Anyone who has spent time translating between Japanese and English will know how difficult it is to translate Japanese names into English.

Not all Japanese names are hard to translate. If you're lucky, all you have to do is copy and paste the name into Google and a Wikipedia article will appear.

For example,

  • 畠中 洋 (はたなか ひろし). This actor's name is Hiroshi Hatanaka.
  • 大竹 しのぶ (おおたけ しのぶ). This actress's name is Shinobu Ōtake.

The above names are quite easy to find, because they have Wikipedia pages. Now let's try some tougher ones.

  • 猪尾 仁. 猪尾 can be pronounced as いお or いのお. 仁 can be pronounced as あつし, さとし, しとし, しのぶ, じん, じんこう, じんじ, ただし, にん, ひさし, ひとし, ひとみ, ひろし, まこと, まさ, まさし, ますし, めぐみ or やすし.
  • 東 嘉和. 東 can be pronounced as あがり, あきら, あず, あずま, あづま, こちざき, たかとう, とう, とうあ, とうはま, とうふく, とん, はじめ, ひがし, ひがしつる or やまと. 嘉和 can be pronounced as よしかず.

As you can see, these two people's names are very hard to figure out. They do get a mention on Wikipedia for being given the Video Award by the Hōsō Bunka Foundation (放送文化基金), but that's about it.

So are there any websites that not only list Japanese names in kanji, but also list their pronunciation in hiragana or romaji?

  • Do you mean actual names of real living (and/or dead) people? Or any possible readings for any names known to be in use? Obviously, you're not going to find anything listing 127 million names for every citizen of Japan... Maybe if something like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram had a required transliteration field for name kanji readings, that might be useful for datamining; but they don't... so I don't see this going anywhere. – Will Apr 13 at 0:48
  • If they have any publication or have been introduced in newspapers, interviews..., their reading is usually noted somewhere. If not, I think you can only ask themselves. – broken laptop Apr 13 at 3:12
  • This sounds like a resource question to me... – istrasci Apr 13 at 5:45

Otherwise, all you can do is google, look for their Facebook/LinkedIn/Amazon page, visit the company website, or directly inquire. For example the PDF available here says NHK's 猪尾仁 is いのおひとし, and this page says 東嘉和 is ひがしよしかず. No one can tell if a particular 東-san is あずま or ひがし just by looking at the kanji.

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