View Full Version : Are there any rules regarding Japanese names and surnames?

02-23-2012, 04:12 AM
Simple Question:

Are there any rules when assigning a character a first name and a last name? Do they need to fit together?


Say I have a character named Takahashi. Am I allowed to throw any old surname I can find off a Google search onto that name, such as Miyagi or Kanagawa, or do only certain surnames fit with certain first names?

02-23-2012, 06:40 AM
Is this for a manga you are making? If it is I'm going to have to move this to either the writers section or manga works. If this is a discussion type thread it can stay here but then the question needs to be changed to start the discussion I think (I could be wrong on that. For all I know this could be a hot button issue about the right and wrong ways of choosing a child's name or something.)

02-23-2012, 09:10 AM
Well if it's anything like honorifics, it depends on the child's gender, social standing, age, occupation, and pokemon type.

But yeah. What is this for?

02-23-2012, 03:30 PM
It's not really for a Manga I'm making, more like something I was just wondering. Although I suppose it's knowledge I'll use for one eventually, you can go ahead and move it if you want.

02-23-2012, 09:08 PM
Some people avoid the General Discussion because the fighting so picking the right section is important because some people only stick to certain areas and they might be the best people to answer. Well since you said charecter I will assume this belongs to the writers area. If not sorry kodos.

02-24-2012, 06:02 PM
For naming in Japanese, I guess it just depends on what you want to do with the names. I'm not an expert but I'd go with Kodos's explanation just to be safe. xD

02-24-2012, 06:54 PM
Psy u done fucked up, son. Moving this back to GD. :3

I want you to say 15 Hail Marys.

02-25-2012, 05:06 AM
Where are all our Japanese members for this one? >_>

My personal UNPROFESSIONAL opinion. I think you'd probably want a name that goes well with the last name. :/ But if you look at say, Yoko Ono's name, the Kanji for "yo" I guess mean's Ocean and it's used with the Kanji "ko" for child=Ocean Child. But if you use a different Kanji for "yo," like the one meaning "sun" then it's "Sun Child" (I looked this all up, so I'm just going off the translations. That's coupled with "Ono" which, depending on the spelling/Kanji (or is it the hiragana? Never see it written, and I'm obviously not Japanese) means either "Small field," or if it's a long "o," large field. But it looks like Ono can be used interchangeably as either a first or surname. Sooooo...maybe some can be both? Like Tyler is both, or Winston?

We need some professional input here, I don't think my thoughts are gonna cut it :/

02-25-2012, 10:17 AM
What there are no rules. Just honorific rules.

02-25-2012, 11:12 AM
Google, how I love thee:

Kanji names in Japan are governed by the Japanese Ministry of Justice's rules on kanji use in names. As of October 2004 there are 2,232 "name kanji" (the jinmeiyō kanji (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jinmeiyo_kanji)) and "commonly used characters" (the jōyō kanji (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyo_kanji)) used in personal names, and the Japanese government plans to increase this list by 578 kanji in the near future. This would be the largest increase since World War II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II). Only kanji which appear on the official list may be used in given names. This is intended to ensure that names can be readily written and read by those literate in Japanese. Rules also govern names considered to be inappropriate; for example, in 1993 two parents who tried to name their child Akuma (悪魔, which literally means "devil") were prohibited from doing so after a massive public outcry.

02-25-2012, 11:22 AM
Name it Asura instead

02-29-2012, 07:18 AM
No name it Azula

02-29-2012, 11:51 AM
I think the name hase to describe on thing about your person. For example Ihave a character named Jichou Murasaki. Jicho meaning Raven and Murasaki meaning purple. Jichou's hair is purple and likes ravens :) hoped i helped.

02-29-2012, 05:17 PM
How would his parents know before he was born that he would like ravens? And many (most?) babies are bald when they are born.
Honestly, OP, what's this for? Most likely as long as you use proper names - as in make sure you don't use a surname for a given name and suchlike - you should be fine. If you are setting a story in a fictional analogue to Japan or modern day Japan, people are not really going to nitpick, and besides, modern Japanese people, I'm sure, name their kids more or less the same way most people do - either in honor of someone, or by euphonics (what sounds nice). If you're doing something historical, well then I imagine you have a lot more research to do besides naming conventions, and in the ultimate scheme of things, I highly doubt that even in a historical piece anyone is going to get too anal about names.

Also: Don't pull a Daikatana. Do no name a black man - or anyone - Superfly Johnson.

02-29-2012, 05:23 PM
Don't listen to Kodos it's okay to call black people Superfly Johnson

02-29-2012, 05:27 PM
If whatever you are working on is voiced please make sure the names are pronounced correctly. I was playing Mass Effect 2 and that keiji guy going kaSOOOOmi was killing me.

02-29-2012, 05:29 PM

02-29-2012, 05:32 PM
Its just especially awful because the dude himself is japanese. Or at least space japanese.

02-29-2012, 05:32 PM
Kasumi speaks with an English accent whaddya want

02-29-2012, 08:59 PM
For girls, there's usually a -ko after the main part of the name because "ko" translate to child. "ka" is also used. Examples: Haruka (flower child), Umiko (ocean child), Akiko, Emiko, etc. Some guys may be named after being the first, second, third and so on born child of the family. Kenichi for example means "first son". There are also names that parents want their child to become or aspire to like Akira means "bright one".

Anyways, I would suggest you just do a search on japanese names or get your hands on a japanese dictionary to get some naming ideas. Wikipedia has a nice piece about Japanese names. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_name)

02-29-2012, 10:01 PM
Lately I've been practicing names by naming each character I doodle. I just thought it to be an important part of putting together a story. I had heard somewhere (can't remember where) that the Japanese government had some sort of law restricting which Kanji can be used to actually name somebody, so I became paranoid that there may be other rules about names that I was missing. Then, this post happened. I think everything's been cleared up now so thanks everyone for the help.

02-29-2012, 10:17 PM
I had heard somewhere (can't remember where) that the Japanese government had some sort of law restricting which Kanji can be used to actually name somebody

I can't tell if you're being serious or not but somebody mentioned that in this thread

03-01-2012, 12:02 PM
I can't tell if you're being serious or not but somebody mentioned that in this thread

Yes I'm aware.

I was just saying I had also heard that before I even made this thread, thus I made this thread in the first place. Since people were asking what this thread was for.

03-08-2012, 05:57 PM
Article about Japanese baby name law. (http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/07/03/mf.baby.naming.laws/index.html)
Wikipedia entry about naming restrictions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_name) (look under "restrictions")

03-10-2012, 02:02 AM
If this is for something you intend on writing, I would seriously re-think using Japanese names. If you use purely Japanese names in a setting that isn't even remotely Japanese it doesn't fit and is very disjointed. Now, for using the names in a Japanese setting...

Unless you really know cultures inside and out, I would stay far away from using other cultures for your setting. I mean, to a non-Japanese reader it may be the best thing for them since the invention of sliced bread. But for a Japanese reader they would pick up glaring problems within your writing that may not be such a glaring issue with a non-Japanese reader. So unless you really, and I mean really, fucking study cultures; I would stay away from it. And I'm not just saying this with Japanese settings and names and such, I'm talking about any culture that is not your own.

I think what is best for writing fantasy, because it's manga therefore it is fantasy, you would be best creating your own world and mixing in a whole lot of cultures. Take some things from Indian culture and mix it with Japanese, like housing; Japanese styled homes with Indian decoration can look really cool and there aren't really glaring issues as you're creating your own culture. Just make sure you don't go like, "I'M WRITING ABOUT A NORDIC SAMURAI FROM IRELAND WHO LIKES TO EAT PAPADAMS HUR DUR...", try and keep things within reason.

03-10-2012, 07:22 AM
You could probably get away with Chinese Names

03-10-2012, 04:07 PM
I think naming Japanese characters can be really tough for
non-native Japanese speakers...

For example, putting "...ko" at the end of girl's name makes it
sound a bit old-fashioned. (still being used though)
From my view, it is similar to
naming someone "Margarette" or "Rosemary" in English.

(btw i actually like Aether's idea!! Nordic Samurai sounds too cool to resist :cat_thumbsup:)

When i went to japan this winter to c my grandparents,
i couldn't read most of the newborn babies' names
on the newspaper (>~<)
and it's not because i can't read kanji...
how come 太郎 (tarou) becomes Leira????

03-10-2012, 04:58 PM
(btw i actually like Aether's idea!! Nordic Samurai sounds too cool to resist :cat_thumbsup:)
No, it's a stupid idea. It was an example of what not to do.

03-10-2012, 05:48 PM
Im stealing the nordic samurai idea its mine

03-10-2012, 05:52 PM
Im stealing the nordic samurai idea its mine