Kanji pronounced as romaji

I recently realized that the manga Initial D spells the title out in Kanji, but the word “initial” is pronounced in romanji. If you look up the word on it’s own, it comes up as “ka shi ra mo ji,” but it’s often translated as “i ni sya ri.”
I this fairly common; are there other words that are spelled out in Kanji, but actually read in romanji?


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頭文字 in kanji tells Japanese people what イニシャル means. This is a common practice in manga and light novels.

BTW, it’s “romaji” and not “romanji”


Well I’m not quite sure if this answers, but sometimes kanji are used for meaning and then, as far as I can tell, a katakanized English word is actually used as the title so it’s ‘cool’. Just looked up the Initial D title kanji, and it seems that the meaning is the (close to) the same as ‘initial’, which (I think?) is what you already found.

Without any deep research about it, I think Re:Zero’s title is much the same.

Edit: I’ve been Leebo-ed once again :joy:


頭文字 in kanji tells Japanese people what イニシャル means.

It’s obvious to me that the kanji means “initial.”

My question was:

How one is supposed to know to pronounce a kanji in romaji?

When I look up the kanji in Japanese dictionary, they all pronounce it as “ka shi ra mo ji.” Why wouldn’t they just use katakana?

Ok. That makes sense. I suppose it’s got to be on a purely case-by-case basis, and there must be some outside way that they inform the public of the pronunciation. I wonder how that generally happens?

They… do? As far as I can tell.


This page for buying it doesn’t even have “Initial” or “Inisharu” written anywhere.


What does “pronounce in romaji” mean? Romaji is just a way of writing hiragana/katakana using Roman characters. It doesn’t actually have different pronunciations.


Nah, Re:Zero is just Re:ゼロ. So similar, but it’s just an English word in English lol. (Unless Re also means something in Japanese? Idk).

They put katakana on top of the kanji to tell you how it’s supposed to be pronounced.

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It’s called furigana and they put kana above the kanji to tell the reader how to read the word. That’s the whole reason why there is the イニシャル above the kanji on the covers of this manga.


To give another example, in Aqua/Aria, a manga set on a terraformed Mars, they call Earth “Man Home”, and it’s written as 地球マンホーム. It’s a really nice way of explaining meaning (via the kanji) while indicating how the characters pronounce the word (via the furigana) without exposition.


What did I mean by that? I meant to pronounce a word as though it is written in romaji instead of kanji. I’m sorry that I was confusing/vague in the way I wrote that. I suppose I should have written “katakana” instead of romaji?

That still doesn’t make any sense. Romaji is just a way of writing things in latin letters. It doesn’t change pronunciation. Are you under the assumption that a word is pronounced differently when romanized?


I associate the western pronunciation with the use of romaji, so in my mind, seeing something written in romaji would indicate a western pronunciation, although I guess that’s not always true?

Is romaji often used to spell out kanji in Japan? I had been under the impression that it was indicative of a western pronunciation.

No, it’s not true.

Yes, romaji appears on signs so that people can read the names of places, etc., but the words are still pronounced the same. This is of course excepting people who simply just pronounce things wrong to begin with.


@anon54313967 covered the answer to this, but romaji isn’t used here. If it was, though, Japanese people would likely not pronounce it any differently.

Just as an example question, when you see the word ‘sushi’ written in latin letters you pronounce it differently to when you see it written as すし? To me, that wouldn’t make any sense.

Well, it’s not impossible for there to be a difference. “Karaoke” the English word and “karaoke” as romaji would be different.


That would fall under my category of

This is of course excepting people who simply just pronounce things wrong to begin with.

Karaoke being the most egregious example of westernized pronunciation.


Karaoke being the most egregious example of westernized pronunciation.

It’s not like regionalized pronunciation is something new. The western pronunciation of karaoke is just as valid as the japanese pronunciation of milk.

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Maybe so, but my point is that its pronunciation has little to do with it being written in latin characters. Because I doubt if anyone ran across the word ‘karaoke’ and had never heard anyone else ever pronounce the word before would just naturally choose the westernized pronunciation as the way to say it. Since the way it’s spelled and that pronunciation differs dramatically.