Japanese names

Learn more about Japanese  names and download a list of the 500 most common family names.

Japanese names
Japanese names are generally written in kanji, although hiragana and katakana are also sometimes used. The convention in writing Japanese names is that the surname should be written first, followed by the personal name. This practice of putting one’s family name first reveals the connection between Japanese names and the group-oriented culture in Japan.
Japanese names written in hiragana or katakana have only one possible pronunciation. However, Japanese names written in kanji can create problems for the reader, as there are often several possible readings. Some of these readings occur in no other situation and are called nanori. To try to simplify the process of deciphering Japanese kanji names, the government has recently restricted the number of kanji that can be used for naming children, but there are many others extant in adults' names.
Japanese family names
Until the Meiji period, most Japanese people did not have family names. They would instead refer to themselves as being from a particular region, or from a particular branch of business. (Interestingly, to some extent this practice still continues today, with Japanese business people introducing themselves as Mr. / Ms. such-and-such of XYZ Corporation.) The names taken by Japanese people in the Meiji period were either those already in use among the upper classes, or they were created by local wise men or even simply made up. This perhaps explains why there seems to be around 100,000 Japanese family names in existence.
Click here to see a list of the top 500 Japanese family names ordered by frequency, with their kanji and most common readings. (You will need to have Japanese fonts installed to read this page.)
Japanese first names
Japanese first names are as subject to the winds of fashion as Western first names. A survey of Japanese baby names shows a tendency to be influenced by both the names of famous personalities (such as a new royal baby) and those of manga and anime characters.
Related information
(Please note that some sites require Japanese fonts installed. japanese-name-translation.com is not responsible for the content of external sites.) More information about Japanese names