The title says it all. Whenever I try to read Japanese names it feels like I can’t read Kanji at all. Now I might exaggerate a bit but sometimes I find names that I can’t read—while I thought I knew the Kanji.
In the beginning, I thought maybe it’s because I don’t know all the readings. You know how a Kanji might have 5 readings but you know only 2 or maybe 3 with WaniKani. However, sometimes the reading doesn’t make any sense…an exception(for the 258788783478597853rd time in Japanese).
Example: 一男 Kazuo (Even the most basic Kanji isn’t readable haha)
In all honesty I try to avoid using peoples names because I find it so hard to remember them. I usually just mumble something unintelligible and add an appropriate suffix and it usually works out okay.
If I can I also get them to write their kanji and the reading down so I can learn it and this way also gives you the opportunity to get out of pretending you don’t know their name by saying you’re not sure how to write it.
From there on though it’s just pure memorisation. It’s easier if you already know the kanji even if the readings different. And I wouldn’t worry about it to much because many Japanese people struggle when it comes to names with a lot of ways to write them. Even common names can be written with a really “creative” set of kanji which can easily throw off beginners and natives alike.
There’s really nothing to do but ask or hope there’s furigana for it.
I’m pretty sure it’s not even a matter of a “reading exception”, but it’s just people writing any kanji they want along with the actual name in hiragana.
I guess it’s their equivalent to Catherine/Katherine or Damian/Damien
It’s not uncommon for people to ask each other how to write their names, cause no one knows lol
Usually in manga or novels, the names, no matter how “common”, there’s a furigana on how the names are read. I’m reading a manga now, with someone named Takeuchi ( 竹内) and they even put on furigana even though it should be intuitive to many Japanese (I think?).
I don’t know in Japan itself, but in anime, you commonly encounter conversation where they explain how to read or write their names. So even native Japanese themselves experience hard time on some names, I guess
Most common last names are not that hard to remember. Usually two kun’yomi, sometimes two on’yomi squished together. You can try to read the names after a few movie plays, see if you can’t intuit some names. Also look up the kanji on wikipedia. If there is a famous person with that name, you’ll see the yomikata after their name. Of course readings for the same name in kanji may vary from family to family.
Even Japanese struggle with names. This is why there is a furigana line above the name box on every form you have to fill out. As mentioned above, they often ask about kanji and how to say names in conversation. The most common ones become easy after seeing them a few times, but there are plenty of regional names, that if you’re not from there, you have little hope in figuring out the name. My married name is like that. As for given names, older people generally have traditional names that are easier to read (with practice and familiarity), but there are certainly exceptions. Many young people have unusual names nowadays though and no one can read them. My husband will go through my sons’ class lists and he can only read a handful of the names because of unusual kanji combinations and pronunciations.
Names are just memorization of, “Well, it’s usually this.”
But sometimes they’re really bizarre, especially キラキラ names, like 光 being pronounced ライト
In most cases, the owner of the name just has to tell you what it is. When you fill in any form in Japan, it’ll have you write it in Kanji first, and then write the reading of it in hiragana or katakana below it. (Pro-tip: If the instructions on it are written in hiragana, write the reading in hiragana. If it’s written in Katakana, write it in Katakana.)
There are names that are purely phonetic where the parents just made up their own kanji because they can. There can be a lot of spellings for any name, even common ones.
There was a Terrace House episode where they were celebrating one guy’s birthday and were really embarrassed when they realised they’d used the wrong kanji for his name on the banner. That kind of drove it home for me that everyone finds it tricky.
It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. I mean I would understand non-native people struggling with things like this but even native people do which seems ridiculous to be honest. I know Japanese people are weird because they do a lot of unusual stuff but at this point I start to wonder whether they are masochists.