It is known that Japanese names often have multiple readings depending on what reading (on'yomi, kun'yomi, nanori ...) is applied to each kanji.

But my question is about foreign names written in kanji phonetically.

When someone gains Japanese citizenship, they usually change their name from katakana to kanji (at least the given name or the surname).


  • Alessandro Santos 三都主 アレサンドロ (Santosu Aresandoro)

  • Sergio Escudero エスクデロ 競飛王 (Esukudero Seruhio)

  • Brendan Neilson ニールソン武蓮伝 (ニールソン ぶれんでん)

  • Wagner Lopes 呂比須 ワグナー (Ropesu Wagunā)

  • Martti Turunen 弦念 丸呈 (Tsurunen Marutei)

Seeing this, my question is if it is possible to mix the on'yomi and kun'yomi readings. I mean, can you choose the most suitable reading of a kanji (on'yomi or kun'yomi) to build each part of your name in kanji?

By example, Spanish footballer Sergio Escudero has this name: 競飛王 (Seruhio).

The first kanji has Kun'yomi reading SERU But the second and the third kanji have the On'yomi readings HI and O respectively.

It makes me think that it is possible to choose the most convenient reading to write our foreign names in Kanji.

However, in the past, I read things like this..

https://thejapanesepage.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15189#p169635 (see the last post) ...stating that you can't mix the readings to write your foreign name in Kanji.

What do you know about this? Do you think it is possible to mix the readings?

  • 1
    Why did you delete your closed question and repost your question with identical content?
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 13:31
  • Oh! I thought that if I clarified my question (with what I put at the beginning) I could repost it again. Sorry if I misunderstood it. My question focuses on foreign names (not Japanese natives) written in kanji phonetically.
    – Jukin
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 13:41
  • You can always edit your question (using the "edit" button below your question) — a closed question will then automatically be reconsidered for reopening. (For this question, just leave it as it is now.)
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 13:42
  • My total fault. I will keep it in mind for the future. Sorry for not knowing properly the site's operation.
    – Jukin
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 13:48
  • 吐露非狩古鬱... Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 13:27

2 Answers 2


You can, but avoiding it might have an advantage.

I couldn't find documents of the Japanese government about names of foreign names, but in this Q&A (See the top answer), there are no such rules.

宇柳貝 is an ateji of Uruguay (though I have never seen it used). 宇(u) and 柳(ryu) are On'yomi while 貝(gai) is Kun'yomi. Also, 型録 is an ateji of catalog (I have seen this used) and 型(kata) is Kun'yomi while 録(roku) is On'yomi. I don't think the mixture of On'yomi and Kun'yomi in foreign words is wrong.

In Japanese names, it is natural to mix On'yomi and Kun'yomi. 涼子 (ryou-ko) is a common given name and 涼(ryou) is On'yomi while 子(ko) is Kun'yomi. So, such mixture in names isn't wrong either.

So, you can mix the readings to write your foreign name.

However, such mixture might cause confusion when you read the name. As you know, many kanjis have multiple readings, so the reader has to guess which reading is appropriate for the name. Maybe using only On'yomi or only Kun'yomi reduces such confusion.

  • 2
    Thank you for your answer. The more I research, the more I see that there is no readings restrictions on writing foreign names in kanji. The key is to avoid uncommon readings regardless of the chosen reading (on'yomi or kun'yomi) of each kanji.
    – Jukin
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 15:45

Aside from the fact that mixing on'yomi and kun'yomi is commonly done in Japanese names anyway (see legogo's answer), foreigners often have little choice as it is when choosing Kanji for their names, based on the construction of foreign names as a whole; they tend to be longer than Japanese names (when you add in all the auxiliary vowels that Japanese required that other languages do not, think "Alexander", or "Arekkusandaa") and tend to use syllable combinations that are uncommon in Japanese. For example, personally speaking, my IRL last name begins with "waru" (in Japanese). It's prohibitively difficult to find a Kanji that accomodates that sound to begin with, so bickering over on'yomi or kun'yomi doesn't really help matters; you take what you can get.

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