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My middle name is Asano, named after my great grandmother, but my family has lost the ability to write Japanese and not sure exactly what kanji she used in her name. Am I able to decide my own characters for Asano, like 朝野? The same goes for my little brother whose middle name is Kenjirō. Is it okay to use the characters 健次郎?

Thank you!

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    朝野 would be most certainly recognized as a last name, not a female given name.
    – aguijonazo
    Jul 27, 2023 at 16:04
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    浅野 is the most realistic option for Asano (136000 people with that surname as opposed to 3500 using 朝野). Kenjirō can be written in an infinite number of ways; that the first is 健 is highly probable but distinguishing 健二郎 from 健次郎 would be hard. Jul 27, 2023 at 16:23

3 Answers 3

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It depends on what you're trying to do.

Prescriptively speaking, the kanji of a person's name is fixed in one way. It is not allowed to be changed freely. If your ancestor's name was actually 麻乃 but you used 朝野, that is "wrong" in principle. If you are compiling an official history of your lineage, you should never assign arbitrary kanji to her name. You should do your research.

However, if you simply want to casually assign some kanji for fun, then no one is going to stop you from doing so. I can assure you that both 朝野 and 健次郎 are reasonable and natural choices. But there are many other possible kanji combinations that can be used for Asano and Kenjiro, so the chance that they are actually correct would be less than 50%.

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ENAMDICT has the following:

あさの /(f) Asano/
あさ乃 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
アサノ /(f) Asano/
亜沙乃 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
亜紗乃 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
阿佐野 [あさの] /(s) Asano/
旭乃 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
安佐乃 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
安沙乃 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
浅の [あさの] /(s) Asano/
浅乃 [あさの] /(f,s) Asano/
浅之 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
浅埜 [あさの] /(s) Asano/
浅野 [あさの] /(p,s,f) Asano/
旦乃 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
旦野 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
朝希 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
朝乃 [あさの] /(f,s) Asano/
朝之 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
朝埜 [あさの] /(s) Asano/
朝野 [あさの] /(p,s,f) Asano/
麻乃 [あさの] /(f,s) Asano/
麻之 [あさの] /(u) Asano/
麻埜 [あさの] /(s) Asano/
麻野 [あさの] /(f,s) Asano/
晨乃 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
晨野 [あさの] /(f) Asano/
淺野 [あさの] /(s) Asano/

And:

絢赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
絢二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
絢二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
鎌治郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
乾志郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
乾次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
乾二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
健司郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
健至郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
健次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
健治朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
健治郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
健赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
健二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
健二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
兼次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
兼治郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
兼赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
兼二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
兼二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
堅次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
堅治郎 [けんじろう] /(g) Kenjirō/
堅赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
堅二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
堅二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
建司郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
建次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
建赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
建二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
建二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
憲次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
憲治郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
憲赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
憲二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
憲二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
懸事郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
研次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
研治郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
研赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
研二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
研二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
絹次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
謙志郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
謙次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
謙治郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
謙赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
謙二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
謙二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
賢次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
賢治郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
賢赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
賢二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
賢二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
顕次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
顕治朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
顕赦 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
顕仁郎 [けんじろう] /(g) Kenjirō/
顕二朗 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
顕二郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/
權治郎 [けんじろう] /(g) Kenjirō/
縣次郎 [けんじろう] /(m) Kenjirō/

So both 朝野 and 健次郎 are listed there.

(m = "male given name or forename", f = "female given name or forename", u = "unclassified name", g = "given name or forename, gender not specified", s = "family or surname", p = "place name")

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Yes and no.

Your middle name is "Asano" spelt in English and does not have any kanji characters. Even if you knew the correct characters of your great grandmother's name, they would not be a part of your name.

So for fun, yes can say your name uses such characters if you want, just like people with typical English names can spell their name with Japanese characters, too. It won't actually become your name, but it would be fine in your social circle.

However, if you are planning on living in Japan, you cannot legally spell your name in kanji on official documents, even if they were the correct kanji. It is also worth noting that middle names aren't a thing in Japan and can actually cause you a few headaches.

The name on your foreign residency card will also be written in English. Because of that, your bank and other documents will use the English name (or the katakana version). Since most other documents will use the English name, your job will ask you to use the same name on their contracts and documents.

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  • I disagree it's "just like people with typical English names can spell their name with Japanese characters". The fact that he has not the legal chance to spell his name in Kanji doesn't equate his situation to that of English name bearers, because his name does have a Japanese background whereas English names do not. I mean, even if he can't spell it in Kanji in official documents, 朝野 (or whatever actual spelling corresponds to him) is going to be instantly understood by other Japanese people compared to let's say 除瑠弟以 (Jordi), which would look like gibberish to a Japanese. It's not the same.
    – jarmanso7
    Jul 27, 2023 at 9:47

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