If you’re learning Japanese, one of the first things you should learn is how to introduce yourself! And you can’t do that unless you know your name in Japanese, right? Here is how to write your name in Japanese!
Introduction to Katakana
Japanese actually has 3 alphabets – Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. While Japanese names are written in Kanji, foreign names are written in Katakana. Foreign names are typically spelled out with katakana to make them match phonetically with Japanese. Andrew becomes Andoryuu (アンドリュー), Brad becomes Buraddo (ブラッド), and Carly becomes Kaarii (カーリー).
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One benefit of writing foreign names with katakana is that the reading and pronunciation is obvious for Japanese people, and just by looking at it, people also automatically know that it’s a foreign name. And, if you have a fairly common name, then chances are there’s a standard way of writing your name in katakana that Japanese people are already familiar with.
To write your name in Japanese, the easiest way is to find a Katakana letter that corresponds to the pronunciation of your Japanese name.
For example, if your name is “Maria,” look for the Katakana character for Ma, which is マ, then the character for Ri, which is リ, and then character for A, which is ア. You just need to put them together and write マリア for “Maria.”
Many foreign names have long vowels in them, such as Danny (Danī) or Nicole (Nikōru). In katakana, the long vowels (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū) are expressed with a hyphen. Danny is ダニー and Nicole is written as ニコール.
Also, keep in mind that L-sounds are turned into R’s to fit the Japanese alphabet sounds. So, Lauren becomes Rōren (ローレン) and Tyler becomes Tairā (タイラー).
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Now you try! Use a Katakana chart like the one below:
Here is a list of common foreign names that have been written out in Japanese katakana. Looking at these will help you figure out how your name should be pronounced in Japanese as well!
Male Names:Alexander (Arekusandā) –> アレクサンダーBryan (Buraian) –> ブライアンChris (Kurisu) –> クリスDaniel (Danieru) –> ダニエルHarry (Harī) –> ハリーJohn (Jyon) –> ジョンKyle (Kairu) –> カイルNoah (Noa) –> ノアTom (Tomu) –> トムWilliam (Uiriamu) –> ウィリアム
Female Names:Alexandria (Arekusandoria) –> アレクサンドリアBrittany (Buritonī) –> ブリトニーElizabeth (Erizabesu) –> エリザベスEmily (Emirī) –> エミリーHannah (Hanna) –> ハンナJessica (Jeshika) –> ジェシカKelsey (Kerushī) –> ケルシーLauren (Rōren) –> ローレンMeghan (Mēgan) –> メーガンSarah (Sara) –> サラ
Last Names:Anderson (Andāson) –> アンダーソンBrown (Buraun) –> ブラウンDavis (Deibisu) –> デイビスGarcia (Garushia) –> ガルシアHernandez (Herunandezu) –> ヘルナンデスJones (Jōnzu) –> ジョーンズMartin (Mātin) –> マーティンMiller (Mirā) –> ミラーSmith (Sumisu) –> スミスWilliams (Uiriamuzu) –> ウィリアムズWriting Your Full Name
When writing both first and last names together in Japanese, the names should be separated by this symbol: ・
For example, Allison Wilson (Arison Uiruson) would be written as アリソン・ウィルソン, and Jose Hernandez (Hose Herunandesu) is written as ホセ・ヘルナンデス.
And that’s it! You now have all the tools you need to both say and write your name in Japanese. Be sure to introduce yourself to new friends you meet when you visit Japan!
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