All other titles, used when addressing someone, have a kanji character. Was/Is there a kanji term for -san?


2 Answers 2


The pronunciation さん is derived from [様]{さま}. I guess it should never be written using the kanji.

  • Is that really the reason why 様 is not used for さん? There's quite a few words derived from the same source that are all commonly represented by 私.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 3:58
  • 1
    I cannot think of another reason besides disambiguation. Maybe it does not matter too much if 私【わたくし】 is "misread" as わたし (and to disambiguate I also often see わたくし in kana).
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 6:25

Totally not the question you wanted, but a piece of trivia nonetheless: while there is no kanji for さん, there is a hànzì, and it's 桑: the Chinese Internet users needed to render the non-kanjified Japanese honorifics phonetically, so you'll find the versions for many others as well. (醬 is ちゃん).

  • It actually has a precedence, as originally さん came to Taiwan during the Japanese power and got actively borrowed to Taiwanese Min Nan (Hokkien): and it was there that 桑 was taken as a phonetic. Example, 歐巴桑 おばあさん. Strictly saying, 桑 is used as a phonetic for any occurrence of [saŋ].

It wouldn't work in Japanese, as the on-reading is now そう.


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