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I'm wondering if it's possible or acceptable for foreigners to use 漢字 to write their names that would usually be written in カタカナ. I know that some names are already Japanese names such as Ben【勉】, Mary【茉莉】, etc., but is it possible to use common 音読み to extend this kind of thing further?

For example, maybe Ben【勉】could be extended to Benjamin【勉邪民】, or Thomas could be written as【斗枡】. Would this type of thing be acceptable or understood, or is it simply more practical to use the カタカナ versions?

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For Western names, practically speaking, Katatana is best. If you're a citizen of a country where Kanji is used on official documents like your passport, say... China or Korea, then it is common to use either Kanji or Katakana in Japan.

For citizens of Western countries, your Kanji name will never be your "official" name (unless you become a citizen of Japan, Korea, China, etc.) Almost all Japanese institutions commonly handle alphabetic names at this point, so even your Katakana name may not be used on official Japanese documents.

However, some people use a Kanji-fied version of a Western name for their hanko/inkan, and this is usually acceptable even in government and banking documents.

So if your name is "Benjamin Button" you could register a hanko/inkan with your city office or bank with 「勉邪民 牡丹」 on it. As long as there is some clear link between the Kanji and your name, you most likely wouldn't have any trouble.

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    Just to add some context based on personal experience, I wonder if there really must be a clear link between the Kanji and the person's name. As for me I have used for a long time 3 kanji whose reading has nothing to do with my name. Moreover, they are not even used in Japan and make quite an unreadable name (they make sense in Chinese though, and I used those for a series of off topic reasons). Anyway, I have never registered that seal (so I can't say if in that case someone would complain) but my bank account and some other documents are still registered with that. – Tommy Jul 20 '16 at 1:37
  • From what I've seen quite a few native Japanese people will invent new readings for characters fairly often, I would imagine that foreigners can sometimes get away with the same thing. I'm curious to know what you used, I've been struggling with my last name but might be settling with 久瑠知衣 since they correspond with the normal 万葉仮名. – bcloutier Jul 20 '16 at 1:43
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    I've heard that it may not matter at the city office, but I have also heard that there has to be a rational if you want to use a separate hanko/inkan for banking. I guess it might depend on the institution. – sazarando Jul 20 '16 at 1:43
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    @bcloutier I've often thought that Manyogana is a classy choice. – sazarando Jul 20 '16 at 1:45
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    Oh, but sometimes it can be fun to throw in a kunyomi, like 「舞蹴流」 (Michael - 舞い蹴る、流れ) or 狂智恵 (Cloutier - 狂っている智恵) – sazarando Jul 20 '16 at 1:50

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