I’ve come across kanji lately which have similar meanings to kanji I already know but look slightly different.

逢う – あう – to meet (with drama or pathos)
観る – みる – (oK) to view (i.e. flowers, movie)

Are the nuances different to 会う and 見る?


  1. 久しぶりです。
    Yes, the nuances are difference. 逢う and 観る have more specific uses. If you use windows (IME), the menu for selecting kanji candidates will tell you the differences if it has a little yellow dialogue box on the side. You just have to wait a couple seconds. (It’s in Japanese though)
    For example, for 遭う, it says 期せずしてあう「嵐にあう」 which means that it’s used for chance meetings.

  2. 久しぶりです!
    Thanks for the great tip. I had wondered what those boxes were but never really took the time to investigate. But you have to know a fair bit of kanji to read it, don’t you. Shame there are no English explanations ;(

  3. Hmn, not sure at all about 観る, but my ex used to write 逢う quite often, in a context no different from 合う. Whether this was done by mistake (doubtful), with a specific nuance intent, or just to be cute/different: I must admit I have no idea… But JEdict’s definition seems to say it is merely a more “heavy” kanji for exactly the same word…

  4. Hi there Dr D. Thanks for adding to the conversation. Your ex used 逢う for 合う? In the usage I first saw the kanji 逢う the meaning seemed to be that of 会う. As my dictionary said meet ‘with drama’ I just assume it means the same but just said with more passion, but I could be wrong.

  5. Really? I thought of it as another great way to learn more Japanese! 🙂
    I’d have to agree. 逢う is related more to 会う. It’s used when the meeting is significant like meeting your lover after being seperated for years or something like that.
    By the way, that site is great for asking detailed questions about Japanese.

  6. Yeah, your right, it is a useful way to learn more Japanese. I just get phased when I need to look up kanji just to understand the explanation I’m looking at.
    Thanks for the great link. Asking and answering questions… what a simple but brilliant idea for a site. I guess from your links “教えて!goo > ライフ > その他(ライフ) ” is the right category for Japanese questions?

  7. That one just happened to be in Life (I found it by searching) Most questions about Japanese are under:
    教えて!goo > 教育 > 国語

  8. Thanks a lot – I’ll make a small post in case others many find this useful, too.

  9. Darren,
    All the time, or at least a good 80% of the time, which led me to consider it a reasonably close replacement. We are definitely not talking meeting-after-10-years-apart stuff… ‘with drama’, as the dict puts it, may be slightly over-amplifying it… but gives an idea of the direction (probably some romantic or serious affectively involved context)… Yet another case where real conversation can’t be replaced by a dictionary…
    Then again, there is also the perfectly valid hypothesis that she’d be using it just to be more obscure. Something less unlikely than may seem, considering the glee she seemed to draw from throwing ridiculously complicated kanjis at me…

  10. In all of my (nearly) 3 years in Japan I never once saw this kanji in my e-mails, while 会う was used daily.
    The first time I saw 逢う came after I e-mailed someone in Japan to say that I wasn’t in Japan any longer. She used また逢いたい, so I’d be inclined to think it is normally used when meeting for some time is not possible – as Tae Kim points thinks.
    Perhaps your ex did like to mix up her kanji to keep you on your toes 😉