On Japanese names and advice for making one

First time starting a conversation, so I apologise in advance if it’s in the wrong category.

I’m interested in finding a Japanese name for myself. I think Japanese names are really beautiful, especially with how they incorporate elements in nature in them. So far here are some options I’m considering, and what I think they mean. So please correct me if I’m wrong!

霞海/春心/花霞 (かすみ) - Afterglow on the sea/heart of spring/flowers that are as vibrant as an afterglow - I really like how this sounds and the kanji evokes really gorgeous imagery, though I can’t decide on which kanji.
笑宙 (えそら) - Smiling universe - I like the way it sounds and how abstract yet beautiful it is. Apparently names starting with え give a feeling of creativity and someone who walks to the beat of their own drum. Isn’t that so cool?
清南 (きよな) - Clear south - Not sure exactly what it really means, but it sounds nice.

But I don’t know whether they sound weird or have unlucky/“bad” meanings that I’m unaware of (since I’m only on wanikani level 4 so I still interpret a lot of kanji in its Chinese context).
For context I was born in March, so it would be great if the name has spring connotations. I was also wondering if it’s possible to somehow turn Chinese characters into a Japanese name? For example the character “晴” is in my Chinese name, but I’m not sure if it even exists in Japanese.

Thanks! Hope this wasn’t too lengthy („• ֊ •„)


When in doubt, you can check jisho.org. But yes, it exists like a lot of other kanji.

Regarding the other names, did you come with them yourself or did you consult a library of existing names? To me the kanji choice + names sound quite unusual. For instance, kasumi would be just the kanji 霞 I feel.

Ah I see, thanks for clarifying. No, I found them through this website.

Thanks for this!


Okay, some of them seem to follow the trend my teacher explained to me recently with using English words as names with the Japanese equivalent in kanji.
Stuff like

  • 伝説 (Rejiendo)

Some of the other names look ok, but many have strange to me at least readings.

But also, will ping our resident @Jonapedia here :smiley:

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Not really an expert on Japanese names, but I’ll take a look…

I agree with this sentiment (e.g. 春心 as かすみ really surprised me), but there are a lot of readings that only work in names. I was just talking to a Japanese friend about the kanji for his name the other day, and he said that the kanji choice really was quite strange, to the point that he has to type a completely different reading in order to get his name to come up on an IME. Name readings can really be all over the place!

To be quite honest, I think that the meaning of a name can be more or less anything within the set of meanings of the kanji involved. The main things to consider are whether or not there’s a word that matches the name with a meaning you might not like (just a really random example here, but in an anime I’ve watched, there’s a girl named 寧子 – it makes sense since she’s one of those ‘perfect, polite, soft-spoken rich girl’ types, but the reading is… ねこ, as in ‘cat’) and what the typical meanings of the kanji used are, because that will affect people’s first impressions of the name.

Anyway, on to the names you’re thinking about:

I think I should preface this by saying that in Japanese, usually, what comes before modifies what comes after, not the other way around. Therefore, I’d agree with 春心 being interpreted as ‘heart of spring’ or ‘spring-like heart’ (so, you know, whatever connotations spring carries with it, like new life, newness/freshness in general, flowers, youth etc.), but not so much with the other interpretations.

霞 tends to mean ‘mist’ in Japanese, actually. It can also mean ‘morning/evening glow’ like it does in Chinese. That means that 霞海, for example, could evoke a ‘misty sea’ or a ‘sea under the morning/evening glow’ (imagine a sea at sunrise or sunset, essentially). For 花霞, I don’t think ‘flowery mist’ makes much sense, but I think it wouldn’t be surprising if people understood it as ‘a morning/evening glow that evokes flowers’ or even (because there is the adjective はなやか, meaning ‘gorgeous’ or ‘showy’, which can be written as 花やか or 華やか) ‘a morning/evening glow as beautiful as flowers’.

I like how this one sounds too. 宙 can also mean ‘sky’ or ‘air’, but it’s essentially the same thing in terms of what it evokes. Just one thing I’m curious about:

Where did you get this idea from? I personally don’t have this impression, even if, for example, え is the reading for 絵 (drawing, painting). It’s not a bad sound to have in a name by any means, but I just don’t think it has any special significance.

In Japanese, 清 doesn’t just carry the connotation of ‘clarity’, which is more common in Chinese. It also involves ‘clarity’ with respect to liquids, which implies ‘purity’. For example, きよい, which means ‘clean’ and even ‘unmuddied, unsullied’ is written as 清い, though 浄い is also possible. I would interpret this one as something like ‘pure south’, or ‘clear south’ in the sense of having a clear direction.

Now, I don’t know for sure if 南 has such a connotation in Japanese, but I think you might know that in Ancient China (and elsewhere in its sphere of influence), the reference direction for compasses was south (南), not north, and that historical convention persists in many expressions today. 指南 (literally ‘to point south’) is used in both Chinese and Japanese with reference to guidance: in Chinese, it refers to the standard or point of reference used as a guide (指南 is often used in book titles to mean ‘guide’); in Japanese, it refers to the act of providing instruction and guidance. As such, maybe 清南 can be interpreted as the name for someone who will never be lost in life or never lose a sense of purpose.

Most likely no, as far as what you’ve listed goes. I don’t have any such meanings in mind. Also, while I have just provided a few counterexamples above, most kanji mean the same thing in Chinese and in Japanese. There’s usually an 80% overlap at the very least, with certain exceptions. I’m a native Chinese speaker, so I should know, albeit I’m a bit rusty. (English is my main native language, but Mandarin Chinese has always been around in my life as well. I was raised bilingual.) Again, like I said earlier, it’s generally just a matter of kanji with ‘bad’ meanings or names whose readings might suggest something else.

The one other sort of ‘bad luck’ associated with names involves the number of strokes in the kanji. This convention exists in Chinese as well, actually, though I don’t know any of the rules, and I don’t know if the rules are the same in Chinese and Japanese. It’s essentially about lucky/unlucky numbers, and probably what they sound like. For example, in Chinese, people love the number 8 because it sounds a lot like 発(Japanese)=發(Traditional Chinese)=发(Simplified Chinese), which is associated with windfalls and gaining wealth (發財=发财; not bothering with the Japanese character set this time because the word doesn’t exist in Japanese), and if you combine it with other numbers in the right way (my mum would know because she has to deal with these superstitions at work), you can get something that sounds like ‘forever/enduringly prosperous’ (I forget which number sounds like that… probably 9, for 久). Given all that, maybe people try to avoid a number of strokes ending in 4. Who knows?

Yeah, sure. Most Chinese people in Japan simply have their name read using on’yomi. Mine sounds like the name of a temple in Japan if you do that though. Hahaha. There’s even this Taiwanese-Japanese singer whose name sounds pretty normal in both languages (翁 鈴佳 – おきな れいか in Japanese, and 佳 is a very common character in Chinese names for women, as is the sound líng).

For this specifically,

yes, it does exist. It’s the kanji for 晴れる(はれる)= ‘(of the sky, the weather) to clear up’. (Did I mention that kanji often have the same meaning in Japanese and Chinese? Quite seriously, at times, when I’m stuck because of missing vocabulary in Japanese, I just throw a random two-character Chinese word + する into the sentence, and quite frequently, it’s just fine.)

Anyhow, if you look up Japanese names for girls (I guessed from the names you listed that this might be what you want; my apologies if I got that wrong) containing 晴, you’ll find pages like this listing names like 晴日 (はるか; kinda predictable as a reading if you know common names). For boys as well, the はる reading is quite common, as is the せい reading (appears for both sexes). So yeah, feel free to use that kanji if you like.

Hope this helps? Again, I’m definitely no expert. One thing I can say you probably shouldn’t do though…

This is almost definitely going to be considered a きらきら name (an unconventional, flashy-sounding name). Maybe it’s a trend, but I think people probably won’t take the name very seriously. It’s fine to use names that sound common enough in English as well (e.g. Mari, Erina, Naomi), but a name that’s obviously not Japanese at all would seem bizarre if you ask me. (Heck, my own Chinese name sounds weird with on’yomi as a Japanese name, even if I’ve had it since birth and I’m proud of it, so if I ever needed an official Japanese name, I might have to rethink the reading or something.)

On the other hand though… no Japanese person expects a foreigner (other East Asians included) to have a conventionally Japanese name, so it’s not necessarily a concern, I guess. We just need to avoid sounding chuuni :laughing:


Right, for anything vaguely approaching official, the expectation for westerners at least is “use your name in katakana”, I think?


Yes, 伝説 would be considered a きらきら name. Same as 王冠 (tiara :joy: ). There is a load of names like this.

The opposite spectrum is very meaningful, beautiful names which nowadays sound plain and old-fashioned and these two people would avoid according to my teacher.

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What about me where the katakana version butchers the name so badly that I hate the sound of it?

Yeah, this is mostly why I’m confused about names in Japanese. But also why it’s cool, because you get to take more creative liberty with it (I think)!

I never knew that! And thanks for clarifying what 霞 means. Which of the three kanjis for かすみ do you think would look the most pleasant (as in, the kanji combination feels “smoothest”?)

I got it from this website, though its legitimacy might be debatable…

I totally forgot about this! Definitely a face-palm moment. Now that I know what it means 清南 sounds like such a meaningful name.

I was raised bilingual as well, but I’m a little more comfortable with cantonese, which certainly helps with some onyomi pronunciations.

That sounds like a super smart hack :open_mouth: though I’ll be sure not to rely on it, haha.

Thank you so much for replying! This was way more insight than I had expected, so I appreciate it a lot!! :heart_hands:


Uh… I think 霞海 is the easiest to guess the reading of, but I like 花霞 the best.

I see! Hm… I’d say it’s just an opinion. Hahaha. But maybe there’s some sort of conventional basis for it.

Yeah, true! The Chinese dialects other than Mandarin I heard while growing up definitely help a lot with on’yomi for me too.

No problem! You’re very welcome. :smiley:

Yup, and honestly, there can be other reasons for using katakana even if you have a name written in kanji. My friend has official English and Chinese names, like me, but he opted to use katakana in Japan because it helped with making sure people could see the link to his English name (which is the one that most of us use more on official documents in my country).

I believe you can register an official alias (通称, つうしょう) at the municipal office if you’re living in Japan. No idea what exactly you can use it for, nor what Japanese people think of the choices people make for their aliases/preferred nicknames though.

What I mean by that: I have a friend who lived in China for a year, and her classmates and teachers helped her come up with a Chinese name while she was there. I also tend to think Chinese people don’t really find it too strange when foreigners take on Chinese names, as long as they make sense. What Japanese people think? I have no idea, and for that matter, I’m actually curious what recipients think when I end off my Japanese emails with my Chinese name + katakana for my English name. (I’ve done it a few times at this point, because I do like my name and I so rarely get to write it in hanzi/kanji nowadays.)


Can’t you make it so it’s the closest possible based on sound instead of romanization? If that’s your issue.

No, it’s just impossible to say. It has a “v”, it has a vowel that doesn’t exist in Japanese, and it ends in a consonant. Of course you can come up with something “close”, but it makes my blood boil just hearing it because of how much it gets butchered.

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ヴ? :eyes:

That doesn’t mean you have to take a Japanese name, though. There isn’t a nickname that you would find acceptable?

I’ve been told that most Japanese people pronounce that with a b, not a v.

I’ve thought of my screen name (which is pronounced exactly like スージ), but I’m not sure how weird that would be.

Nah, it’s somewhere inbetween, but definitely more v than b. ヴィーガン for example sounds quite close to v to me: Pronunciations for ヴィーガン

I think your name actually converts pretty easily and sounds very similar, except for the extra vowel at the end, but that’s just katakanization. Forvo also has recordings for names.

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Yeah, they have ざじずぜぞ, surely they can do ヴ.

I’d say デイヴィッド, for example.
Though the extra vowels are the common complaint for names.

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Exactly. Pronunciations for デイヴィッド (from デイヴィッド・ブルーム to デイヴィッド・ブルーム) is pretty mild on the “butchering” scale I feel. I had a friend named Florian, who just gave up and settled with フロ :laughing:. I think he liked the nickname, though.

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I think this depends partly on the person. Wiktionary says

This is a relatively recent addition to kana usage to represent the non-native sound vu. As such, this is only found in borrowed words. Some speakers, especially older people, may pronounce this as /bu/, [bɯ̟ᵝ] and replace it with (bu) with the same pronunciation.

So somebody younger or who’s studied English is more likely to have that sound in their pronunciation.

(Side note: “not the way I say it” happens in English too – my first name is Peter and as a Southern British English speaker I pronounce it with a clear ‘t’ sound, but Americans generally flap the ‘t’ so it sounds more like ‘d’.)