Cal Poly Pomona

Japanese Names

Helpful Hints

The Japanese syllable is based on five basic vowel sounds; a, i, u, e, and o. The vowels are pronounced as follows:

a : as in father

e : as in set

i : as in he

u : as in put

o : as in polo

The vowel sounds are consistent except for the notes below. The rest of the sounds in the language are basically made by adding a consonant in front of vowel. 'N' is the only consonant sound that stands alone without a vowel following it. Japanese has an open-syllable sound system, which means that most syllables end in a vowel. So first, simply break up Japanese names into syllables and pronounce them. For example:

Suzuki -- su-zu-ki

Takahashi -- ta-ka-ha-shi

Abe -- a-be

Japanese is a pitched accent language, which means that after a stressed syllable, the pitch falls. Notes:

  • 'r' and 'l'
    There is no real 'r' and 'l' in the Japanese sound system. The sound is between 'l' and 'r.'
    e.g., Reiko
  • 'g' and 'j'
    'g' sound is always pronounced in the hard form as game, ground, or give, never in the soft form of giant, or George.
    e.g., Shigeru
  • 'a' + 'i'
    'a' and 'i' together sound like the 'i' in 'ice.'
    e.g., Aikawa
  • 'e' + 'i'
    'e' and 'i' together sound like a long 'eh' sound.
    e.g., Keiko
  • 'o' + 'u'
    'o' and 'u' together sound like a long 'o' sound. (This can be written as ou, oh, oo, or o with a bar over top it.)
    e.g., Kyouko
  • 'u' + 'u'
    'u' accompanies just after 'u' sound 'oo.' (However, one of the 'u' s is omitted often when writing.)
    e.g., Shuuchi

You can learn more about Japanese names at Wikipedia.

Last Names

Pronunciation

Male First Names

Pronunciation

Female First Names

Pronunciation

Abe [a-be] Akio  [a-ki-o] Akiko [a-ki-o] 
Aoki [a-o-ki] Akira  [a-ki-ra] Etsuko  [eh-tsu-ko]
Endo [en-doh] Hideo  [hi-de-o] Hiroko  [he-ro-ko]
Fujita [fu-ji-ta] Hiroshi  [hi-ro-sih] Hiromi  [he-ro-me]
Goto [go-toh] Ichiro  [e-chi-roh] Junko  [june-ko]
Hara [ha-ra] Junichi  [june-e-chi] Kaoru  [ka-o-ru]
Hasegawa [ha-se-ga-wa] Kazuo  [ka-zu-o] Kazuko  [ka-zu-ko]
Hashimoto [ha-shi-mo-toh] Kenji  [ken-ji] Keiko  [keh-ko]
Hayashi [ha-ya-shi] Kiyoshi  [ki-yo-shi] Kuniko  [koo-ni-ko]
Ikeda [e-ke-da] Koichi  [ko-e-chi] Kyoko  [kyoh-ko]
Inoue [e-no-u-e] Koji  [ko-ji] Mariko  [ma-ri-ko]
Ishii [e-shi-i] Makoto  [ma-ko-toh] Masako  [ma-sa-ko]
Ishikawa [e-shi-ka-wa] Osamu  [o-sa-mu] Michiko  [me-chi-ko]
Ito [e-toh] Shigeru  [shi-ge-ru] Miho  [me-ho]
Kaneko [ka-ne-ko] Shinichi  [shin-e-chi]  Miki  [me-ki]
Kato [ka-toh] Shiro  [shi-ro]  Miyuki  [me-you-ki]
Kimura [ki-mu-ra] Susumu  [su-su-mu] Naoko  [na-o-ko]
Kobayashi [ko-ba-ya-shi] Tadashi  [ta-da-shi] Noriko  [no-lee-ko]
Kojima [ko-ji-ma] Takao  [ta-ka-o] Reiko  [reh-ko]
Kondo [kon-doh] Takashi  [ta-ka-shi] Sachiko  [sa-chi-ko]
 Maeda [ma-e-da] Takeo  [ta-ke-o] Takako [ta-ka-ko] 
Matsumoto [ma-tsu-mo-toh] Takeshi  [ta-ke-shi] Tomoko  [to-mo-ko]
Miura [mi-wu-ra] Toru  [toh-ru] Yoko  [yoh-ko]
Mori [mo-ri] Tsutomu  [tsu-to-mu] Yoshiko  [yo-shi-ko]
Murakami [mu-ra-ka-mi] Yoshio  [yo-shi-o] Yuki  [you-ki]
Nakajima [na-ka-ji-ma] Yuji  [you-ji] Yumi  [you-me]
Nakamura [na-ka-mu-ra] Yutaka  [you-ta-ka]  Yumiko  [you-me-ko]
Nakayama [na-ka-ya-ma]
Nomura [no-mu-ra]
Ogawa [o-ga-wa]
Okada [o-ka-da]
Ono [o-no]
Ota [oh-ta]
Saito [sa-i-toh]
Sasaki  [sa-sa-ki]
Sato  [sa-toh]
Shimizu  [shi-me-zoo]
 Suzuki [su-zu-ki]
Takahashi [ta-ka-ha-shi]
Tanaka [ta-na-ka]
 Uchida [wu-chi-da]
Wada [wa-da]
Watanabe [wa-ta-na-beh]
Yamada [ya-ma-da]
Yamaguchi [ya-ma-gu-chi]
 Yamamoto [ya-ma-mo-toh]
Yamashita [ya-ma-shi-ta]
Yamazaki [ya-ma-za-ki]
Yokoyama [yo-ko-ya-ma]
Yoshida [yo-shi-da]

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updated June 22, 2005