Wondering if there's a good trick for name kanji

Just imagine that it might be difficult, especially when they’re only used for names or have pronunciations that are only used for names


There’s one good trick that works every time: ask them how their name is pronounced.


What I’ve done for a few names is find anime/drama characters with that name and learned a bit about them (or I’d watched the show) and it’s given me more to associate with the names that just sounds. Maybe making up a character with a certain name could work too!
(sometimes name kanji pronounciations will just be rlly obscure tho)


I get what you’re saying, but I meant in the sense of coming across it in writing without furigana or something

I’m no expert in this, but I’ve noticed that names tend to use the opposite readings of what you’d expect.

For instance, in 田中 you’d expect it to use the on’yomi (tachū) since there’s only kanji. However, it’s read as Tanaka which are both of the kun’yomi readings.

Again, I’m no expert, but that’s what I’ve observed. Anyone who wants to correct me feel free.

I don’t think you need to stress about it too much. Even Japanese people need to ask each other all the time how their name is read, because usually they don’t have furigana in their 名刺 and the name has several possibilities and/or obscure kanjis. Nowadays you start to see English on the flipside, though.

The on’yomi for 田 is でん. But that quibble aside, names that don’t use nanori tend to use use kun’yomi. They’re Japanese names, not Chinese.

Here’s a list of the top 100 surnames in Japan (from Wikipedia), alongside which I’ve listed the reading type for each name. I kinda did this at a glance, so while I’m fairly sure it’s accurate, I may have confused a kun reading with a nanori here and there.

Rank Name Romanization Reading type
1 佐藤 Satō On
2 鈴木 Suzuki Kun
3 高橋 Takahashi Kun
4 田中 Tanaka Kun
5 渡辺 Watanabe Kun+Nanori
6 伊藤 Itō On
7 中村 Nakamura Kun
8 小林 Kobayashi Kun
9 山本 Yamamoto Kun
10 加藤 Katō On
11 吉田 Yoshida Kun
12 山田 Yamada Kun
13 佐々木 Sasaki On+Kun
14 山口 Yamaguchi Kun
15 松本 Matsumoto Kun
16 井上 Inoue Kun
17 木村 Kimura Kun
18 清水 Shimizu Nanori+Kun
19 Hayashi Kun
20 斉藤 Saitō On
21 斎藤 Saitō On
22 山崎 Yamazaki Kun
23 中島 Nakajima Kun
24 Mori Kun
25 阿部 Abe On+Kun
26 池田 Ikeda Kun
27 橋本 Hashimoto Kun
28 石川 Ishikawa Kun
29 山下 Yamashita Kun
30 小川 Ogawa Kun
31 石井 Ishii Kun
32 長谷川 Hasegawa Nanori+Nanori+Kun
33 後藤 Gotō On
34 岡田 Okada Kun
35 近藤 Kondō On
36 前田 Maeda Kun
37 藤田 Fujita Kun
38 遠藤 Endō On
39 青木 Aoki Kun
40 坂本 Sakamoto Kun
41 村上 Murakami Kun
42 太田 Ōta Nanori+Kun
43 金子 Kaneko Kun
44 藤井 Fujii Kun
45 福田 Fukuda Kun
46 西村 Nishimura Kun
47 三浦 Miura Kun
48 竹内 Takeuchi Kun
49 中川 Nakagawa Kun
50 岡本 Okamoto Kun
51 松田 Matsuda Kun
52 原田 Harada Kun
53 中野 Nakano Kun
54 小野 Ono Kun
55 田村 Tamura Kun
56 藤原 Fujiwara Kun
57 中山 Nakayama Kun
58 石田 Ishida Kun
59 小島 Kojima Kun
60 和田 Wada Kun
61 森田 Morita Kun
62 内田 Uchida Kun
63 柴田 Shibata Kun
64 酒井 Sakai Kun
65 Hara Kun
66 高木 Takagi Kun
67 横山 Yokoyama Kun
68 安藤 Andō On
69 宮崎 Miyazaki Kun
70 上田 Ueda Kun
71 島田 Shimada Kun
72 工藤 Kudō On
73 大野 Ōno Kun
74 宮本 Miyamoto Kun
75 杉山 Sugiyama Kun
76 今井 Imai Kun
77 丸山 Maruyama Kun
78 増田 Masuda Kun
79 高田 Takada Kun
80 村田 Murata Kun
81 平野 Hirano Kun
82 大塚 Ōtsuka Kun
83 菅原 Sugawara Kun
84 武田 Takeda Kun
85 新井 Arai Kun
86 小山 Koyama Kun
87 野口 Noguchi Kun
88 桜井 Sakurai Kun
89 千葉 Chiba Kun
90 岩崎 Iwasaki Kun
91 佐野 Sano On+Kun
92 谷口 Taniguchi Kun
93 上野 Ueno Kun
94 松井 Matsui Kun
95 河野 Kōno Nanori+Kun*
96 市川 Ichikawa Kun
97 渡部 Watanabe Nanori+Kun**
98 野村 Nomura Kun
99 菊地 Kikuchi Kun
100 木下 Kinoshita Kun

*Can also be read as Kawano, which is pure Kun
**Can also be read as Watabe, which is pure Kun


Ah, whoops :sweat:

I even looked up the on’yomi on both of them before and still made that mistake. Thanks for the correction. Nice to know I’m not entirely crazy on the kun’yomi thing though.

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