I'm completely lost with Kanji used for names

Hello everyone,
I feel completely lost and disoriented every time i read names put in Kanji, i never know what reading they use, and sometimes they use completely different readings than the usual onyomi and kunyomi, like 三宅, which turned out in the end to be miyake… i couldn’t have guessed “yake” at all and it’s not in any reading i learned.
Is there anything that might help with this? some method or site to train on the use of name kanji, thank you.

Even native speakers can have trouble with them. I’ve only ever been told that you just have to memorize common name readings (nothing to do about uncommon ones), though the standard readings can give you a start.

I’d also be interested in a good way to practice common ones if there’s a system available.



When it comes to kanji names, I always figured it was similar to how even in English, we sometimes don’t know how to pronounce/spell names and it’s just something you learn as you go along. shrug Totally agree though, if there’s a good way to learn how to tell, I’m all in.

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Japanese resources should have the info you need. It’s just usually not highlighted. For instance, people often look at something like Jisho and think it’s not there.

But you need to look down below at the “Readings: Japanese names” section.

By the way, Japanese name readings are called nanori, not on or kun. The WK page for each kanji has room for that info, though it’s often just left blank here.


There is even a Japanese TV show for names, along the lines of “You read it that way?? えええええぇ?!!”


There’s a memrise course for common names. I recommend checking that out.


:smiley: What’s the name of this show?



I know a handful of 三宅’s, so it’s not all that uncommon.

On this topic, Tofugu sells something related to this. It’s a pack that has a spreadsheet and three PDFs of names sorted by frequency (girl names, boy names, family names). I’m not sure if it’s worth a full $10 but I think I got it on sale a while back so if you wait until the holiday season there might be a discount or something. Since there’s a spreadsheet it would be easy to import into Anki.


There are several shared Anki decks for names.

What I do in addition is researching for celebrities and towns that have such names. For the reading, it is often words in Kanjipedia description of Kanji.

I don’t know about みやけ, though.

Family names tend to be much more standard than personal names. It is like 山田 this is simply the Kun readings of the Kanji. And many, though clearly not all of them are like this.

What Nanori are are older On and Kun readings that are no longer “official”, but are still used in Names. So the gov’t wanted to put them somewhere because while in words they can change them, such as 米国 is べい rather than 米 being め as it originally was. But in names people basically do whatever the fuck they want.


Names are often combinations of the kunyomi, but sometimes they’re the onyomi, or sometimes a combination of both! Or, it could be a reading completely unique to that one name!! As others have mentioned, even Japanese people can struggle to read a name they haven’t seen before. This is brilliantly illustrated by a rakugo story called Hirabayashi:

A young boy is tasked with delivering a letter to someone named 平林(ひらばやし), but forgets the name and can’t read the kanji on the envelope. He asks someone around town to read it for him, and is told it says 「ひらりん」. So he starts asking around town for a Hirarin-san, but is then told no, it’s read 「へいりん」. This continues, and he’s also told to read it as:

  • たいらりん
  • たいらばやし
  • And, by a particularly creative villager: いっぱちじゅうのもくもく (一、八、十、木、木):joy:

There’s an animated version of it in episode 4 of the anime Folktales from Japan, I highly recommend it.


I remember that one! =D
that series in general is highly recommended =)
They have books too! I have them =) (18 Japanese folklore (some I recognize from the show, they probably all are) and 40 Western fairy tales, but in same style =) )


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