How would you learn Japanese proper nouns? Learning kanji is not enough because you don't know exactly what the pronunciation is in each case, and there are practically an impossible number of person names and place names.

Where do you even start?

  • Without knowing the readings, how would you know how to pronounce place names? And how would you read a newspaper if you can't read any names apart from the most basic ones like Tanaka and Midori? – user11527 Nov 9 '15 at 23:44
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – snailcar Nov 10 '15 at 0:27

Names can be super hit-or-miss. That said, there are some generally common readings. I've never heard of any textbooks for studying names, but there are some dictionaries for name readings. Amazon has a few here. I own the one by P.G. O'Neill, which I've found useful on occasion. There's also Jim Breen's WWWJDIC, which is accessible online in a few places. I often use this link. To look up a name reading, enter the name's kanji, and then select ENAMDICT from the Dictionary dropdown menu.

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I am also a foreigner and learner of Japanese. I also encountered the difficulty in reading the names of Japanese. I tried to understand how the Japanese give names for their children. And there are some words frequently employed and we can group them together for easy remembering. (I like to use a hyphen to separate spelling of Kanji for helping quick pronunciation though really it is not necessary in usage)

(1) da in the second word:
山田 = Yama-da
野田 = No-da
上田 = Ue-da

(2) da (ta) in the leading word:
田蔵 = Ta-kura (not Da)
田中 = Ta-naka

and so forth. One special feature is the same word might have different voice in different position. This might be circumvent by more reading and remembering. However, systematic learning is helpful to me.

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