I know there are different ways to read kanji and unless you know the word you cannot be 100% sure if you need to use kun-kun, on-on, on-kun or kun-on reading (or some specific reading, like with 今日【きょう】). But I wonder if there are any rules regarding the reading of first and last names, or do you need to memorize them too.

For example, in the anime Prince of Tennis, one character mispronounced the last name 越前【えちぜん】 as こしまえ. Is this a common mistake?


1 Answer 1


No, you cannot know. The Japanese naming convention is that you could use the Kanji's you like, then attribute ANY readings to it. You can have a name spelt as 山田 then have it read as BANANA and that's completely valid.

Even among native Japanese, no one can be exactly sure of the exact reading of another person's name, so it's always better to politely ask. However, one could deduce a possible reading given the knowledge of names they already have. That's why the guy thought 越前 was to be read as こしまえ, as that was the most likely.

In an anime(I forgot which one) there was a guy names 星空, but had it read as NASA. Any Japanese people would read HOSHIZORA upon seeing this name, until instructed to read it as NASA.

(Yes, he was referring to the NASA from National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the US)

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