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I've never seen spaces before in Japanese.

The other day, however, I noticed that Shin Kubota's name in Japanese is often stylized with a space:

久保田 信

which really struck me.

It isn't necessarily always written this way, as I have seen, but it certainly is not an accident.

This all got me wondering: when are spaces used in Japanese? There must be a point, and a rule?

6

There "should be" a space between family name (姓{せい} / 苗字{みょうじ}) and the name (名前{なまえ}) actually.

This wiki page has no English version but just for your reference: 和字間隔{わじかんかく}

I have read this post (姓名{せいめい}の表記法{ひょうきほう}について) and found a nice answer.

In articles, writers don't use spaces in character / people names. But in many (maybe all other) situations, we put that space.

I'm sorry I am not sure the exact reason or the story of that spaces, etc. But the advantages are pretty clear. It will be much easy to know which is family name and which is the name. As you know Kanji doesn't like English. And also, it is type of respect. We do specially to writing others' names.

But the sum up, we don't HAVE TO put the spaces.

Also, about spaces in Japanese writting. Young students sometimes actually put a space after Joshi (助詞{じょし}) (particle), to make the sentence more easy to read.

  • 1
    Ugh, really? +1. I am sorry I haven't known yet living almost for 40 years....:). – Kentaro Tomono Dec 29 '15 at 4:55
  • @KentaroTomono Because we sometimes do the same. (I am Hong Konger) – Tsumannai Dec 29 '15 at 5:42
  • @Tsumannai Chinese also puts spaces in between surname and name? – user3306356 Dec 29 '15 at 9:33
  • @user3306356 Chinese doesn't. There are no spaces in Chinese, because it is quite difficult to draw word boundaries. Historically, the whitespace surrounds the characters, and the language is very monosyllabic. One character = one word. Now, we have 2-character words, but even these "words" may feel like expressions at times. A two-character Chinese name will be pronounced all at once, while a 3-character name may chop off the surname for rhythm. – Double U Apr 15 at 15:04
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The answer to your question is funny enough. The are no space in the written language, because they are not necessary. Hiragana e Kanji do a nice job when it comes to logically divide the meaning of the words, while Katakana takes care of non-Japanese words. It's true that some are written in Hiragana only, but they are so common to be unmistakable, e.g. こんにちは, ありがとう, etc., and easily discernible when next to particles or adverbs.

I think the reason to insert sometimes a space between first and last name is also practical. Some last names are hard to read for Japanese as well, as they could have rare readings. Having them visually split may help.

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