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If you’re learning Japanese, one of the first things you do is learn what your name is in Japanese. It’s great because it personalizes the language and gives you an identity in Japanese.

But sometimes there’s a little confusion about how to write your name in Japanese. Let’s look at the right and wrong way to write your name in Japanese.

Right: Katakana (カタカナ)

If you don’t know a lot about Japanese, katakana is one of the Japanese alphabets, and is used for writing foreign names in Japanese.

Foreign names are typically spelled out phonetically with katakana, so Chris becomes kurisu (クリス), Sarah becomes sēra (セーラ), and Michael becomes maikeru (マイケル). It’s usually very easy and straightforward.

Katakana

Image sources 1, 2, 3, 4.

Writing your name in katakana is awesome! The reading is obvious and people automatically know that it’s supposed to be a foreign name. Plus, you’re probably not the first person with your name to transliterate it into Japanese, so chances are there’s a standard way of writing your name in katakana that people are familiar with.

You can even pretty easily look up these standardized names on sites like this.

But for some people, writing their names in katakana isn’t enough. They want to go further and write their names in kanji but, for a number of reasons, this is a bad idea.

Wrong: Kanji (漢字)

Kanji are Chinese characters that are frequently used in Japanese. Each character has its own, sometimes complex meaning.

After learning how to write their name in katakana, some people want to write their names in kanji. I know that we at Tofugu talk a lot about how useful and great kanji is, but when it comes to writing your name, avoid kanji like the plague.

KanjiYou might think that writing your name in kanji is super cool and extra-Japanesey, but most of the time you’re really just making things harder for yourself and more importantly, other people.

Kanji By Sound

One way people recommend writing your name in kanji is by finding kanji with the same sounds as your name in katakana, but this is a bad idea for a couple of reasons.

If you’re picking kanji based on sound alone, then the meanings of these kanji will probably be really weird and completely unrelated to your name.

For example, if Chris decides to write his name like 躯里子, it will sound like kurisu, but the kanji mean “corpse foster child” which, in case you didn’t notice, is complete gibberish (or just really morbid).

The other problem is that pretty much every kanji has multiple readings, so somebody might look at your name and either have no idea how to pronounce it, or they’ll pronounce it differently than you intended.

In other words, writing your name by constructing kanji by sound will mostly just baffle other people and really not do you any good. And the other way of writing your name in kanji ain’t a whole lot better.

Kanji By Meaning

Another way people try to flip foreign names into kanji is by meaning. Every name, no matter what the language, has some sort of etymology, or story behind it. Some people think that by recreating that meaning or story with kanji, they can distill the essence of their names and transfer it over into Japanese.

This doesn’t work well either. If you’re constructing your kanji name based on meaning, then the reading probably won’t make any damn sense. Sure, you might have conveyed that Chris means “Christian martyr and patron saint of travelers,” but the Japanese probably won’t read all that as an actual name.

But Other People Have Kanji Names!

Some foreigners can have kanji names, but those are special cases. Since the Chinese and Korean both use kanji in their languages in some way or another, some Chinese and Korean names are able to use kanji.

And it is true that foreigners who become Japanese citizens typically have kanji names, but that’s kind of unrelated. They’re not using kanji for their foreign, given names; but rather, they’re adopting a wholly Japanese name and just using the kanji for that.

Be Proud Of Your Name

Writing your name in kanji is trying to make your name into something it isn’t. Instead of spending time trying to find the perfect kanji to create a name that nobody will understand, instead spend some time looking into your own name.

What’s its etymology? Why did your parents pick that particular name? The answers to these questions are a lot more rewarding than writing your name in kanji could ever be.

[Header image sources: 1, 2.]

  • トム ジェンセン

    Good article, cleared up that whole issue. 

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    But but but… Are you telling me I can’t use 越 as my first name? Oi. I will use it and you can’t stop me. かつ!

  • Flayer Marian

    Hello Tofugu,

    I am Japanese and therefore my English is certainly not good, but oh well, I hope you can understand it. First of all it is true that it is difficult to change one’s name from the alphabet to Kanji, but with some experience there are good possibilities. Most of them are surely not the trivial Japanese name and some people find it funny, however in the other hand it could be really cool. Also note that some Japanese parents give their children western names like “Leo” with the fitting Kanji 玲央.

    Here are more examples:
    Luna 流奈
    Tom 斗夢
    Mike 舞空

    These are indeed not a common name, but it wouldn’t sound for me to alien. But maybe you should avoid Kanjis likes these (if you are going for seriousness).

    Noel 聖夜
    Chris 水晶

    ^^ I like reading Tofugu even as a Japanese. Keep it up please.

  • Yager

    Thank you for bringing this up. Friends will ask me to write their name in Japanese and when I write in it katakana they’re always dissapointed and ask me why I can’t write it in the “cool way” (in kanji). I found it hard to explain but I can use this article as a reference now. Thanks! 

  • トム (斗夢?) ジェンセン

    Heh, thanks for that one. And your English made perfect sense to me ;)

  • lightroy

    Might be actually helpful to any novice getting into this for the first time, but I personally find the kanji counterpart more interesting.
    One should look up a kanji to use as such first by possible readings, and then by meaning (as normally you’ll find many possible kanji that can be used for the same sound). 

    Also, would have expected that you pointed out the existence of name-only readings for some kanji.

  • niyoels

    When I was in Kyoto, one of the temples (I think Kinkakuji or Ryoanji) had hanko for foreigners in their gift shops. They constructed names by sound as mentioned above and were pretty much gibberish. My own name had no meaning at all (probably because it has foreign sounds) and only one of the names I looked up had an appealing kanji composition. 

    Also, my Chinese friend asked me how to read her Chinese name in Japanese but that didn’t go over well. The kanji were uncommon in Japanese, especially in names, and the only decent reading I could come up with was a boy’s name. She wasn’t happy about that. I told her she should use the original Chinese reading even in Japanese. She wasn’t happy about that either haha

  • Willian Pestana

    My name is Willian. My teacher always write my name like this: ウィリアン, however this website that translates any name into katakana showed ウィラン. I wonder which one is more correct…
    Nevertheless, I like 「ウィリアン」 the best…

  • Beautifulworld

    I thought becoming a citizen of Japan would also allow you to use a Katakana name in place of your first name. it’s true, right? You don’t HAVE to adopt a kanji name, but at least a Katakana name?

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    Go with the best sounding variation or the one that you are happy with.

    I agree 「ウィリアン」sounds the best.

  • Anatanoshinigami

    Hashi, I want a name like yours.

  • Willian Pestana

    Yes, ウィリアン is more natural, I think.
    Thanks Viet!

  • HorrorChan

    Nice article. :D That should clear things up for people who want to write their names in Japanese. 
    I thought about writing my last name in katakana since I already know how to do my first. xD Since it’s Bartmann I’m totally unsure how to go about it. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1035678298 KianHong Khoo

    What if I have a Chinese name? Can I find the equivalent in Kanji? I would like to know how to pronounce my Chinese name in Japanese. ^^ 

  • hakuba_jen

    In July, though, the foreign registration system is changing and your hanko will be required to match your registered name, but katakana names are usually too long to fit. Therefore, a lot of residents are opting for a kanji names along with a registeted romaji name. It’s a bit of a しょうがない situation. :/

  • http://www.vietamins.com Viet

    Bartmann, huh? You aren’t related to The Bartmann of the Chicago Cubs controversy, are you? :P
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Bartman_incident

  • Mescale

    I broke that website, what a rubbish website, I can’t believe you linked a website that couldn’t find my name in Japanese.

    Lots of love

    メスカルです。

  • Mescale

    I still love you though.

    Lots of love

    メスカルです。

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000858852501 Luna Thalmensy

    Hey Hashi, my name is Luna wich means ‘moon’ in spanish. Do you think that traslate my name in kanji as ‘月’ is a good idea or should I keep the katakana translation ‘ルナ’ ?

  • Kyah

    My question is: which is more appropriate for foreign names, surname first or given name first? I’ve seen both but Im not sure what determines which order should be used.

  • Brandon Inoue

    It always used to irk me when I watched Japanese television and saw some people were foreign born Japanese (Nikkei-Jin) and their names were always spelled with Katakana.  My parents used to always say that it was because that regardless they are “Gaijin Tarento” and always have their names spelled with Kana instead of Kanji. 

    I got used to doing it when in Japan but it almost screams “Hi, I’m a foreigner!”  I guess I kind of thought of it like it was blowing my cover (lol).  I also knew a few 3rd or 4th generation Korean people living in Japan and they always used Kanji as their cover names.  It helps them get jobs and prevent discrimination.  One girl guarded it so much that she told me that she wouldn’t tell me her real Korean name because she didn’t want others to hear it.  I was the only person outside of her community that she had ever told she was ethnic Korean.  I guess she knew I would understand.

    As for my own name…
    My mom thought my first name was a strong warrior name (not by a long shot but English is her second language).  It was also distinctively American/Western.  When in Japan, only friends who are really close call me by my middle name Nobuyoshi (I can never remember the Kanji for it).  It’s taken from my Dad and Uncles’ first names, Shinobu and Yoshi.   The meaning of the name was secondary in importance (Compassion and Believer). 

  • Rowan

    What if your name (like mine) is made entirely of easily-translatable nouns? Is it vaguely acceptable for me to go by 西 山椒 (with ウェスト ロアン as furigana on my name card)? I’ve actually been wondering about this for a while, so I’m glad you posted this.

  • Flayer Marian

    ヴィリアン is also possible.

  • Travisnamewebster

    ありがとう はしくん

  • Stroopwafel

    I think, that when you want to make it super obvious for people your name is displaying given name first you should use a dot in between you given- and surname
    Like so… ジョン・レノン (John Lennon)
    By the way, can anyone tell me how to input such a dot? 
    I’m using the japanese input system on mac os,

    Also, Hashi, is that your actual name, or is it a pen name? Does it have a kanji reading? Doesn’t Hashi mean ‘chopstick?’

  • K Takashiro

    It would be best to stay with ルナ because that is your name, I don’t know if つき is used as a girl’s name in Japan, so keep things simple. Someone I know gave me a Japanesed name based on the spiritual roots of my name. Since Jaun, means God is gracious, I am Keisuke in Japanese and use the Kanji there.恵輔

  • mkrause

     バートマン probably works best.

  • Chris Lastnamerson

    Cool, a whole article about my name! I’d never even thought to write it in kanji before, I didn’t know that was a common thing to do.

  • デス子

     I don’t know if it’s the same on a Mac, but try the / key. It makes a ・ for me.

    …I don’t know why that rhymed…

  • ですこ

    I think the obvious middle ground is to write eryone’s names in ひらがな.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    My only advice would involve doing the Bartman, which is probably counterproductive

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jmhlyuxULI

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    What can I say Chris? You inspired me to write this whole post.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    月 is sometimes used as a girls name in Japanese, but I think I’d still use ルナ. I’m not really sure to be honest but like I said, you can never go wrong with katakana!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    My deepest apologies!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Thanks! I was partially inspired by your TF forum post.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Interesting, I didn’t know that! Thanks for commenting, and your English is quite good :)

  • Mescale

    Aww now I feel bad. Take that back!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Glad this could come in handy!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Honestly, I’m not sure. I do know some naturalized Japanese citizens adopt fully Japanese names, but I’m not too clear on how the process works. Sorry!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Step 1: have Japanese ancestors :P

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    I’d just go with katakana.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    “Hashi” is the first half of my surname. The kanji is 橋, and in this case it means “bridge.”

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Yup, it’s the / key on a Mac when using the Japanese IME.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    しょうがない indeed 

  • Stroopwafel

    You gave me a fair advice, 
    yet when I press the ‘ / ‘, a ‘ / ‘ still arise.

  • トム [斗夢?] ジェンセン

    Heh, you read that? Well Thanks for the article it was pretty helpful :D

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Interesting stories! I’ve got one related one to add:

    When I visited Japan with my family, we stayed at a hotel that put the guests’ names out in the front in kanji (since all the guests but us were Japanese). I was excited to see our name up in the front in kanji, but after one night of staying there, they erased the sign with our name on it and replaced it with a romaji spelling.

    It was both hilarious and kind of disheartening :

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    I’m always lurking the forums o_o

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Try using the spacebar to cycle through the different options. ・is the third option for the / key.

  • Stroopwafel

    I’m sorry, I’ll quit the crappy poetry.
    When I press the / key, it give me this /. Just a longer, slightly more tilted version of /.

  • Stroopwafel

    Thank you, now I now longer need to copy the ・ from wikipedia. 
    ア・リ・ガ・ト・ウ

  • Stroopwafel

    *no longer

  • :D

    Damnit all, I really wanted my name to be 女リス . My life no longer has any joy. :/

  • Aay4

    So my Chinese name is 安栄 and my last name is written 余。Would I write my full name as 余安栄 ? Does あんえい sound like a weird name in japanese? My english name is Andre and my chinese name is pronounced on-wing.

  • ZXNova

    It makes complete sense that you shouldn’t make your kanji name by sound (I feel bad for the people that actually got tattos, and Japan doesn’t even like tattos anyway!) But as for looking up names by meaning, there are some names that could possibly be roughly translated. Like my name (Bryant – variant of Brian – lit. Noble, High) would be 高貴 (Kouki, High, Noble), but I’m not sure if that name is really normal, or a liable name that could be used in Japan. There are people named Kouki in Japan, but they have different Kanji though. (光希 – Light, Hope | 幸輝 – Happiness, Radiance). What do you think?

  • <3

    What if you simply included furigana with your chosen Kanji name, to avoid confusion? Or is that cheating? =) 

  • ZXNova

    Anei means Shadowy Gloom… So yeah weird name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000440035746 Ikenna Ugwuegbulam

    I will admit I tried writing my name in kanji once and I absolutely hated it. My name is Nigerian and it translates to “Divine Power” or “God’s Power.” My main instinct was “Ooooh, I think 「神力」 would work!” and then I looked at the readings for each and said “Yeaaah, no.”  and stuck to my name in K-kana. Personally, I think 「イケンナ」 looks way better. :D

  • Jateku

    Haha…I’m no even going to try to write my name in Kanji (Because my name is originally Hebrew “יאשיהו”)Lol

    Isn’t your name originally Japanese?  You can jest write 橋 :D

  • ジョシュ (恕修?)

    I put some thought into it, and came up with Josh =  ジョシュ or maybe ジョシュウ, which then becomes 恕修… would this be acceptable? 恕 is jinmeiyou at least, and I really like the meanings… or should I just stick to kana? 

  • Jateku

    And my name is Josiah so would i write it like ジョサイア ジョザイア or ジョシア?

  • Willian Pestana

    Interesting, thanks!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    That’s an interesting workaround, but still doesn’t solve all the problems with a kanji name.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Probably just stick to katakana.

  • Meary Brown

    I am nisei and my American Dad named me Meary. In America everyone want to pronounce as Mary, but it is pronounce Japanese way with long e sound instead of short a sound. Thanks for interesting article! Please keep them coming!

  • モーガン、ローソン

    みなさんこにちは、ぼくのなまえはモーガンです。 Both my sensei and speech tutors (who are both native Nihonjin) said that it is ok to write your name as kanji, if the meaning suits you, and it can be read as the same sounds.  My sensei came up with this for my first name 猛頑。  I really like the meaning and connotations of the kanji.  I still write my name in katakana, cause personally i feel like writing the kanji is not only confusing for people, but also like im trying too hard to be Japanesey…  So the only time i EVER use that kanji is for signing my 書道, or any other sumi-e art i do.

  • Erick

    Increible article and some coments too! I understand why  you keep saying  that keep our names in katakana es the best way, It contains our identity, we cant change that, indeed we should be proud of that. In all the cases we could be curios, and a lot of us, go through all the way you mentions or any other, to get our name in kanji. But even if I get it, I would only have it for curiosity or to use it like a pen name!  

    I found this website that gives  your name in all the way posible, in my case tree ways of writing it in kanji and of curse katakana and hiragana. My name is Erick so got this http://goo.gl/zoaQ2

    Iam dealing with english and japanese at the same time, sorry if my english become misunderstood!! :^)

  • http://twitter.com/arleas_ Lee Rolfing

    Unfortunately for me, My name is rife with L’s and R’s and sounds that don’t translate well into Japanese.   I have a book that gives all sorts of kanji for names, and yeah, it doesn’t really work well… but I like one of the suggestions for mine:  利猪

    The book says it’s “clever boar” (I was born in the year of the boar).  Google says it’s “interest boar”  (which sounds like a mascot for a bank or something).

  • Gigatron

    Fortunately my real given name is a perfect homophone for an existing Japanese name (a fact noted to me by native speakers), so I will brazenly and unashamedly use the kanji for it. :P

    I refuse to use katakana, for my own personal reasons that will probably sounds stupid to everyone else, but are important to me.

    Plus my name likely has no etymology worth learning, and even if it did, it probably wouldn’t describe me accurately, so I have no interest in it.

  • Sgoss79

    What do you make of foreign names transcribed into Chinese then? They use characters for that, right? As long as the characters are selected with the help of a native speaker/experienced learner, I see no problem with picking a few kanji for one’s name even in Japanese (in addition to the “official” katakana transliteration). You seem to like Japanese names right, “Hashi”? 

  • purin

    I have a student with the same name (he is Brazilian-Japanese, living in Japan). He writes his name ウィリアン. All the teachers call him ウィリ. ;)

  • Taiishi

     I believe you need to have your surname in kanji, but given name can be in kana.

  • syrup16g

    You can write your “foreigner” name in Kanji. There are plenty of creative and accurate ways that work out nicely in Kanji. There are really no rules for 名乗り readings so you are free to assign whatever characters you want. Japanese has a long history of assigning kanji to words that otherwise wouldn’t use them. You can also look up how your name is usually translated in Chinese for reference, and if you have a name that would be found in the Bible or as a historical figure with a pre-determined reading that is fine too. As far as the meaning of the characters, it can also be arbitrary. If a girl’s name is 愛菜 (Aina) nobody is going to be asking her if she really loves vegetables, and if her name is 真衣 (Mai) nobody is going to ask if her clothes are real! Japanese names aren’t taken literally like that, which gives you the opportunity to play around with different characters. It was only until recently that naturalized foreigners were required to take a kanji name. For something like Michael, first you pick if you want to use Mike or Michael. For Mike you need to decide if you want to write it as mai ku or ma i ku. What is wrong with something like 舞句 or 眛紅 (Maiku)? 舞気留 Maikeru? As far as being unreadable, there are plenty of names or kanji with unusual readings that Japanese use. I don’t think it’s completely right to tell foreigners they can’t use kanji in their names, you can register a bank account and many other things with a kanji name despite your name not being Japanese.

  • syrup16g

    You can register your name in kanji, hiragana or katakana and any combination of the above. Around 10-ish years ago it absolutely had to be in kanji but the law has changed now. 

  • syrup16g

    If you have a Chinese name you can use it as it is, if the character is not regularly used in Japanese you can use the Japanese version of that character. Your FB says 健丰, this would be pronounced ケンホウ kenhou in Japanese. 

  • syrup16g

    For Japanese last names 橋 hashi is bridge :)

  • SaraWyatt

    YOU USED MY NAMEE~ < My name is SEIRA, bitches!
    Lol I'll also admit to thinking about being really ostentatious and unlikable and using the kanji for hime 姫 because hell, that's the meaning of my name. Try and stop me!  I'd be all,"My name is hime; pronounced SEIRA!" xP jk 

  • linguarum

    Which brings me to one of my pet peeves. If I want to know how to write “Johnny” in Japanese, Japanese people will say it’s ジョニー. Of course, I realize that forcing the Japanese syllabary to produce English words requires mangling the pronunciation a little, and that’s しょうがない. But since there is a “jah” sound in katakana, I would say that ジャニ actually comes closer to the original, native pronunciation. Still, many Japanese people will insist that anything other than 
    ジョニー  is wrong. Even though it’s your name, your opinion about how it should be written or pronounced doesn’t seem to matter.

    But it’s not as hard-and-fast as some people make it seem. If your name is Luke, you will be told to write ルーク, although the Apostle Luke is written ルカ, and no one tells him he’s writing it wrong. If your name is Jordan, you will be instructed to write ジョーダン (as in the Japanese word for “joke”), although it appears that the people who live in the country of ヨルダン didn’t get the memo. If the rules are that malleable, you really can’t insist that there’s only One Right Way to do katakana, IMHO.

  • ですこ

     Save more with Interest Boar! Help out that low credit score!

  • ですこ

     I don’t think you need to put quotes around names when it’s someone’s actual (half a) name.

  • Kiai Fighter

    I know many Japanese natives who have just hiragana names (first names).

    Also, one girl I know married a foreign guy and so when she took his last name, her last name became katakana. no, wait, 2 girls that I know… and yes, they are native Japanese living in Japan (not abroad).

  • Apryl Peredo

    I have friends whose last name is so long, it takes 8 katakana. You can have hanko made with up to 8 katakana…..so this will not be an issue. If you need 9 kana, then maybe you’re in dire straights.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vitor.etcheverry Vitor Etcheverry

    I used kanji meaning, but in a different fashion. I’m Vitor, wich basically means victory in latin. I got Enamdict from Jim Breen and looked there for names with kanji that could mean victory. In other words, I’ve found a real japanese name (with kanji and everything) that actually fits for me (´0ノ`*) Of course that is still strange, but its better then ヴィトル・エチェヴェヒ (or ビトル・エチェベヒ), I think. I do use katakana in official japanese papers, though.

    Btw, I’m 新屋・勝雄 (しんや・かつお) (^∇^) I also made a gibberish one, 神毅勝方(カミガワ), for personal use.

  • Mescale

    Step 2: ???

  • Mescale

    I think whatever language, you should choose something that is easy for the natives to speak. A kata-kana transliteration is easy for you to make and easy for them to read and say.

    For Japanese unless the Kanji (for names) used is common then they would quite possibly have to look up the way to pronounce it, or ask for the pronunciation if it was written. For many Japanese people talking English or to foreigners is scary enough without the insult of asking how to pronounce their name which is written in Japanese ><

    Also names can have other meanings, they may have strong community ties or historical meaning, choosing some cool Kanji may be potentially offensive. Maybe 愛苺 was a mass murderer or a saint or something, maybe a well known yakuza family! Oups faux pas!

    Also thinking from a Japanese perspective, maybe it seems presumptuous and misleading if you have a Kanji name, you are trying to be someone you are not, trying to take the identity of that name or history, with no understanding of it, you are making an assumption that you can just take a Japanese name.
    Japan society is about politeness, frequently you try to out-humble your acquaintances. Choosing to write your name simply in kata-kana shows a simple politeness, where as choosing a bunch of Kanji shows presumption and rudeness and a lack of understanding of the culture.

  • Stroopwafel

    No debt collectors at your door, if you go with interest boar.

  • Mescale

    Chinese doesn’t have a syllabary specifically for foreign words and names, japan does, so you need to transliterate a name into chinese characters if you want chinese people to be able to call you a name.

  • Noah Hicks

    A famous professor of ethnology from Minpaku in Osaka named Dr. Umesao always wrote his name in カタカナ.  But he was probably unique for Japanese.

  • Apache_Chief
  • syrup16g

    It’s up to whoever is deciding, Japanese will usually stick to creating katakana name that is closer to the romaji regardless of it’s pronunciation. There isn’t always one way because there are more sounds than can be represented easily. And actually, Japanese will probably say Johnny is ジャニー because of Johnny’s Jimusho :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1434168513 Juan Fernando Castellón

    Flayer Marian said that this name is common enought that their is a Kanji compound that is used commonly. Luna 流奈 is the code she used. Hashi, thanks for adding to my other comment! Wouldn’t the Japanese stick to hiragana for Tsuki, though? It seems that some names seem more “girlish” and are kept in Hiragana. The name 桜 Comes to mind.
    高城恵輔

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1434168513 Juan Fernando Castellón

    If you’re really deep into Japanese culture, you wouldn’t want nine kana, anyway! My last name in Katakana is 5 characters. カステヨン

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Chinese is a different situation because, like @Mescale:disqus says, they don’t have a writing system specifically for foreign words.

    And I am quite fond of Japanese names, mostly because middle and last names are Japanese. :p

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    There’s joy in katakana!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    NO FUN EVER

  • HUTCHINSOOOON!

    actually i would rather not be called bribe flowerpot

  • Guest

    I thought that to open some bank accounts and sign of leases, you need a name in Kanji. I’ve seen some documents where you need a Kanji regardless of whether you Japanese or a foreigner. Maybe I’m wrong. Does anyone know anything about this?

  • Bren Kulp

    My name is Brennan Kulp (コルプ ブレナン)But I was given a Japanese name, だいすけ, by my Japanese friends. Should I spell my american last name in katakana and then my Japanese first name in kanji (大介)? 

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    You could but if you go by the Japanese name your friends gave you, you should expect a lot of questions about your name. If you just go by your given name written in katakana, it will be a lot less of a hassle.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    I’m curious about this too, I don’t have a real firm grasp on how Japanese law works when it comes to things like this.

  • http://bridgetbeaver.blogspot.com Bridget

    This is an excellent post and something I have to explain to my students every year… I give them their Japanese names at the beginning of the semester and they are always like… I WANNA KANJI NAAAME WAAHH.

    I do have a Kanji name, but I’d never ever use it for documents or… introduce myself with it. I only use it for a stamp that I use to “sign” my sumi-e paintings with. My sumi-e sensei recommended that I create a 4-character hanko, and we selected the characters together:

    舞 bu  – dance
    莉 ri – jasmine flower (but only typically used for names)
    実 jitsu – truth/reality (was the closest sound to ジッ)
    都 to – (as in Kyo”to” 京都の「都」, where I studied sumi-e)

    Otherwise, just ブリジット is good with me!! Most people know it, too because of 「ブリジット・ジョーンズの日記」

  • HorrorChan

    Nope. xD At least I don’t think I am. Hard telling though since his last name has one n. Two brother from Germany came over, split after a feud, one added another n to the last name. 

    Oh god… I must not tell people my last name in Chicago. >.>;

  • HorrorChan

    That’s what I though about trying. Thanks. :D

  • HorrorChan

    People though my last name was a joke when the Simpsons became popular. xD I think this will be my theme song for eternity. 

  • Gigatron

     I respectfully disagree. Japanese “name culture” is really not so wildly different as you’re painting it. Lots of people in many countries share names with saints or murderers and it’s not a faux pas with them. Why would it be so with the Japanese? Are people named Mary/Maria ostracised for having the Virgin Mary’s name in the West? I HIGHLY doubt that the meaning of the kanji holds any real value in modern society any more. Just as Westerners with the name McDonnell are not asked if they are really the son of Donnell, Ethans are not assumed to be “strong and steadfast”, and Smiths are not asked if they are, in fact, smiths.

    Plus that contradicts actual Japanese law that once forced anyone taking Japanese citizenship to adopt a Japanese name. This law was changed only fairly recently, which tells me that for the longest time, they WANTED/EXPECTED you to have a Japanese name if you were going to join their society. From what I understand, they changed it to benefit the gaijin that wanted the option to keep their birth names.

    Quite the contrary, it seems incredibly more humble to me to want to cast off your original name to adopt one that ties you closer to your adopted home. To me it shows your dedication to being a part of Japanese society. Granted, this is my opinion but I’d be surprised if at least some Japanese won’t agree.

    While I agree that having a name that nobody can read (although even native Japanese sometimes have to explain how to read their names) is probably a poor idea, I see nothing wrong with adopting a normal-sounding Japanese name (for those intending to become citizens or stay long-term).

    Personally I feel that a katakana name singles me out as a foreign outsider and not part of the “group” that I intend to join. Though I agree a tourist staying a fortnight in Japan need not bother with a kanji name, I feel that a potential migrant (like myself) should not be discouraged from trying to create for him/herself an identity that links them to their home of choice.

    Apologies for TL;DR

  • ですこ

     That, or he was a robot.

  • http://twitter.com/shollum Shollum

    Well, I’d never try to get my name into a kanji meaning anyway. I don’t even want to guess how I’d get “bearer of the anointed one” into kanji.

    I’ll just stick with クリストファー 

  • Mescale

    One thing to consider is not just law but how people/companies work, it may be legal to use kana, but some companies may like to work with kanji names, or their old software only accepts kanji, they don’t have room for a kana transliteration on the form as it only accepts kanji. Staff are not trained to deal with kana. etc.

    Generally when you bring something unexpected to anyone, they are unsure what to do, so it can be a hassle for you and for the people you interact with if they have to change. 

    So having a kanji name could be useful to make it easier to deal with such situations.

    I’m thinking here of things like apartment leases, bank accounts, loans etc. So its stuff you would only experience when you’re firmly ensconced into Japan.

  • elisabel

    I actually had a student whose name on the official list appeared as 月 but she wrote “Luna” on her name card for my class. While I can’t be 100% sure that the real reading for her name was るな (I didn’t doubt it so I didn’t ask), I have since had other students named るな, but written with two kanji. It seems to be a popular name.

    I always tell students who have names that sound like things in Spanish what their names mean in Spanish. E.g. Reina (queen) and Risa (laughter). Mmm, except the time I had a girl named Rana (frog).  Ahaha…

  • elisabel

    The last heading, “Be proud of your name,” is interesting. Since I am proud of my name, I think that writing it in anything other than the letters of the Spanish alphabet automatically bastardizes it. Whether I see エリ or 絵理, I don’t think “that’s my name.” I think, “that’s what I write to make life easy for the people in whose country I live.” It’s the same with my two last names relative to Americans; I have to put a hyphen between them so people don’t think that my middle name is “Vega,” a problem I wouldn’t have in the country of my birth. When I became a naturalized American citizen I made the hyphen official across all my documents. I don’t like it, it kinda bothers me, but, well, when in Rome and all, ahaha…

  • Apryl Peredo

     Most Western last names can be handled in 3-5 katakana. Your registered name, the one you use to register with your city ward, already has to match your hanko. (And you have to have a hanko to open a Japanese bank account, etc. so most every one of us foriegners has one.) The new registration system has some perks (like a 5 year term, rather than 3) but the name matching the hanko has already been expected.

  • AKITO989

    My cert name is Sim Xi En and my chinese name is 沈希恩… 

    So… what do I call myself? 83 Is it okay if I call myself キオン? As for the surname… シムキオン?
    …My ‘En’ sounds like ‘un’ but not unko’s un… OTL So.. Yeah, it’s kinda troublesome. Japanese ‘en’ is the wrong way to pronounce my name too… D: 

    And yush, well aware of my surname’s meaning. Another trouble. D:

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1035678298 KianHong Khoo

    Thanks for your reply. 

    Interesting … 
    健丰 is written in simplified chinese. In traditional chinese, it should be written as 健豐 which the equivalent in Kanji is 
    健豊. And  it is pronounced at Ken Yutaka in Japanese. Am I using the right way to find my Kanji equivalent of my chinese name? I prefer to use kanji rather katakata to mimic the pronunciation of my name. 

  • http://mistersanity.blogspot.com Jonadab

    Depending on linguistic background, nine kana may not go very far.  Eastern European names for example can easily consume half a dozen kana *per syllable*.  This happens because combinations like shcht (or maybe it was tshch; something like that) are a single letter in the original language, and that letter frequently occurs in consonant clusters (blends).  So you get names that are only half a dozen letters long in the original, but in Latin script they come out looking like Kshchritshchtnya or so, which is bad enough; when you bring it over into a cluster-free syllabary like kana, not only do you have multiple consonants per consonant but then also you end up inserting about twenty extra vowels.  If you have this kind of name and need to spell your name in kana, there’s really only one way to avoid using a LOT of characters to spell it:  you can discard most or all of your original name and adopt a new name that sounds rather more like Japanese.  I suggest “Sakura” if you’re female or “Yoshi” if you’re male.

    Polish names can be interesting to transliterate as well.  I know a guy whose surname is “Olszewski”, which is pronounced (approximately) “Oh chef ski.”  (Polish uses z in digraphs in much the same way that English uses h, and w is v sort of like in Latin only backwards, among other things.  F is of course what happens to v when you devoice it for any reason.  Also, he’s a multi-generational American — his given name is Bud, no kidding — so it’s possible that this pronunciation is a few generations of drift removed from what it would have been authentically in Poland; if I had to guess I’d say that’s probably what happened to the L.)  Polish names don’t end up with as many kana as a Slavic name, but you can sure end up with kana and romaji that don’t match up according to Hepburn, which can be all kinds of fun to explain to people who don’t know anything about European languages other than English.

  • Eray Sengul

    I’m turkish and my name may not be a japanese name but it is read only one way because it has hiragana attached to it and the meaning is “great/remarkable”. My name is Eray エライ 偉い so consider me to be a very lucky exception! :D (P.S. I ROFL’ed at the corpse foster child ^^)

  • Eray Sengul

    Step 3: PROFIT :D

  • aderow

    Corpse foster child. Sounds like the title of a movie made by Tim Burton.
    I never really been that interested in trying to write my name in Kanji once. I’m pretty sure someone offered to do it before but when I told them my name, they weren’t too sure how to do it lol

  • Melissa

    Since my last name is impossible for people outside of Europe to pronounce, I’d rather just change it.

  • http://www.japaneseruleof7.com/ Ken Seeroi

    Solution:  go back to your home country, change your name to a Japanese name, and come back to Japan.

    But really, have you thought about why Japanese is so off-limits to foreigners?  When Japanese people come to the U.S., they use the English alphabet. Somehow using the Japanese writing system is only for people who look “Japanese.”  I don’t know . . .

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    I’m not sure that’s a really fair comparison, because there’s no English equivalent to katakana.

  • http://www.japaneseruleof7.com/ Ken Seeroi

    Now that you mention it, I’m trying to picture the U.S. with a separate writing system used only for immigrants.  Probably be a hit in Arizona.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AbigailCamarillo Cam Abi

    I’d always wanted to take the meaning of my name and find the kanji characters to go along with it. Although I did have an older Japanese lady write it out for me in kanji having no knowledge what the kanji actually means. Its probably something stupid and she laughed as she wrote it. hahaha

  • Ariana

    Time to go to work, work all night, search for underpants yay, we won’t stop till we have underpants yum tum yummy tum yay!

  • http://twitter.com/legendofleo レオ王子

    Very interesting comment. I actually met a Japanese girl named Luna a while ago and was suprised that it was a normal Japanese name.

    By the way, my name is Leo (which seems to be a common Japanese name for pets). Typically I use the katakana レオ but have often been asked what my name is in kanji, to which I reply 礼王 ;P

  • http://twitter.com/amyjeanmachine Amy-jean あいみ

    See, my last name is Mac Donald, which is unfortunately associated with that hamburger place (even though it is spelled differently!) so I tend to go with マクダ for my family name since it’s an actual Japanese family name except… in katakana?
    I have two first names which is sort of awkward in Japanese, and I don’t think エミジェーン is very pretty in Japanese so I took a Japanese first name instead: あいみ. I really hate writing it in katakana. I can let go of kanji if you’ll just let me write あいみ in hiragana, Hashi!
    I have Chinese family who call me 愛美 (ai mei) so I figured it would be okay to just use it in Japanese too since it’s practically the same reading. I think it might be a little too cheesy, though, so I was hoping for 愛海 but I guess that dream will never come true for this gaijin.
    Anyway tl;dr is hiragana a no-no too? Can I be マクダあいみ?

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    The hiragana might be confusing because it’s not spelled the same way as the standard, katakana way (あいみ vs. エイミー), and because it’s hiragana. I’d stick with katakana.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JadeMatrix.art Joseph Durel

    Very interesting topic.  I think it’s fine to have a kanji version of your name, but pronunciation/meaning is definitely an issue.  Personally, I use 厳子神事求, which I chose based on meaning.  I never use it alone when introducing myself, however.  Until someone’s seen it enough to recognize it as my name, I always write/type デュレールジョセフ with it.

  • raygungirl

    If you’re just talking about family names, I apologize for being off-topic…

    I’ve heard it’s kind of trendy sometimes for Japanese given names to be written in カタカナ, even when the parents and child are Japanese. My first Japanese teacher was from Osaka and her given name was written that way, and of course there’s Japanese-American Utada Hikaru, who spells it: 宇多田ヒカル. (Though Utada might be a different case seeing as how she’s got dual-citizenship and speaks/sings Japanese with an American accent.)

  • http://kiwinz.myopenid.com/ kiwinz

    I understood that shortly after WWII, the number of officially recognised Kanji was reduced. Some of the dropped characters included Kanji used in names. As a protest some parents registered their children’s names in Katakana in preference to using “approved” Kanji. My wife is Japanese-born and her name is サヤコ. Even other (younger) Japanese are surprised by the way her name is written.

  • http://goblinjapanese.wordpress.com/ Ruby

    Btw, guys, can I ask for some advice regarding this?

    I have a really easy to katakanize name but… Mainly, my first name is Ioana (pronounced I-wa-na). Since I can write it both ways, which would be best? The way my name is actually spelled (イオアナ, accurate but probably confusing)or the way it’s pronounced (イワナ…because my name has not been misspelled by enough people over the years)? 

  • http://www.japaneseruleof7.com/ Ken Seeroi

     Well said.  I agree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/naomip224 Naomi Peck

    I have an interesting case whereby my English name (Hebrew-derived) is a Japanese name. I generally write it in katakana anyway, but sometimes I just can’t resist the kanji….. ^^

  • あけみ / Dawn

    So I understand the pitfall of attempting to create a kanji name and ending up with some non-nonsensical jibberish.  (Ask anyone who has a kanji “KITCHEN” tattooed on their bicep, right?)

    My problem is that my first name is mostly a vowel sound that doesn’t exist in Japanese, and I’m just not wild about being called “doon” / ドーン.   So many of foreign exchange students (especially S. Korean, in my experience) coming into the US seem to pick us “English names”, I don’t see why it would be that strange to use a native name if I did end up living in Japan one day.    I suppose I could use my middle name instead, but if I’m using a different name anyway, why not use something that would be easy for the people around me to pronounce and recognize?    

    (If it’s simply a matter of getting lots of questions on it, I’d personally rather explain I took the name あけみ (Akemi) rather than try and coach people who don’t have an “aw” vowel sound how to pronounce Dawn.  Maybe that’s just me?)

  • Lily

    ikr my name is Lily so i know were your coming from it actually sucks having a name that sonds kinda like a baby that cant say there rs yet my name in japanese is リリー(ririi) and it dousent sond anything like my name ***sigh***

  • http://twitter.com/Livvyxo &xo;

    My name is Livvy.

    fml.

  • http://twitter.com/HiraharaPichi_ ピチ

    I know a girl whose name is Rose (ローズ) and she wrote her name 薔薇
    as well as a girl whose name is Lily who wrote her name 百合
    I like play like that :D

    Personally, I’m fond of the way English names sound in Japanese, or Japanese surnames with English given names (u_u)

    My actual name is 平原琳子, but I usually go around introducing myself as either 平原アリシア because it sounds cooler~ xD;;

    I think, while kanji may look cool to foreigners, having your own native-country’s type name probably seems cooler.

    (Another lesson!

    ① Four kanji names→ 亜莉死安 are not pretty with or without pretty kanji.
    ② Using 死 for し cos ヨロ)

  • Ericakanters

    A Japanese man wrote down the name of a friend of mine, but I can’t find it on the internet. Could this be because this person wrote it in Kanji? Maybe you can take a look at this picture and maybe you can tell me if this is the name ‘Peter’?

  • Ericakanters

     Can anyone help me!?

  • Laura whisman

    Nuuuu!!!  *crushed*  (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

  • Kate

    My common name “Kate” is pronounced “Keito” with Japanese syllables, and just so happens to actually be a fairly standard Japanese word, 毛糸, which is wool. I’d introduce myself in Japanese as “Keito” and would always be met with 2 responses, in this order:
    1. Don’t you mean “Keiko”? (a common Japanese girl’s name). No, I’m not remotely Japanese. English name for me.2. That’s a very strange word for a name.The #2 puzzled me for ages until I bothered to look it up and found that, yep, my name is a normal Japanese word. No wonder it seemed like such a weird name. “Hi, my name is wool. Nice to meet you.”I don’t use the kanji 毛糸 when writing my name, of course, but still kind of identify with it when I see it on the cover of knitting magazines.

  • Drewdeth

    My name is Drew, so would my name be “deru” (デル)?

  • Suki

    Well, this kind of reminds me of how I had a friend in high school from South Korea, and she picked the American name: “Katie” and after my friends and I got to know her, we gave her a nickname… unfortunately we were all into japanese stuff-SO she ended up getting the nickname: “Temari”, and everyone in the school ended up forgetting that her name was Katie, and even the teachers started calling her Temari! Then she stopped responding to “Katie”. LOL! It was really funny because then people insisted on calling her Temari, just cause she looked really Asian. (>__<)!

  • Daichi

    How would you read Cho Lin Shen in Japanese? Is the pronunciation the same? Because Japanese names in Chinese sound different.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1434168513 Juan Fernando Castellón

    This is true! I always get asked about Takashiro, Keisuke. My Japanese name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1434168513 Juan Fernando Castellón

    There’s no standardized Romaji, Hepburn is close to being the de facto, but that would also create differences in the Kana renditions of foreign names.

  • 歌真理

    I think everyone here is forgetting about a VERY important feature of Japanese: FURIGANA! You know, the Kana that sits beside Kanji to TELL YOU HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT?! The Japanese use them all the time in text books, manga, movie subtitles, and even business cards!

    The Japanese use Furigana because, yes, Kanji have multiple readings: On-yomi (based off of the Chinese pronunciations); Kun-yomi (the originally Japanese pronunciations used in everyday words); and sometimes they have Nanori-yomi (pronunciations ONLY USED IN NAMES!). Kanji can have multiples of each of these — in fact, I once saw somewhere that there is a kanji with about 4 On-yomi, 10 kun-yomi, and 12 nanori-yomi! Thats 26 DIFFERENT readings! — and ANY of them could be the correct pronunciation!

    So don’t worry so much about the pronunciation being different or rare. I’d be more concerned about getting a proper MEANING as well as pronunciation, and an auspicious stroke count. THAT is what is going to get you!

  • Mina

    I was wondering, when you write your name in katakana, should you put your family name first and your given name last like they do in japan? or write them like you would in english separated by the dot thing? :)

  • AnadyLi

    I’m actually Chinese, but when my parents chose my name in Chinese, it actually has no meaning. It’s just a Chinese-ified version of my English name. Should I visit Japan, would 李安娜 translate somewhat well? b/c I put it in Google Translate and got a bunch of gibberish, as expected. (Try it. ctrl+c it into Google Translate and set it to Chinese => Japanese. You’ll get a kanji + katakana. >_<)

  • Hiram Aranda

    Can anyone help me learn how to spell my name. it is not a common name in english at all. My name is Hiram Aranda. It is a mix of hebrew and spanish names. I can’t find a single place that will help me translate it. :(

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Your name fortunately seems to translate very well phonetically to Japanese. It’d probably just be ヒラン アランダ.

  • jiikko

    I am Japanese and therefore my English is certainly not good, but oh
    well, I hope you can understand it. First of all it is true that it is
    difficult to change one’s name from the alphabet to Kanji, but with some
    experience there are good possibilities. Most of them are surely not
    the trivial Japanese name and some people find it funny, however in the
    other hand it could be really cool. Also note that some Japanese parents
    give their children western names like “Leo” with the fitting

  • SelfStudy

    The way I’ve heard ‘Hiram’ pronounced would be transcribed as ハイラム.

  • Erica

    ダウン maybe?

  • Kurisu

    So, my name is Kurisutofaa, which would probably be shortened to Kurisu, are you telling me I can’t use Kanji? :/

  • Ltsgosrfn@gmail.com

    My name is a combination of kanji and katakana. When my wife and I married, we decided it’d be best to combine her family name and mine, especially for our kid’s future, bank loans and other purposes in Japan. We got our marriage registered in that name, she started a new family registry (or amended her old one somehow) all quite easily. Now with the new immigration system in place, they let me put my name like that on my permenant residence card and in the registration system too. It’s definitely unique, only drawback is that my name never fits in any space on any form whatsoever, especially in romaji.

  • http://www.facebook.com/layla.torres.568 Layla Torres

    how I can write my name in japase

  • Abigail Sano

    i’m becoming a citizen of japan since my family is moving there… am i given a new japanese surname? how does that work? btw my name on this account is fake completely

  • 神優 勝者

    Japanese people couldn’t pronounce my name (a rare French version of a common name), so one day a few years back, a bunch of them decided to give me a Japanese name, which was a translation of my real name (both first and last), and is actually legal/real.

    This is the name I use when communicating with Japanese people, and it doesn’t cause a problem. Three people decided to use my real name because they could pronounce it (or thought they could), but the rest prefer using my Japanese name.

    Would you still consider this to be wrong? (Also, G+ reversed it on this site. Surname is 勝者/まさひと)

  • Amy

    Just the kind of article I was looking for.. Hopefully I can get some advice!
    I’m learning Japanese at university, and I’ve been talking to some Japanese people.. They’ve told me of friends they have with the name ‘Amy’, but as a Japanese name written in Kanji.
    The suggestions I’ve been given are;
    詠美
    瑛美

    Anyone’s thoughts would be appreciated!

  • Zlarp

    My surname’s etymology literally goes “tree” plus “meadow”, which translates nicely to 木原 :)

  • http://twitter.com/DiscordantFlesh Silent Agony

    “Corpse foster child” AWESOME! Sounds like the name of a death metal band!

  • http://twitter.com/hituiuc 四郎

    This is a really old post so I don’t know if my question will be answered, but anyway:

    What if you have an an American first name but a Chinese last name? For instance, someone like Henry Sy. His given name is American, but his last name in Chinese is 施. Is it okay to mix Katakana and Hiragana?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000197577056 Daniel Moreno

    At least you end up with the same amount of syllables. Daniel(2 syllables) goes to ダニエル(danieru[4 syllables]).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000197577056 Daniel Moreno

    Like in English separated by a dot. English is a compulsory class and Japanese are taught very early how to write their names like an English speaking person, so by and large they tend to expect it of us.

  • Toyotama

    In all honestly, I have no idea how my name should be written in Japanese…. My first name is fairly easy – it’s be written as ロシーン (It’s Roisin, pronounced Ro-sheen)

    I have no clues as to how to write my surname, McLaughlin. It’s pronounced like Mick-Loch-Lin (The ‘laugh’ part’s actually pronounced like the word ‘loch’ , with a gutteral ‘ch’) – I don’t know how to write this properly…

    I know this wasposted up a while ago, but is there any chance someone could let me know? ^^;

  • Ami Okoruen

    Hi. My name is Ami. I had a Japanese person at my house and they said I can write my name like this 亜美, is this kanji? (o^^o)
    Apparently Ami is a Japanese name too?

  • walker

    i have only a basic knowledge of writing kana, but i’ve been told i have a good ear for japanese sounds, so here goes, in romaji: makurokkurin. or maybe mukurokkurin. really not sure about the “ma” vs “mu,” but i think either will work better than “mi,” despite your spelling, because it sounds closer to my understanding of scottish and irish pronunciation. if you do pronounce it with a stronger “mi”, please forgive my presumption.

    if you need it for official documents, i recommend getting a more authoritative version written by a native speaker. apparently they’re pretty strict on that sort of thing.

  • Toyotama

    My attempt at writing it phonetically was pretty much based on how i *think* it might be pronounced in a differt (read: ((stereo))typical US accent)… since even though I’m scottish, I think sometimes I still pronouce it a little oddly… makurokkurin sounds more accurate than using ‘mu’ anyway.
    So, thanks for the suggestion :) It sounds a lot closer that the attempts I was making at it.
    (Also, it’s not for official doccuments or anything, it’s more that I was wondering how I’d write it for introduion myself… mostly online, or when I’m just practicing vocab etc. I’ll keep you sggestion in mind though~)

  • N. Butler

    Here’s a cool site that has some clothes with English names in Kanji— kanji-wear.com

  • Dominic

    >Writing your name in kanji is trying to make your name into something it isn’t.

    In the context of someone who is a long term residence of Japan, why is this a bad thing? Names change all the time throughout history. One’s surname only came into being due to one individualistic person long ago making it up or adapting it from something else. If you’re going to butcher the pronunciation of one’s name by mashing it into a katakana transliteration I see no problem with using a more aesthetically pleasing kanji version provided it’s chosen with some sense.

    Okay, names like 有道出人 can seem a bit DQN, but it’s not my place to judge.

  • Jeff Doyle

    I studied Japanese in university and was taught that non-Japanese names were written always in katakana, which after visiting Japan, seems incorrect. Sometimes they are written in hiragana, probably because it is more aesthetically appealing

  • J

    “The other problem is that pretty much every kanji has multiple readings, so somebody might look at your name and either have no idea how to pronounce it, or they’ll pronounce it differently than you intended.”

    You make it sound like this a problem specific to foreigners trying to write their name in kanji, but it pertains to native Japanese too. It’s kind of a fact of life, it’s hard to assume you know the reading of someone’s name before you can actually ask them. So… I don’t really see why this should deter someone from using kanji if they’re aware of that factor.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lava.princeton Lava Yuki

    My name in japanese is pronounced as ラワ. So i asked my japanese teacher nd a few friends for kanji suggestions and decided on 蘭和. The meaning is gud, and its easy to read so i dnt see the problem in writing names in Kanji

  • Jaden

    侍影殿

    I like it. Makes me feel like a badass. XD

  • LOLLY

    hi my name is lolly :”3 i want to know how to write my name in Japanese? i couldn’t find the right way to write it ;c help!

  • 八雲

    やくも < 八雲

  • MavsWorld

    My wife is Japanese, but prefers to write her name in hiragana, she says it looks cuter than the kanji version. She also said that when her mother was a child it was common for people to write their names in hiragana instead of kanji, (I’m guessing due to education levels).

    I think if you take a kanji names, it might seem a bit weird to Japanese people if you are a westerner, though being a westerner I could be wrong. I’m just going from experiences I’ve had with similar things.

  • Ray

    Could I suggest りりあ, there is an AV star called 川島りりあ who is hot :)

  • ELM

    What about name stamps? I hear it’s impossible to buy anything from online or do bank transactions without them. What does a foreigner, living in Japan, who has to write their names in Katakana do? Is it even possible to have a name stamp in Katakana?

  • Junko Beatrice

    Well, my parents are Japanese and Italian. I’m Canadian.
    So I have a Japanese name and an Italian name. I go to Japan often since I have a lot of family there.

    So I guess I could make a Kanji for my name, since it’s of Japanese origin, if I really wanted too but…

    I like my middle name better, so when I’m in Japan, I use it. Shortened to ビーチェ usually though, because ベアトリーチェ is really just too long for a name in Japan. Besides, I’m a foreigner there, so I would rather have a foreign name, if that makes sense?

    In Canada it’s easier just to use Junko, though. Less foreign sounding.

  • Smoshsdisturbing

    I say yes to kanji being correct, because it’s just being plain copycat-ish no matter WHAT your continent origin is!!! -.- :P
    Sooorrry!!! =P

  • Anthony

    I think my name looks cool in katakana, アンソニー, but in kanji it’s either nonsensical or a string of seemingly sage-like adjectives. If I were to adopt a Japanese name, then it’d probably be 直木 since I’m fond of the sound and like the fact that it has a simple meaning which, at the same time, seems to capture who I am in a metaphorical sense. My last name is just bad all around. In katakana, it’s バノバー and in kanji it just gets really ridiculous: “Ten thousand peace old woman”, what? I’d happily receive a new surname through marriage if I move to Japan, lol.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    I’d totally own that name!

  • 1237

    What’s the Kanji for the name ‘Ben’ or ‘Benny’ and what’s the meaning ? :D

  • SRIJAN GHOSH

    how do you write SRIJAN GHOSH IN JAPANESE KANJI

  • Mia Cooper

    what about my name, Mia? I seem to find that its pretty much the same in a lot of languges

  • Jose

    I think some names can be translated in to kanji like: “Jose” Phonetically it will be “Hou-Sei”/”Hou-Se” in Romaji, “ホウセイ” in Katakana, “宝世” in Kanji which means individually “treasure” and “world” respectively which equals “world treasure”? LOL “You are a mighty king who holds the treasure of the world in his hands,” is what some say it would mean.

  • 宗喜

    I am Chinese, what about pronouncing my Chinese name in Kanji pronunciation?