João is a Portuguese name which has a peculiar pronunciation that is very difficult for foreign people. It is the Portuguese equivalent to the English John, but the pronunciations are very different. If you see that Wikipedia page, it might help get a grasp of the correct pronunciation. However, I have no idea how this name would be represented in kana...

Does anyone know what might be the correct kana for this name?

  • I heard the sound on Google Translate: translate.google.co.jp/#pt|ja|Jo%C3%A3o (Is this the correct pronunciation?) So it sounded to me like "ジョウン" or "ジョン"...
    – user1016
    Jul 11, 2012 at 16:34
  • Ah... how about this site, then? forvo.com/word/jo%C3%A3o The first one (read by a woman from Portugal) sounds like ジョアン or ジュアン.
    – user1016
    Jul 11, 2012 at 22:57
  • I'd probably try looking at how Wikipedia handles transliterating this name.
    – Golden Cuy
    Jul 13, 2012 at 5:02
  • @Chocolate: yes, that's the sound
    – JNat
    Jul 13, 2012 at 13:24
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    Although this Question is 3 years old, it is to note that as you said in the comments on the accepted answer "...doesn't sound nowhere [sic] near how it is pronounced in Portuguese". This problem has surfaced in a lot of Japanese School Textbooks, so much so that quite a few Portuguese names Katakana readings were changed this year (2015) in order to be closer to their Portuguese pronunciations. As the accepted answer says, "It is your name, so you are entitled to choose the correct kana." Nov 16, 2015 at 0:53

4 Answers 4


Does anyone know what might be the correct kana for this name?

It is your name, so you are entitled to choose the correct kana.

However, there is historical precedent for ジョアン. There is a famous Portuguese missionary João Rodrigues who came to Japan in the late 16th century. He left several important books including "Arte da Lingoa de Iapam" (日本大文典) and "Arte breue da lingoa Iapoa" (日本小文典). In Japanese he is known as ジョアン・ロドリゲス. Hence, ジョアン is quite likely.

  • Thank you. However, I think I should say that ジョアン doesn't sound nowhere near how it is pronounced in Portuguese. I find this interesting because I see that most names have a pronunciation similar (as similar as possible) to the native. I also find interesting the fact that you said one can choose their own kana. Is that really how it works? I mean, I know it is one's name and one would know how to pronounce it, but can/should one introduce oneself to a Japanese person and say 'this is how you write my name in YOUR language'?
    – JNat
    Jul 11, 2012 at 15:34
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    Is something like ジュアウ or ジュナウ closer? Whatever your preference, stick with it. If you move to Japan, you will be given the chance to choose the katakana for your name. It needs to sufficiently plausible. Japanese, like English, belongs to no one. If you are going to live your life in a Japanese environment, then make it YOUR language, too.
    – Dono
    Jul 11, 2012 at 15:40
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    @JNat That is most likely because Portuguese itself has undergone sound changes. I am informed that "Joāo" was once "Joam" – which could well have been perceived as ジョアン by the Japanese. However, I am not sure when this sound change happened.
    – Zhen Lin
    Jul 12, 2012 at 5:09

Like the Poster "Dono" said, you can choose your own characters when you come to live in Japan and register as a temporary citizen. But, you need to be consistent in everything you register. If you register for one thing with a certain kana style, like a bank account, and then change your mind later and register for a credit card account with a different kana, they will NOT be able to link both names. So, you should think carefully and once you choose a combination, you need to stick with it forever (or else, you will face some nasty bureaucracy and problems). Also, you need to consider the easiness of typing that kana combination hundreds of times.

And like the poster above mentioned, there is indeed a strong precedent for ジョアン. I am Portuguese too, but my name is not Joao. You will not be able to transcribe the current Portuguese pronunciation of Joao successfully, I can guarantee that. If you move to Japan and follow this precedent, at least some more Japanese people will be able to remember and write your name, as opposed to you finding a more obscure combination of sounds. Even if you find it cute to create a more complicated combination of kana, this might work against you during your everyday life in Japan. So, once again, consider these things, and if you decide to go against the precedent, be consistent and stick with it until the end.


I'd recommend you, just like some other contributors have said before, to stick to a simple and easy remembering combination, such as イオアウ or ジョアウ.

Those combinations resemble its real portuguese pronunciation and will give you less troubles when typing it, and registering everywhere.

Greetings from Colombia.


It's my name, too. I'm from Brazil and if people call me ジョアン, I'll never think they're referring to me (no one here pronounces "ョ", and the ending "アン" sounds rather feminine).

The closest I could find to the way we pronounce João here is ジュオン.

I know it sounds like a horror movie, which can be odd, but there's a musician who goes by this name, too: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2133227655867022401

Do you think it'd sound aggressive? Or laughable?

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