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What is the official Japanese kanji dictionary?

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Quick Answer

There is no official dictionary for all Japanese kanji. However, the Dai Kan-Wa Jiten is a standard dictionary that covers most kanji, containing over 50,000 characters. There is also a small official subset of kanji known as joyo kanji, which is taught in Japanese schools.

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Full Answer

The term joyo kanji literally means "regular-use Chinese characters" and, as of 2015, comprises a list of 2136 kanji that are taught to Japanese schoolchildren. English-speaking students learning Japanese for daily life or understanding government documents often learn this subset first, because these kanji are most common.

The Dai Kan-Wa Jiten contains over 50,000 kanji characters. There are also more modern Chinese character dictionaries designed for English-speaking students, such as The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary and The New Japanese-English Character Dictionary.

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