Breaking the forbidden name rule

I know, never use Kanji in your name when going to live in Japan as you get the pronunciation wrong or the meaning stupid. But what if you changed your name( like a nick name) to something that is a Japanese name. The name in question is Hayato (隼人). this name is similar to mine and has a very basic Kanji writing . My reason behind wanting to unofficially change my name to this is because a strange foreign sounding name is only going to make me more alien to the Japanese people. By adopting a Japanese name I would integrate more into society. The inspiration comes from a German friend who’s German name was foreign a weird so he took a more English name… Nick, So could i do the same in japan… unofficially change my name from the English foreign alien name to Hayato a more easily pronounced a recognizable name

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As someone who lived in Japan for about ten years I recommend not doing this. It will sound weirder to Japanese people than your real name. It will make you stand out more not less. You won’t be able to use it as your name in any legal fashion either. Integrating into society 100 percent in Japan is in my opinion an impossible task unless you are asian, speak impeccable Japanese, and have an amazing grasp of the culture. Be yourself and use your real name. If it’s ridiculously difficult for Japanese people to pronounce you’ll most likely get a Japanese sounding nickname anyway.


I’d say you can use whatever name you want, be it japanese one or a, to say, italian one. There are lot’s of americans and europeans with fully asian names and vise versa. How well you are integrated into society is not determined by your name. You’re not obliged to use your passport name in casual, not legal things. Also you can (I guess?) register an alias, a second name for yourself.

My point is, if you want japanese people to call you by your name, not just some random nickname, go, create one they’ll be able to pronounce. I personally think it’s great to have more than one name. Oh, and don’t you worry about it being weird or something. You can even bluntly tell people that you specially created such a name. It’s your right and normal people would respect this. And when a few people get used to it, when they strongly associate you with the name, it won’t be so weird anymore as (or even if) it was in the beginning. And by extension, new people would think of it less weird since you yourself is already accustomed to be called this way (therefore your introduction is as swift and confident as the one you have now) and since there are people who’s used to it too (e.g. they introduce you to someone). Having an unusual name is great.

In China, (at least in my teacher’s experience) they give you a name. So when I received my Chinese name, and then went on to study Japanese, I wanted a Japanese name too. But I didn’t want to design one, I wanted to be given one.

My first visit to Japan, I asked the people I stayed with to name me. Within a few minutes they gave me a name that sounded terribly close to my own, and I didn’t like it at first. Then they explained that the name actually meant something dear to them, and then I totally changed my mind.

My name is Thomas, but they named me 有基 (ともき), “Have Christ”. When I introduce myself to Japanese people, I go by ともき. Only one person has asked where I got the name =P I don’t think it’s weird to have a name like this, because very often Asian people give themselves English names when they introduce themselves to English speakers, so I’d say it’s perfectly fair. A lot of the people in the Korean church I visit in Seoul tell me their English names, and a few others just go by their actual name. This is a super lenient thing, I think- and every single Asian I know here in America goes by an English/Western name, y’know? Why wouldn’t it work the other way around? There may be some who ask your English name, and then call you that anyways, hahaha! It’s the same for me actually, I usually go the extra mile to learn to pronounce and memorize people’s actual name.


As pointed out, you will never ever fully integrate in Japanese society. Hell, there’s Korean families that have lived there for generations, the kids are Japanese through and through and native Japanese can still sometimes tell them apart. I don’t think it would facilitate your integration to be honest. Stick with your actual name, it’ll be a lot less weird for everyone involved and probably a lot more natural for them in interactions.

If it’s what you want to do, I say go for it. I know a few Japanese people who came to Canada and gave themselves more English sounding names. I don’t see the harm in doing the reverse for Japan too. If it’s just a fun nickname, why not. :stuck_out_tongue:

Very fortunately I have a name that translates into Japanese perfectly, and I think it really helps. Especially when it comes to Japanese people remembering your name. I don’t think that having a unofficial Japanese name would make you necessarily integrate more into Japan then your birth name, but nevertheless it’s fun!

I think it’s important to keep in mind the countries we are talking about here. I don’t know about Canada specifically, but it’s a Western country, right next to America, so I’ll assume there is diversity. English is also kind of a Lingua Franca, so it makes more sense to change an typical Asian name to a language more people understand. Now take Japan, where there’s not a lot of diversity apart from tourists, and doesn’t really welcome it…

I’d change my name slightly to make it easier for Japanese to pronounce, but never take a completely Japanese name.

I guess only people living in Japan or japanese could answer properly that answer, but as for other people has said here, I am one of that person that had changed his name in order to have an easier live living abroad.

My full name (spanish one) has three part, a first name and two last names (one for each parent). That means that every time I used my name I had a lot of troubles because:

A) They always spelled it wrong, so all my official paper were not legit
B) They always convert my first last name (father’s last name) as a middle name, and call me in the formula First Name + Mother’s last name, that was kinda strange and made my papers always not legit
C) People never remembered my name, even after month of listening to it, or change it to a more British name

Then, I change the way of introducing me to an English version of my name, and everything was smooth and a lot of easier. There are still people that ask me: But you are not Scotish, right? And yes, I explain to him: “My real name is this, thoug is easier for a lot of people to remember me with the English one”. They nodd, smile and even after knowing my real name, they use the British one because it is easier.

Is this applicable to Japan or Japanese language? Maybe not. I am not suitable to answer that, but maybe there is another quick solution. You can keep your name and have a little nickname that sounds… more Japanese even without being a real one, maybe this suits you better or not.

But, hey, you can try whatever you like. For example, for some japanese guys I am 青い because it is some-kind of translation of my name and they like it, but yeah, they are friends, not strangers.

PS> For the record, my English name is spelled the same as my original one, but the way to say it is completely different.

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I have a friend who went to live in Japan. Her name is Małgorzata, which has “ł” and “rz”, two very Polish sounds that turned out to be quite troublesome to pronunce for non-Polish speakers and hard to represent in katakana. She decided to go with diminutive version which is Gosia. It’s pronunced precisely as ごしゃ, so her colleagues had no problems with memorizing and using it. Maybe something along these lines will work for you too?

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I wouldn’t recommend it. The difference between a foreign name and a more ‘Japanized’ name isn’t going to make or break integration into Japanese society, which as has been pointed out, is not going to happen.

If it’s so your name is easier to pronounce, go for it. If it’s just for the sake of “integrating” (not sure it’ll help) or because you want to pick out a name for yourself (fun), I guess go ahead? But if it won’t actually make things easier in daily life, don’t bother. As people have said–if your name is hard to pronounce, you’ll probably get a nickname.

No harm in trying, I guess (probably). Do what you want, see how it goes.

Why an asian (Indian) can intregate in Japanese society 100% but a westerner cannot ? (Indians don’t look similar to Japanese)

I’ve considered this too (because my name has an x in it and I don’t want to have to write kusa or kusu for it) so I looked through short forms of my name and found a name that is easily pronounceable in Japanese and doesn’t belong to any of my relatives or exes. シュラ may be homophonous to 修羅 but I feel much more okay introducing myself as such because it is at least a European name (I’m White with no real ties). I don’t know how well this is going to work as I’m not going to be there for another 4 months, but I’m hopeful.
I don’t think it’ll help me integrate at all, but I don’t want a horrifyingly long name.

If I ever go to Japan (fingers crossed), I’d want a nickname or something, simply for the reason because my name seems a bit hard on the Japanese tongue. Several Japanese I’ve met before had difficulties pronouncing it, and it weirded me out too to hear my name butchered. (It has a ‘v’ in it, which isn’t very fun in Japanese.)

I’m starting my first Japanese class in two weeks’ time after months of self-studying, maybe I can get a Japanese nickname :slight_smile: we’ll see.

Integrating is a difficult thing isn’t it though. That I’d have to ask my brother, who’s in Tokyo and is way better in Japanese. We’re of East Asian descent, although I’m not sure how much that helps, esp. if we don’t speak impeccable Japanese.

Like people said above, it depends on your reasoning for wanting a Japanese name.
If by choosing a Japanese nickname it`s easier for people to pronounce it/remember you, sure why not. But when it comes to the kanji bit, and the integration bit, it might just make things more difficult. If you have any close Japanese friends, you could ask them about a Japanese name that they think might suit you or ask them if it would be strange if you asked them or other Japanese to call you by your chosen name.

Personally, Ive used a couple nicknames since, while its fairly easy for native English speaker to read/say, Japanese often have trouble remembering/saying my full name. My name is Barbara (named after my grandmother), and I katakanize it as バーバラ. But I usually stick to one of two nicknames; Bana (really old nickname from middle school) or Bara (Rose). Both are always written in katakana though,so I can`t really offer an oppinion on the kanji aspect.
But I only use them so my students/coworkers/friends can remember my name. Obviously I have to sign and do legal stuff using my official romaji and katakanized name.

Obviously he means people who don’t look like they’re obviously not Japanese. We know there are a variety of ethnicities in Asia. I know a handful of Americans in Japan who are of Chinese or Korean descent and they get far less attention when wandering around… they just blend in.

Bara is such a cute compromise! I really like that haha

My name is Jessica and most people here pronounce it “Jieshka” which really bothered me at first (especially the “sh” part) but now it just feels like my Japanese name and I kind of like the sound of it.

Despite how obviously foreign my name is, people haven’t really had a hard time remembering it. I think it depends how you say it when you introduce yourself too; when I introduce myself in Japanese I always say it with the Japanese pronunciation to make it easier for them.

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As a Westerner, don’t do this.

I know “blending into society” and “becoming more Japanese” are part of moving to Japan and living the weeb dream, but as someone who has lived in Japan for many years and is a part of the Japanese workforce, I can guarantee that foreigners (specifically Western foreigners) with kanji names stick out far more than those with katakana names or nicknames. Japanese professionals often find this more confusing and strange than just using a katakana version of your name. You don’t “blend in” and it certainly isn’t making things easier for anyone.

I think it is totally fine to play with the katakana to make your own name easier, however. I think shortened versions of longer names are particularly good choices. If your name sounds similar to Hayato, why not play with the katakana spelling to make it easier? You get the same effect without the cringe.


Don’t do that.

It depends on skin color and facial features?