How can I read a Japanese name?

Japanese people cannot always certainly read each other's names when they are written in kanji. Although family names are usually simple, there are many which have unusual pronunciations. Given names may be easy or almost impossible to read, and one name may have more than one pronunciation. For example, 長田 may be read Nagada or Nagata. It is often necessary to provide the reading of one's name in furigana (see What is ?) when giving one's name.

Many Japanese reference books exist which give possible readings for names. These may run to several large volumes. Online, Jim Breen's "Enamdict" (see Online dictionaries) is an extremely large compendium of Japanese names.

The book Japanese names by P.G. O'Neill may be helpful in trying to work out a name.


If you have questions, corrections, or comments, please contact Ben Bullock or use the discussion forum / Privacy

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