Reading Names in Japanese

Hi Guys,

Just a quick question here. In English and most other (I guess Indo-European) languages we mark words that denote names with a capital letter, however, however, no such thing seems to be at work in japanese. So I was wondering whether there is some way to know that a certain word in Japan denotes a name? Especially when names are named after words such as ‘Hana’.

Thanks in advance.

For me it’s usually like this: if I see 4 japanese kanji and they make absolutely no sense in terms of meaning then it’s probably a name lol


If I see something like 君、さん、様、殿 as a suffix, I take it that the preceding word is most probably a name. Similar with any other suffix that might be used in an office environment like 部長 etc.


Thanks for your answers, I had this problem while reading the name of the movie ‘おおかみこどもの雨と雪’, that gave me no clue whatsoever.

Pretty much context, once you actually start reading and you know a good amount of vocab, it’s not hard to tell when something’s a name.

おおかみこども=おおかみ子供 = wolf children. So translating literally it’s “Wolf Children’s Rain & Snow” though looks like the studio just decided to leave it at “Wolf Children” for the English translation.

Yeah but Yuki and Ame were the names of the children who were wolves, so the translation would be ‘(The) Wolf Children Yuki and Ame’. That is why I found it confusing, that there was no way to tell that 雨 and 雪 denotes people, and not just Rain and Snow.

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Yeah, that specific problem may never go away.

It shouldn’t kill reasonably reading the language, but you may never be sure whether it’s “dramatic title with cool adjectives” or “dramatic title with cool names”. This may also trip you up occasionally when reading fiction. Even then it likely won’t often do more than slow you down.

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Oh didn’t know that was the kids’ names. I mean the same could happen in English with these names that are common words. This made up title “The Story of Rain and Snow” - I wouldn’t guess Rain and Snow are people lol


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