Is it possible and acceptable to transcript foreign names into hiragana instead of katakana for aesthetic or other personal purposes?

How would Japanese people judge this choice? Would they perceive it as a mistake?

Thank you

1 Answer 1


Don't do that. You have to use katakana for foreign names in almost all cases (excluding Chinese names where kanji can be used).

The only exception, maybe, is when you want to be a comedian/etc and want to play a childish, cute or simple-minded character under that hiragana name.

The general impression of hiragana ばらく・おばま (instead of バラク・オバマ) is described here. If I see ばらく・おばま, I would think it's a mistake, or it's a kind of ゆるキャラ inspired by the US president with the same name.

Addressing foreigners using hiragana can be insulting in many contexts, too.

  • Already used it for personal use only because of its cursive and more "feminine" look (compared to katakana) and taking into consideration its origin (originally used by women). It isn't scientific at all, I know. I was just wondering what the Japanese person who read my name written in hiragana thought of me.
    – Odalie
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 15:58
  • 2
    I'm a native Japanese speaker but I don't personally know about you. It depends on the situation, what kind of person you are, and how fluently you speak Japanese. For now, I think "oh she's not good at Japanese yet" is the most likely reaction from me.
    – naruto
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 16:19
  • And you're right because I know very little about Japanese language. I was aware that katakana is the standard way to transcript a foreign name and intentionally wanted to switch to hiragana for the reasons above. With such an assumption, even if I say that my choice was intentional, do you still perceive it as a mistake? I'm trying to figure out if the use of hiragana may be compared to an orthographical mistake in English.
    – Odalie
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 17:04
  • 4
    If you are a confident person, and you can explain why you intentionally chose hiragana name (in Japanese), then people can accept that, at least as a nickname. But it does look very eccentric and you may have to explain about your name every time you meet someone for the first time. Once again, keep in mind that all-hiragana name may look "childish/primitive" than you might think.
    – naruto
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 18:44
  • Thank you, naruto. Your points are much appreciated. I will keep in mind the childish aspect of the matter.
    – Odalie
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 22:11

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