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Japanese Names - Learn About Japanese Names with Kanji

Someone asked on a recent post at Japanesepod101.com what なつこ先生’s name was in 漢字. I said that it was 夏子. I’m pretty sure it’s 夏子, in all of the early PDFs, she is listed as 夏子.

Almost all Japanese people have 漢字 names, and all family names are 漢字. The last time I went to Japan, I was quite fluent with my 漢字 from my Chinese study, but I still found common Japanese names very interesting. Whenever I’d go into any shop, I’d make a point of reading the various workers’ namecards. I found the names fascinating.

To someone used to dry, uninteresting Chinese names, Japanese names are a breath of fresh air. They sound like they were made up by hippie parents. Take 夏子 for example (the name, not the lady!) The first character is ’summer’, the second, ‘child’. I often get a pleasant surprise when I hear about Japanese peoples’ names. Some which are so common seem so poetic.

田中・たなか: ‘Field’ and ‘middle’. Whenever I meet someone with the surname 田中, I always picture one of their ancient ancestors working hard in the field, and someone asking his surname. This was at a time when surnames weren’t so common, so the first 田中 took a long thoughtful look at his surroundings and thought, ‘well I’m standing in the middle of a field, so…’

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