In English, when we give an example and it has to contain a person, there are some default names that we resort to, such as John Doe, John Appleseed, or Alice & Bob. I even found this line on wikipedia about John Doe:

John Doe (male) and Jane Doe (female) are multiple-use placeholder names that are used when the true name of a person is unknown or is being intentionally concealed.

In Chinese, there are similar names 張三 and 李四 that we use for the same purpose. I'd like to know if there are any such placeholder names in Japanese?

  • I'm not clear about how John Doe or 張三李四 are used exactly (and even they are used in the same way)?
    – sundowner
    Nov 23, 2022 at 23:47
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    Yes they are. As placeholder names. If I need to give you an example now (let's say, on the traffic law), I'd pick a placeholder name which can be John Doe. "The speed limit posted apply to everyone driving in the area at all times. If John Doe was driving at 50km/h at a 30km/h zone, he'd receive a fine of $120 dollars..."
    – dvx2718
    Nov 23, 2022 at 23:53
  • And as a native Chinese I can assure you that 張三李四 are used in the same way.
    – dvx2718
    Nov 23, 2022 at 23:53
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    @sundowner Exactly. The same sentence is Chinese is “車輛限速在所有時段適用於在此地行車的所有人。如果張三在30公里時的地區超速至50公里時,那麼他將獲得一張120元的罰單。”
    – dvx2718
    Nov 24, 2022 at 2:17
  • 1
    – naruto
    Nov 24, 2022 at 7:32

1 Answer 1


As you may know, Japanese has some common family names just like Chinese has 張 or 李. So default names like the following are what you see, for example, in form templates.

  • 鈴木一郎
  • 山田太郎
  • 山田花子

(Actually 山田 is not the common family name, but somehow in this kind of contexts, the one seen most often.)

These names cannot be used pronoun-like as suggested in the comment, and another alternative is 名無しの権兵衛, whose wikipedia article explicitly mentions John Doe and 張三李四. As far as I can think of, however, even 名無しの権兵衛 can not be used pronoun-like completely as John Doe.

Using 名無しの権兵衛 like someone may be possible in some cases, but もし名無しの権兵衛が法定速度30kmの場所で50km出していたら... sounds weird. Since Japanese can omit subjects in most cases, it would be more natural not to mention the subject (or to use simply 誰か to mean someone).


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