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Kanjis in a name

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I've always wondered how free are the Japanese to choose the kanji you write their normal names with. I've seen several times (in shows, yeah...) that they introduce themselves by saying their name and then explaining the kanji you write it with.

Can they be as creative as they want and choose any kanji with the reading of their name or are there some kanji that would make native Japanese think 'what is that kanji doing in a name?'.

I hope this question makes any sense, lol.
 

Mike Cash

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Another interesting read. Includes information on the famous case where parents wanted to name their kid 悪魔 (Devil).
To the OP: you realize that parents pick the name and kanji for their kids, yes?
What to call baby? | The Japan Times
I remember when the Akuma case was in the news. Just a couple of weeks ago I was wondering what ever became of the kid and how he felt about it. He would be in his mid 20s now, I think.

Edit: there is a Wikipedia page about the Akuma kerfuffle.

https://ja.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/悪魔ちゃん命名騒動

Oh, wow.... things did not go well for quite a while afterwards....

悪魔くん事件のその後 父親は覚醒剤で刑務所ぐらし!離婚 子供は中3で養護施設 なんとも悲しい人生 | よっしーMJ for 楽天ブログ - 楽天ブログ
 
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To the OP: you realize that parents pick the name and kanji for their kids, yes?
That was part of my doubt as well. If you want to name a child Natsumi, for example, do parents use the average kanji writting of it (whichever that may be) or do they tend to get creative and choose their own kanji combination?

I've only seen statistics with the most average Japanese names written in romaji so their kanji spelling is still a mystery to me.
 

Mike Cash

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That was part of my doubt as well. If you want to name a child Natsumi, for example, do parents use the average kanji writting of it (whichever that may be) or do they tend to get creative and choose their own kanji combination?

I've only seen statistics with the most average Japanese names written in romaji so their kanji spelling is still a mystery to me.
So glad I linked to an explanation....

Did you read any of it?

They can choose from certain sets of approved kanji.

Many people choose based on visual balance between characters, the meanings, the sounds, what is popular at the moment, etc.

Some people consult fortune tellers or the like and choose based on the number of strokes in the characters (shades of Numerology at work here). I remember when my son was in kindergarten here I accompanied him on a trip to Disneyland by bus. During the ride the tour guide helped kill time by passing a microphone among the parents and having them explain how they chose their child's name and how it was written. I was appalled to hear probably about 2/3 of the parents had gone the fortune teller and numerology route. The rest were things like characters from a favorite television show, a popular actor/singer, or whatever happened to be trendy at the moment.
 
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So glad I linked to an explanation....

Did you read any of it?

They can choose from certain sets of approved kanji.

Many people choose based on visual balance between characters, the meanings, the sounds, what is popular at the moment, etc.

Some people consult fortune tellers or the like and choose based on the number of strokes in the characters (shades of Numerology at work here). I remember when my son was in kindergarten here I accompanied him on a trip to Disneyland by bus. During the ride the tour guide helped kill time by passing a microphone among the parents and having them explain how they chose their child's name and how it was written. I was appalled to hear probably about 2/3 of the parents had gone the fortune teller and numerology route. The rest were things like characters from a favorite television show, a popular actor/singer, or whatever happened to be trendy at the moment.
Yes, I read it and it answered perfectly my main question. I still wasn't sure if there was such a thing as traditional kanji spellings of the most common names and if they used them. This last reply made it clear, thanks a lot! :joyful:
 
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Another interesting read. Includes information on the famous case where parents wanted to name their kid 悪魔 (Devil).
To the OP: you realize that parents pick the name and kanji for their kids, yes?
What to call baby? | The Japan Times
"Another consideration for the Toriis, as for many other parents in Japan, was to use kanji that would not involve too many strokes, because if they chose ones that were too heavy-looking, or congested, it would be time-consuming to write in school exams, which would leave less time for the child to tackle the questions."

This paragraph was simultaneously quite funny and quite sad for me. Is this really a big consideration? Are schoolchildren not given time to write their name on the paper at the beginning of the exam?

I do find it quite pleasing that my first name in Japanese can be written in 5 strokes, at least the name I actually use. But I can't imagine thinking "well we'd better give her a simple name, it'll save her valuable seconds in exams".
 

Toritoribe

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I've always wondered how free are the Japanese to choose the kanji you write their normal names with. I've seen several times (in shows, yeah...) that they introduce themselves by saying their name and then explaining the kanji you write it with.

Can they be as creative as they want and choose any kanji with the reading of their name or are there some kanji that would make native Japanese think 'what is that kanji doing in a name?'.

I hope this question makes any sense, lol.
Here's my post in a thread.
You can give any readings to the kanji name legally, if you want. In fact, I once wrote this in this forum, there exists a male given name 拳, reading なっくる, which is most probably from an English word "knuckle". Although your local office might refuse to accept it depending the name, they tend to be tolerant with uncommon readings of names nowadays. Search DQNネーム or キラキラネーム on google. You can find so many examples. (I'm not going to recommend using those irregular readings, though.)
Help with choosing Ateji for my name. | Japan Forum

Is this really a big consideration?
Not "time-consuming to write in school exams" but more likely "difficult to write for children of the lower classes of primary school". They are usually allowed to write their names in hiragana in those cases.
 

mdchachi

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Here's my post in a thread.
You can give any readings to the kanji name legally, if you want.
I was just going to mention this. My wife gave our son a middle name written in a common kanji that nobody would ever guess the pronunciation. When she explains it to people it makes sense and they all understand the reasoning behind it.
 
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