My name is "Leonardo Makoto" (given names) "Mito" (surname) because, in my country, it is common for Nisei and Sansei to have a foreign first name and a Japanese second name (so my family can call me Makoto and everyone else can call me Leonardo). Now, I am going to spend a year in Japan as an exchange student and I am worried about how to present myself and write my name since I do not speak Japanese.

I intend to present myself as "Mito Makoto" to make it easier for them to pronounce my name. Is this a good idea or should I stick with "Mito Leonardo"?

I know the Kanji for my family name is {{ja:三登}} and "Makoto" was not intended to mean anything.

How are second-names written in Japan? In particular, how should I write my name?

Should it be in Katakana {{ja:レオナルド・マコト・ミト}}, with only the surname in Kanji hiding my foreign name {{ja:三登 まこと}}, choosing a random Kanji for "Makoto" {{ja:三登 誠}}, or a mixture of everything {{ja:三登 レオナルド 誠}}?

Thanks in advance!


I was asked by Kyoto University to provide the Kanji for my family name, if available. Then, I asked my aunt (who lives in Japan) for it on Facebook and she replied {{ja:三登}}. This same person said it was pronounced {{ja:ミト}}. However, my aunt might not be very proficient in the Japanese language.

Based on the answers and comments, I understood Kanji is somewhat confusing and I should avoid it while I am not familiar with Japanese. I shall write my name in full katakana, then.

  • @Chocolate Are you 100% sure when you edited the OP's surname should be read as Mito not Mitou? The truth is only known by the OP. I repeat.
    – user7644
    Mar 1, 2020 at 3:46
  • Well, if the OP doesn't know how your Japanese historical surname should be called properly, this question is unsolvable.
    – user7644
    Mar 1, 2020 at 3:53

3 Answers 3


I intend to present myself as "Mito Makoto" to make it easier for them to pronounce my name. Is this a good idea or should I stick with "Mito Leonardo"?

First of all, I'm doubting if you should stick to the name as "Mito Makoto" since if Japanese native speakers heard "Leonard Makoto" aka レオナルド・マコト, then most of the Japanese people I believe would instantly notice you have a family historical Japanese relationship.

Should it be in Katakana レオナルド・マコト・ミトウ, with only the surname in Kanji hiding my foreign name ミ登 まこと, choosing a random Kanji for "Makoto" ミ登 誠, or a mixture of everything ミ登 レオナルド 誠?

According to this page, , the surname you inherited was in Japanese probably in ranking in case if it is read as Mitou,

1 見当

2 見藤

3 見富

4 見籐

5 御藤

6 御任

7 三刀

8 三東

9 三籐

10 実藤

If your inherited surname is read as Mito, according to the same page,

1 見戸

2 光戸

3 三計

4 三津

5 三登

6 三都

7 三刀

8 水戸

9 水渡

So, actually your surname, originally speaking, either called Mitou or Mito, is actually rare, ( I have not met anyone in my 40 years more life who has the surname which can be read either ( May be I am the only one. )

So after all, the best option I recommend is, you simply write your whole name "レオナルド・ミトウ" or "レオナルド・ミト" in especially Katakana, since most people notice your parents or grandparent is Japanese origin.

  • 1
    there are almost NO surname which has 登... ← 「みとう」さんじゃなくて「みと」さんでしょ? name.sijisuru.com/Fname/… ←「みと」さんだと「三登」さんが結構上位にランクインしてます。 「みと」は「三登」に変換するけど、「みとう」は「三登」に変換しないし。
    – chocolate
    Mar 1, 2020 at 3:23
  • @Chocolate Who knows the truth....
    – user7644
    Mar 1, 2020 at 3:24
  • @Chocolate Would you read ミ登 as Mito not Mitou if you read it for the first time ( when Katakana ミ is attached before the Kanji )? The truth is known only by the OP. Even the Kanji 三登 does not come up when I change to Kanji in my PC. It's rare.
    – user7644
    Mar 1, 2020 at 3:42
  • 1
    when Katakana ミ is attached before the Kanji -- あ、それは質問者が三とミの違いを知らなくて、書き間違えただけだそうですよ。
    – chocolate
    Mar 1, 2020 at 3:44
  • @Chocolate That's your personal guess only, as I represented in my post, even the word 三登 ranks in 5th, to me personally 三津 is more natural since my PC changes to 三津 than 三登 as the 4th recommendation.
    – user7644
    Mar 1, 2020 at 3:50

I don't have any advice about what kind of name Japanese people will find the most pleasing, but there are various regulations about what you put on various documents such as your "My Number" card, your Zairyu card, your registered inkan, or your driving licence, and the worst part is that they all differ from each other. To the best of my recollection from a discussion with someone trying to use a kanji name they had invented themselves, using a kanji name can actually be difficult for some purposes unless you come from a kanji-using country and you have an ID with the kanji on it from your home country.

If you want to save your sanity probably the best bet is to use katakana version of the name.

The place you can find experts on this kind of topic is the Japan life group on Reddit.


I think the most natural way you can present it is 三登 レオナルド・マコト you put the dot to separate your given names and then first is the surname.


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