There was already this answer regarding the basic rules of rendaku. However, it seems that these rules do not apply at all to proper nouns, especially toponyms. Examples include 秋葉原{あきはばら} (no rendaku) vs 千葉{ちば} (rendaku), 川崎{かわさき}(no rendaku) vs 宮崎{みやざき} (rendaku), and 石川{いしかわ} (no rendaku) vs 神奈川{かながわ} (rendaku), etc. I find no patterns in those pairs. 秋葉原{あきはばら} is especially confusing, since it completely reverses the general rendaku rules, and I'd expect it to be pronounced as あきばはら instead of あきはばら.

Therefore, is it the case that 連濁 in proper nouns (basically toponyms and surnames) are pretty much random and doesn't really follow any pattern? Or are there special rendaku rules for proper nouns?

By the way, it would be also welcome if anyone could explain why 秋葉原 in particular has this eccentric voicing pattern.

  • 1
    Yes, 秋葉原 is confusing, considering its etymon 秋葉神社 reads あきばじんじゃ (I also heard that elder locals used to call it あきばはら). Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 15:14
  • Maybe あきばはら → あきはばら is a case of usual rendaku + metathesis, rather than an unusual form of rendaku.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 18:01
  • @brokenheadphones Yes, and the common abbreviation for 秋葉原, 秋葉, is regularly pronounced アキバ (e.g., in words like アキバ系).
    – xuq01
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 19:34
  • @Earthliŋ The similar sort of metathesis as in 鳥取 とっとり (鳥 とり + 取 とり -> とっとり)? But I don't seem to see an underlying "motivation" for metathesis here.
    – xuq01
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 19:37
  • I understand it was earlier pronounced both ways, bit then the railways station was opened with the sign あきはばら that became the pronunciation that dominated. Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 1:58

1 Answer 1


Rendaku in proper nouns are basically random and unpredictable. Native speakers read new proper nouns purely based on their previous experiences, and ordinary people are not explicitly aware of any rules. Native speakers make mistakes often when it comes to rendaku. I don't know why 千葉 is ちば but 石川 is いしかわ. A correct reading can vary depending on what/who it refers to. See: Is it correct to read 黒川 as くろかわ or is くろがわ correct? I personally know both あかはね-san and あかばね-san (赤羽), both たかた-san and たかだ-san (高田), and so on. Sometimes local people may call a place with rendaku although its official name is without rendaku, or vice versa.

The history of 秋葉原 is described on Wikipedia (emphasis mine):


当地区の呼称が「あきはばら」として定着するのは、鉄道駅の開設以降とするのが定説である。後に地名の読み自体も「あきはばら」となる。なお、1890年(明治23年)に開業した時点では「あきはのはらえき(Akihanohara Station)」であり、旅客は扱わない貨物専用駅であった。ちなみに、「あきはばら」の読みは秋葉原駅の駅名をつける際、秋葉原の読み方を知らない鉄道官僚が勘違いして付けたことで生まれたとする説もある。


So historically many readings existed (many other sources say あきばはら was dominant in the early days). It was after the station named あきはばら opened that most people started to use あきはばら. It is even rumored that this apparently illogical station name was originally a mistake made by someone who did not know this place. Anyway, the nickname of 秋葉原 is still アキバ, not アキハ.

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