What’s the difference between kanji and hanzi?

Q: I’ve been following your posts recently. They turned out to be quite interesting. Your todayś note for example on not knowing how the characters will appear on oneś screen and that you have the kanji as hanji in Google-Chrome made me wonder whether I’ve found the source of why sometimes there are slight differences between how the kanji is written as a(n online) headword and then what comes as a result of a stroke order image series. I wonder if you could sum up some of the major differences. (There are some sites saying there isn’t any.) Is it in the radicals – Tibor

A:  Rather than the radicals, the main difference between kanji (the Chinese characters used in Japan) and Hanzi (the ones used in China) is that at many times people have tried to change them, usually to make them easier to write, and whilst some countries changed together, some did not.

I guess the easiest example of this is the symbol for “east”.   In Japan we write it as 東 reflecting how it was written when it first arrived in Japan a long time ago.  But in modern China they have simplified it to become 东.   e.g. Tokyo is 東京 in Japanese, but 东京 in modern mainland Chinese.

But it gets even more complicated as Hong Kong and Taiwan use “traditional” characters i.e. not the ones of communinist mainland China, but are still sometimes different to how you write them in Japan e.g.  Taiwan is written as 台湾 in Japan (and I think in mainland China), but as 台灣 in Taiwan.

So Japan uses a mixture of traditional characters and some simplified ones!

(Again this is hoping the browser you are using doesn’t mess up the characters!)

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