SO my name is Janosch (a German name).
I'm not really sure how to write it. Is "ヤノシ" right?

  • 3
    I would assume it would be ヤノッシュ, ヤノシュ, or ヤーノシュ.
    – Angelos
    Nov 18 '18 at 21:43
  • 4
    And if you are tall, blond, and elvish-looking, I'd write it like this: 矢之主. Or, if you just like booze, 谷之酒. Man, kanji are great. I wonder why so many people hate them.
    – Tommy
    Nov 19 '18 at 5:02
  • 1
    Difficult to answer this since most of us here probably don't know exactly how it is pronounced (since it's in German) and that person also needs to know Japanese well enough to be able to map it to Japanese phonology without being biased by his German knowledge... best would be to let a Japanese native, that doesn't know German, hear a recording of it. Can you perhaps find a link to a recording? My own name is quite difficult for Japanese, and how I transcribe it was completely turned upside down when I realized Japanese people understand it differently than I at the time thought...
    – a20
    Nov 19 '18 at 18:54
  • youtube.com/watch?v=QfBrp3xuvzs
    – Janosch
    Nov 19 '18 at 19:35

Completely up to you exactly how you write it. It’s your name and your choice. It is good to bear in mind exactly how Japanese people will read it. It will always be a rough approximation of your actual name (limited by the sounds in Japanese) but you can try to make it close to how it sounds in your language.

It’s best to introduce yourself formally (with business cards or email) to Japanese and give your spelling, especially if you have a non-English name. This custom of showing your name written is common in Japanese culture anyway so it won’t be intrusive. Since their names written in Kanji have many possible readings and Japanese words have many homophones, they often show the meaning of their name or their preferred reading of the kanji (they also write katakana on documents to make this clear).

It’s not unheard of for Japanese administrators to take your name in Roman letters and transliterate it for you. They’re more accustomed to reading English so they often get French and German names wrong, even in official documents such as HR or immigration visa. Unless you make it clear, “Janosch” could be written as ジャノスチ instead of ヤーノシュ. As such some foreign residents are stuck with an incorrect Japanese spelling of their name because the documents need to match and it’s a very strict system so it’s difficult to change their “official name”. If you can avoid this, it’s best to make sure they know how you wish for it to be written (i.e., how you want it read aloud) before any documents are filled in if you are visiting or living in Japan.


Janosch, given the pronunciation is [[ˈjaːnɔʃ]], would normally become ヤーノシュ{HLLLL} (shown with accent).

There are four points:

  • Long vowels long, short vowels short. It matters a lot in Japanese.
  • Closing consonant [[ʃ]] in many European languages renders into シュ (shu). Japanese シ is highly palatalized as much as slavic soft s. You don't want it for German unless in sequence schi.
  • Put the accent peak on the beginning of the syllable with primary stress (for stress-accent language).
  • Use katakana.

Of course, you can make your own tweak at your will/risk.

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