"Your name in Kanji" what?

I’m currently visiting Japan and one thing I’ve noticed in gift shops, are these “Your Name in Kanji” keychain, stamps etc… what? How is that even possible? My Kanji skills are still super beginner so I can’t read the Kanji suggested for “Stephanie” or “Lily” or “John” to verify, but they’re probably random or non sense words, right?


They’re ateji, phonetic kanji. The meanings are ignored. In fact all hiragana and katakana came from kanji originally, and their shapes were simplified (like カ in katakana came from 加, which has the reading of ka, and the hiragana か is just a different simplification of the same kanji). When Japan imported kanji, they used kanji phonetically for a while before developing the kana. And you can still use those now for that same feeling.

It does look like you’re doing it for the novelty factor when you do though. It’s not a normal way to write foreign names.


Thank you that explains it! I kinda cringed when I saw it tbh


Yeah, it’s a little strange if someone buying it has no idea what they’re even looking at. But I thought it was fine at something like the Kanji Museum in Kyoto, where you can learn the history of how kanji were used.


One of my adult 英語会話 students drew a picture of a famous mountain range for me before the class finished and he wrote my name with kanji he thought fit. I’ll have to find the artwork at my desk this evening, but I’ll try and post the photo later.

Anyways, I thought it was really kind and cool that he did that and it is a good memory for me.


It wouldn’t impossible to look up the meaning of your name, and then find a corresponding Kanji. It might be fun to adopt the reading of the Kanji as a student name while studying Japanese.


I can’t think of many examples that wouldn’t just be weird and confusing though.


Some of the random Facebook like-harvesting posts with the “your name in kanji” lists aren’t even ateji. They’re just random kanji matched directly to letters of the alphabet (i.e. not syllables).

Aye. My surname is patronymic, so it wouldn’t work at all. And my first name would just be, like… 神は神


Yeah, can’t speak to those, but I would trust gift shops in Japan to use ateji properly to some extent, because the employees would be able to tell if the readings were completely out of whack.


For me it also wouldn’t really work. I would be 梨ブルーベリー since there is no Kanji for blueberry or berry that I know of. :wink:

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When I was in school studying Japanese, one of the classes made us spend time on making our own name up in Kanji using any kanji that had readings that corresponded with your name in Kana. Then just picking whichever kanji’s meaning you liked best.

I ended up with nine squirrels in a rice field. 九栗鼠田 which I thought was pretty funny since 鼠 is the kanji for rat, which happens to be my Chinese zodiac sign.

Obviously, I never use this as it was just a way for us to see how kanji worked in names and a little fun. I just write my name in katakana, クリスタ.

(I did however, use the name Risu for a while as a nickname on the internet. It was short lived however.)



In that case, I’d be 神様は王様を守ってください. Or just 神王守 for short. :slightly_smiling_face:

That said, you can apparently write blueberry as 西洋酸の木. Though that might be the tree’s name.


My surname is Raippalinna which translates in English literally as Slashcastle/Slashfort, but basically it means just Prison (It’s a fortress where people get the slash). If I had to take Japanese surname, I would maybe choose 牢城 with kunyomi reading of Hitoyashiro.

Only thing with that worries me is the similar sound of 人柱 Hitobashira which is burying people alive under structures :slight_smile:

For first name I’ve settled with ヤルマリ as that is common kanafication with existing examples from historical figures and doesn’t throw Japanese off with pronounciation.


I have a vietnamese first name which translates roughly to “bright, smart, wise”. In chinese it would be Ming, and here 明 is often used. As for the pronounciation, I would probably choose a typical female name pronounciation “Akashi”.
My last name translates to “goose” so I’m wondering if I should maybe choose 雁 (wild goose), but according to Jisho it has a vulgar secondary meaning, so not sure about that or 鴨 (duck).
雁明 would be then “gan akashi” or 鴨明 “kamo akashi”


Well kinda, since my username is actually a translation of my real name. Though I could use いちご for my first name, too.


A l l h a i l t h e w i s e g o o s e


I found it pretty cringey, too, but my calligraphy teacher LOVED doing it when she taught classes for groups of tourists. And I saw something about a little studio in Asakusa where they’ll take some time to ask about your personality and then choose kanji that are suitable to you. So I guess one’s mileage may very.


Your name is Strawberry Blueberrypear? :stuck_out_tongue:



This is quite common in mixed families. Many give their children western names and than choose kanji. It’s a bit different from the tourists though since there is one parent who is Japanese and a lot of thought goes into choosing an appropriate kanji. For example, friends named their kids Paul and Melissa. I’m not sure of the kanji, but they definitely have them. I guess I did the same but I made sure to choose names that matched the Japanese pronunciation. I wanted names that would be said and spelled the same regardless of Japanese and English.