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Honju (漢字) is the Surean name for Chinese characters that are used in the modern Surean logographic writing system along with Enzoju (エンゾジュ, 音字), Arabic numerals, and the occasional use of the Latin alphabet (also known as Romaju).

Since honju never underwent any reform, they are entirely identical to traditional Chinese and kyūjitai characters. By contrast, many of the Chinese characters currently in use in Japan (kanji), Korea (hanja) and Mainland China have been simplified, and contain fewer strokes than the corresponding honju characters.


The first dynasty founded in Surea was the Yuan Dynasty. The founders of the dynasty were originated from Mainland China. Better equiped weapons and knowledges were brought along with them to the Surean archipelago. Chinese texts were one of the items they brought to Surea.

Honju was the sole means of writing Surean until Shugojong the Great promoted the invention of enzoju in the late 15th century. However, even after the invention of enzoju, most Surean text continued to write in honju.


Similar to their Chinese counterpart, a single honju may be used to write one or more different words (or, in most cases, morphemes). From the point of view of the reader, honju are said to have one or more different "readings". Deciding which reading is meant depends on context, intended meaning, use in compounds, and even location in the sentence. Some common honju have ten or more possible readings. These readings are normally categorized as either hon'enkun (or hon) or gai'enkun (or gai).


The Hon'enkun (本音訓), is the native reading based on the pronunciation of a native Surean word that closely approximated the meaning of the Chinese character. As with gai'enkun, there can be multiple hon readings for the same honju, and some honju have no hon'enkun at all.

For instance, the honju for east, 東, has the gai reading dong. However, Surean already had a word for "east": Hakari. Thus the honju 東 had the latter reading added as hon'enkun. In contrast, the honju 寸, denoting a Chinese unit of measurement (slightly over an inch), has no native Surean equivalent; it only has a gai'enkun, sun, with no native hon reading.

In a number of cases, multiple honju were assigned to cover a single Surean word. Typically when this occurs, the different honju refer to specific shades of meaning. For instance, the word アルス, arusu, when written 治, means "to heal an illness or sickness". When written 修 it means "to fix or correct something". Sometimes the distinction is very clear, although not always. Differences of opinion among reference works is not uncommon; one dictionary may say the honju are equivalent, while another dictionary may draw distinctions of use. As a result, native speakers of the language may have trouble knowing which honju to use and resort to personal preference or by writing the word in enzoju.


The Gai'enkun (外音訓) the Sino-Surean reading, is a Surean approximation of the Chinese pronunciation of the character. Such as the character 働 "to work", which has the Hon'enkun hadaki and the gai'enkun dong, and 腺 "gland", which has only the gai'enkun sen.

When to use which reading[]

Although there are general rules for when to use hon'enkun and when to use gai'enkun, the language is littered with exceptions, and it is not always possible for even a native speaker to know how to read a character without prior knowledge.

Pronunciation assistance[]

Because of the ambiguities involved, honju sometimes have their pronunciation for the given context spelled out in ruby characters known as natsuju, (small enzoju written above or to the right of the character). This is especially true in texts for children or foreign learners and banwa (comics). It is also used in newspapers for rare or unusual readings and for characters not included in the officially recognized set of essential honju.


Every Surean high schools offers a subject specifically for honju, apart from the normal Surean language curriculum. Formal honju education begins in grade 4 (4th year of primary school) and continues until graduation from senior high school in grade 12. A total of 9,000 honju are taught: 3,000 for primary school, 3,000 for middle school, and 3,000 for high school. Post-secondary honju education continues in some liberal arts universities.

Total number of honju[]

The number of possible characters is disputed. The Kisenjong Juden contains about 60,000 characters, and this was thought to be comprehensive, but more recent mainland Chinese dictionaries contain 80,000 or more characters, many consisting of obscure variants. Most of these are not in common use in either Surea or China.