I'm learning how Japanese names work for a story I'm writing and creating names is one of the most fun things I've done in some time. However, it comes with a share of frustrations. One for me is that I don't understand why some kanji are pronounced in a way that is different from both kun-yomi and on-yomi readings.

For example, let's take the name 一馬 (Kazuma). I can't seem to find any kanji dictionary (with English definitions) that state that the character 一 can be pronounced as ka. Most times I've seen the character, it's been romanized as ichi and I don't understand where ka comes from.

Another example is the birth name of kabuki actor Ichikawa Raizo VIII, 亀崎 章雄 (Kamezaki Akio). Neither 章 nor 雄 seem to form the pronunciation Akio, yet that is how the name is read and spoken. Why is this?

Thank you in advance for answering my question! Have a nice day!

  • 2
    If you want a dictionary with Japanese name readings, Jisho has them. For instance, it does list かず and かづ for 一. They're near the bottom of the page. jisho.org/search/%E4%B8%80%20%23kanji
    – Leebo
    Apr 27, 2019 at 14:39
  • I wonder if ateji are commonly used for names.
    – Jack Bosma
    Sep 5, 2019 at 13:24

1 Answer 1


There is a third type of reading for Kanji called nanori as was pointed out in a comment on your answer dictionaries frequently have many of these special readings though not necessarily all of them.

Here is a resource on nanori and Japanese naming that may help: https://imabi.net/nanori.htm as well as some more examples on how complex it can be https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_name#Difficulty_of_reading_names

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