readable format?

I received replies from Terry Joyce, Lynne Parmenter, "Hendrik", Jennifer
Spenader, and Anke de Looper. Unfortunately, some apparently very useful lists
of kanji were incorporated directly into email text, rather than being sent as
attachments, and did not survive transit across the Internet.

***Terry Joyce <> wrote:
I assume that you are referring to the official list of 1945 Joyo kanji,
which since introduced in 1981 have formed the standard for school

As far as I know, however, although students are expected to learn all these
kanji by the end of high school(plus another 1000 or so which are not
included in this list, but which are still fairly common in personal and
place names, and individual compounds), the division by grade only covers
the first 1006 gakushuu kanji which should be learned by end of elementary
school, i.e. the first 6 grades. If you do indeed find a classification by
grade beyond this level, please let me know. Recent survey of kanji in
newspaper by Yokoyama et al (1998) and some articles by this group provide
statistics concerning the percentage of the newspaper covered by the Joyo
kanji (something very high in the 90% with even the 1006 gakushuu kanji
covering something like 70%) (I could chase up thse references in full if
you are interested)

Although I have these listed by grade in a few sources to hand these are all
probably only easily available in Japan, such as small book from Shogakukan
(1989) listing the 1006 for elementary school aimed at children, one by
Kyoiku Shuppan (heisei 7 3 edition) aimed at teachers, and a couple of lists
in encyclopaedia-like references for kanji, all of these are paper
references only, and I am afraid I can not think of a list available on the
web where you can find these for certain (although I am sure there is
probably one out there somewhere).

However, from my own database (still I am afraid very much under
construction), I have listed these kanji below, in the hope that this will
be of some help (if you get no better advice elsewhere). The first number
is the order in the official Joyo list (according to the government
ordinance promulugating their issue), followed by the kanji itself, and then
a code for the grade level, i.e. 1-6 for the 6 grades of elementary school,
and 7 for general level kanji to be learned in junior-high and high school.

Unfortunately, the list of kanji was incorporated directly into email text,
rather than being sent as an attachment, and did not survive transit across the
Internet except in a form that I have not yet been able to decipher.

***Lynne Parmenter <> wrote:
This document is the Monbusho guidelines for Japanese at elementary school.
At the end, there is a list of kanji divided by grade.

Hope it's useful to you.

***Jennifer Spenader <> wrote:
If you go to most libraries or bookstores and look in the Japanese language
section you will invariably find a book which teaches the Kanji inte the
prescribed order, usually with a list in the preface/introduction telling
up to what number Kanji student should know at what grade level. There are
some free-ware programs for learning Kanji where you type in the upper
number of the Kanji you wish to practice, or where you type in the grade
level of the Kanji you wish to practice, so someone has programmed the
characters in computerized form according to these guidelines. Search the
net looking for "kanji tutorials" or something like that. If you're handy
with a computer you may be able to extract the list yourself. Otherwise,
you could try contacting the authors of the program.

I'm not sure what your aim is but you may also want to know that the grade
level teaching guidlines are not only for the kanji themselves. Some kanji
have up to 8 readings, so not all readings are taught at once. The
guidelines specify, for example, that character 54 should be introduced
with one reading at grade 2. In grade 4 readings 2 and 3 should be taught.
Texts like those mentioned above only present the character with all their
readings. In order to get a detailed course plan you probably need to
contact Monbusho, the Japanese Department of Education.

***Anke de Looper <> wrote:
The Joyo 96 website has a lot of information on Japanese (language, Kana,
Kanji) and clickable charts of at least Kanji Grades 1 and 2.

My thanks to all respondents, and my apologies for the long delay in sending
this summary.

 Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist and Manager of Acoustic Data : Dragon Systems, Inc.
 320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA :
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