Learning 人名用/じんめいよう

Hi WaniKani community!

I just hit level 4 and still have a long way to go but I wanted to see how you’d spell Aeryka (pronounced Erika) using just kanji and I came across other Japanese women with the name using these kanji: 衿花 the second is simple, it’s flower but the first is a じんめいよう, a name kanji and according to Wikipedia there are 863 of these. Pretty sure WaniKani doesn’t teach these and they’re definitely lower priority but at some point I’d like to familiarize myself with these. Are there any good resources or methods for doing so? Thank you.

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I’m not quite sure about the effectiveness of studying the 人名用漢字 on their own.
Most of them have quite a few readings, and there will be many cases where those readings overlap.

If you really want to study names it’d probably be best to learn the full names instead of their individual kanji, together with the most common or some of the most common readings for them.

But even if you do study those names, there will be many cases in which you just can’t deduct the reading of a name just based on the kanji. There’s a reason many forms will have a field specifically just for the reading of your name. So it just comes down to getting a ton of exposure and just remembering the names as they come up through your studies/travels/life.


This is super helpful thank you. I kinda suspected this was going to be the case but I felt it might be a good question to ask nonetheless. Also the numerous nanori for a kanji like 一 even though some are not common still boggles my mind.

Whatever resources you’re using will probably introduce new characters with new names from time to time, so while studying you can already get used to quite a few different names.
And of course when reading or when watching a show (with subtitles) you’ll also learn to recognise and read the characters names. If you’re into Drama or other Slice of Life related content you’ll probably learn quite a few useful-to-know names as well.

And if you’re ever unsure about the reading of someone’s name, I doubt they’d mind if you asked them.


恵梨華 is another spelling, and doesn’t use 人名用. There’s a famous actress whose name is spelled that way.

恵 - Level 37 - Favor (favor, blessing, grace, kindness)
梨 - Level 44 - Pear (pear tree)
華 - Level 31 - Showy (splendor, flower, petal, shine, …)


Ohhh this is great thank you! So that brings another question to mind, is there a way to look up what are the most common ways to spell the same name? Say you have えりか and wanna check what kanji are most commonly used to write it is there a way to do so?

You could just do this: https://jisho.org/search/えりか%20%23names

No data on how common they are though, I don’t think. But hey, it can be fun to see all the crazy ways you COULD write the name… :slight_smile:

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Oh hey didn’t know jisho.org could do that! 394 names found LOL!

Edit: after several pages found my original kanji usage

The only data I’m aware of that’s ranked by frequency is in paid lists. Kanshudo has one, but anything beyond the top 100 names is only available on their Pro subscription ($3/mo). I don’t know how good it is since I’m not subscribed. Probably the best list is cjk.org, which is a Linguistics institute, but their data also isn’t public.


http://japanese.reader.bz/ used to be my go-to site for turning romaji names into kanji, but right now it’s just showing a blank page. Not sure if that’s temporary or permanent…

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Cultural note: I understand the attraction of trying to figure out how to write your name using kanji and its fun to sit and think about how to combine your name using kanji with various meanings. THAT SAID. If you ever find yourself living in Japan, it would be good to note that in most cases, you should probably write your name in katakana. From a legal standpoint. In my case, even though I have a fully Japanese name (No, I’m not sharing it, yes, you can probably guess 西 is in it), since I was born abroad and my name on my birth certificate (and passport) is registered in romaji, I’m legally obliged to continue to write my name in katakana on official forms despite having kanji for my name. (I think I can jump through some hoops to allow me to write my name in kanji, but then I’d have to change my name on everything from my hanko to my wedding registration and bank accounts and thats never any fun)

But still, have fun finding a fun combination to make ‘Erika’ using kanji with meanings that reflect who you are. It’s a lot of fun.

I once had a student years ago named 愛理夏 (or was it 愛莉夏?or 愛梨夏?) I can’t remember the middle kanji but it stood out to me cause I kept messing it up and reading it Airika


Is it 西何? :slightly_smiling_face:


I’m voting for 西W帽子 :wink:


:hushed::anguished::flushed::scream_cat:HOW DID YOU KNOW!?!??
But seriously, I wish. That would be an awesome conversation starter.


I had a giggle at 西何, is 何, ever used in names??? Thank you though Nishi that was very informative and interesting. I’m very unlikely to actually move to Japan but I would like to visit some day.

Took me far too long to work out what was going on here. :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe 西笑帽子

Well, none of the top five thousand most common family names use it, so I’m gonna go out on a limb and say… no, probably not.


I feel slightly disappointed now that I can’t have 西W帽子 as my username


If you happen to be into anime/manga/etc, researching the names of characters can be a fun way to learn name kanji. Fortunately (in the case of reading) and unfortunately (in the case of studying), a lot of character names are usually fine-tuned to be “cleaner,” meaning you won’t be exposed to some of the nonsense first names parents will give (like 芙蓉 with a reading of「あおい」).

For example, two characters with the name “Erika” written in kanji:
From Fortune Arterial, Sendou Erika (千堂 瑛里華).
From Kaichou wa Maid-Sama, Ono Erika (小野 江梨花).

Last names are going to be tremendously easier to read than first names, especially if you look at the names of real people. In anime, names are usually more formulaic, so it’s not as bad.

I don’t know how useful or accurate it is in terms of frequency in names, but I like scrolling through the “Names” section on tangorin.com. =)

And on learning names, it’s really exposure and familiarizing yourself with kun-yomi, since usually kun-yomi is used over on-yomi. But there are always exceptions and weird readings… And people who have the same kanji for their names but their pronunciation is different. So, of course, a lot of reading of people’s names in manga, dramas, musicians, history, etc., and whatever other way you enjoy studying kanji. =)

Actually, Enamdict has 53 (but they are probably super rare, I wonder where they got all the names from?):