My company (a Japanese startup) issued me a set of business cards. The information on the card is almost entirely in English. Except for the company address, the only other bit in Japanese is「ムルさん」in small font beneath my English name.

When I was asked for what to mention on the card, I'd only specified my preferred English name (I assumed they'd pick the Katakana version from my contract and related forms). However, I do generally ask people to call me ムル.

I have never seen 「ーさん」 in a business card before, and find it surprising. It feels like like saying "I'm ムルさん." Is that the case?

1 Answer 1


Adding -さん is definitely not conventional as a formal Japanese name card. But English-only name cards are not conventional in the first place, and hardly sticking to the traditional style may not be always good for a startup. Getting to know how to call each other is one of the difficult tasks in foreign communications. If I received a name card with ムルさん on it, I might be a little surprised, too, but I would take it as a practical and friendly comment, "please call me ムル-san (instead of Mr. Smith, Professor, etc)". Unlike 様, さん is not a super respectful suffix, so no one would think you are being arrogant.

  • Wow, never thought of that (simply thought the "muru-san" there is bizarre.) @muru could it be e.g. that are sometimes the cards are e.g. mailed, or in other ways end up to their recipients without being directly handed over by youself? And, to those people, although they know you (in spoken language as ムルさん), could there be a risk that when they get your name card (when it is not handed over directly by yourself), if it just had your romaji name, they might not recognize who it is from?) Anyway, maybe best not to use that card in very formal situations when a person for the first time)
    – Tuomo
    Jul 25, 2019 at 14:23
  • 2
    Certainly weird, but actually a really nice trick! There is no common convention for greeting for foreigners, Often you would be referred to as any combination of (Mr/Mrs) (First/Last Name) (San/Sama). Having it right there on your card should limit that a lot
    – Mars
    Jul 26, 2019 at 0:35

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