What's the Longest Kanji?

Earlier tonight my flatmate jokingly asked if there were any kanji that had seven-kana readings, so that he could write a haiku that was just one character per line. I suspected the answer was no, but of course couldn’t say for sure. However, the longest kanji-readings I know are cases like かみなり, where a compound Japanese word (かみ + り) just happened to have a single corresponding Chinese character. Since most non-compound Japanese words are 1-3 kana long, it would be very hard to get to seven in a single kanji.

Today’s NaCreSoMo creation is a little program (written in Swift, of course) that reads in data downloaded from kanjidatabase.com and prints out the kanji with the longest readings. It found just four kanji with five-kana readings from the Jōyō kanji (an official list containing the most common 2000 or so kanji and compounds):

志: こころざし (ambition, resolution, kindness)
政: まつりごと (?, does not seem to be used)
詔: みことのり (a decree, “an imperial edict”)
承: うけたまわ-る (to attend to <something>)

This doesn’t prove there are none with seven—in fact, since these are only the top 2000 kanji, there are probably many more with five—but it does give me enough to write a haiku:


承って

Determination
Do be attending to it
A proclamation

This post was maybe one hour of solution and then one hour of writeup and wondering why my blog software wasn’t rendering correctly. Time to go to sleep!

Part of NaCreSoMo 2017. Join us!

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