Name in japanese

I have a Chinese name as I’m half Chinese. I’d like to know if anyone can help me figure out if it can be translated into kanji and if so what it’d sound like. My Chinese name is 謝奾妮. It’s pronounced xie-xian ni. My surname being 謝.


As you might already know, most foreign names are written using katakana, not kanji. The one exception to this seems to be Chinese names of public figures, which according to this op-ed in Japan Times are sometimes written using the same characters as they would in Chinese but pronounced using the most common Japanese readings of those characters. So if you want to preserve the meaning and are a reasonably famous person, use the same characters and accept that it will probably be pronounced differently. Otherwise just use katakana.


謝 and 妮 have corresponding readings しえ (or しぇ) and に in Japanese, so I guess it would be fine to use them. 奾 doesn’t seem to exist in Japanese, so I don’t know what would happen with that.


Sure it does, it’s just extremely uncommon. Reading is せん.


When I went to Japanese school the Chinese students used their kanji names with Japanese readings. People from Hong Kong used English names and wrote those in katakana.

I write my last name (Japanese) in kanji and my first name generally in katakana but I will use hiragana if I’m feeling like sticking it to the man that day.


On your 在留(ざいりゅう)カード you can use kanji if you have a Chinese family register… or something like that. Immigration would have more information.

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Thanks for all the replies and help!

You need to have the nationality for that, though, and China does not allow double nationality. Based on what OP said, it doesn’t sound like they have that nationality (but I may be wrong), so their 在留カード will have katakana. However, they are perfectly free to use kanji in everyday life, except on official documents where they need to match their 在留カード. That last bit is super annoying for me (and you too I guess).


Yes it depends on nationality. I believe only “kanji” countries can use it. That being said you can always get an alias from city hall. Many of my friends have kanji aliases. You can have on your drivers license, my number card, registered inkan and so forth.


Yes I’m annoyed that 1. I’m not officially listed in the family register but simply noted as my husbands wife and the mother of the children. It’s super stupid and… racist? idk but I f$^$# hate it. Family registries are a weird throw back to edo and I have no idea why they even exist these days.

  1. Since I am MARRIED to a man with kanji on his family registry shouldn’t that suffice to list my last name as kanji?

I need to stop typing before I start throwing things. Man I really hate Japan sometimes.


That’s what I heard too.

OH!! I’ve been thinking of doing that for years, but my city hall only say that it’s a thing they do without giving any details about how to do it. Do you mind giving some details on the application procedure? I guess it might interest OP as well if they indeed do not have Chinese nationality.

I know, right. But they are like “no kanji in your country, no kanji for you”. Ah well, I am past the anger part of it. The worst part is when filling a form with the whole family (kids included) on it, and I’m the only one with no kanji.


If I was king of Japan I would do away with family registeries. They are super unnecessary and don’t translate well to most other government documents. Just issue individual marriage and birth certificates. They already have the capacity to do so and it would be one less record to keep.

Alas, I do not know how to register an alias. I’m sure if one googles around there are probably websites (maybe even in English or Chinese) that detail someone’s personal experience. But since bureaucracy loves to “update” policy I think it would be best to decide to make an alias and have city hall deal with it then.


I do not have Chinese Nationality, my mother is from Taiwan but immigrated to the US. I am American. I just wanted to know if my name could be used in Japanese kanji. It seems like it’d be way easier to use katakana. Thank you all so much for your help!

You can use kanji, just not officially unless you have an alias which city hall could help you register.

Interesting. The link says that the kanji is a hyougai kanji (表外字), meaning that it can’t legally be used in names in family registries.

However, there are a few caveats:

  1. I can’t seem to tell if the restriction applies to the full name, or only to the last name.
  2. There seems to be some indication that the restriction doesn’t apply to imported Chinese names, if you are from a kanji-using country.

The Wikipedia page on 表外字 mentions the following:

Modern Mandarin Chinese borrowings into Japanese are typically rendered with katakana as per any gairaigo, however they may be sometimes stylistically spelled with their original Chinese characters and given a non-standard borrowed pronunciation, many of these characters are technically classified as Hyōgaiji due to the difference in common character use between the languages.

Of course, as @monkeyshine89 says, none of this applies to you unless you’re trying to register your name with the government, so whatever feels good for you is just fine. :wink: Of course, as with any name localization, it is recommended to pass it by a native or two to ensure there aren’t any unintended or awkward nuances.

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