You can see some notes when the Japanese name their babies, so please check them out.
The reason why Japanese last name comes before first name.
There are a few arguments about last name in Japan.
- It is adopted along with Chinese name style. It has the same name order as Japanese.
- The Japanese traditionally see their family as an important community. So family name comes first.
- Because of Japanese grammar.
In Japan, if you identify someone in a local, you have to say "local name"+ の(no,a postpositional particle)+ "person name" in order.
There are lots of people who has a last name comes from local name in Japan.
If you accept its order, you call Japanese people "local name(last name)" + "first name" naturally.
That's why it is a kind of theory.
Kanji is originally from ancient China, and it came to Japan in around 4th century.
Kanji has three pronunciations at all. First, 「音読み(On-yomi)」comes from original Chinese pronunciation. Second,「訓読み(Kunn-yomi)」is from Japanese Pronunciation. Third,「人名訓(Jinmei-kun)、名のり(Nanori)」is a unique one. it has a kind of unique pronunciation and it is not used in a daily life.
So, single Kanji has multiple pronunciation in Japan.
Hiragana is simpler letter and easier to write than Kanji.
These letters are rounded and made by simplifying Kanji.
It is used in many situations, but mainly used when you can't write in Kanji.
Katakana is simple Japanese letter as Hiragana. It is easy to write.
Katakana is angular. It is said Katakana is made of the parts of Kanji.
Katakana is written in many cases, but usually written to express foreign language in Japanese.
Role and Image of Japanese letter
In Japanese sentence, you can use Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana together at all. And, each letter has a different impression and role.
Here is the example. Sakura is written in Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana.
These are all same thing, Sakura, but each word has a different impression by using situation or people's impression.
For me, Sakura by Kanji reminds of a tree of cherry blossom. By Hiragana, it reminds me of a name of person. And Katakana, it reminds me of a cherry blossom as species.
As you can see in Japanese newspaper, magazine and websites, these letters are mixed at all.
It is a little bit too casual, but you can make sentence by using only Hiragana and Katakana.
But, both letters have generally no meaning in a single word. So, it is hard to read Japanese sentence without any Kanji.
Including Kanji in your Japanese sentence, it's gonna be easier to read.
Japanese has a lot of homonyms, so if you don't use Kanji, it's hard to understand a correct meaning.
Here is an example. It is written in only Katakana and Hiragana, so it's hard to read.
Only Hiragana : ははははははとわらい、ははのはははははははとわらう。
Only Katakana : ハハハハハハトワライ、ハハノハハハハハハハトワラウ。
Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana : 母はハハハと笑い、母の母はハハハハと笑う。
The meaning in English : Mom laughs haha, Mom's mom laughs more.
Hiragana has a kind and friendly impression, but if you use too many, the impression feels like foolish, lacking of intelligence.
Katakana is basically used to express foreign language.
Also, you can use it to express voices of people and animals.
Each Japanese letter has a different rule and image, so its expression is slightly different by situations.
Using these letters properly, the impressions of copy writing, novels and lyrics can be quite a different.
Also, these image can affect baby name.
Trend of baby name
Naming style is fluid, so classic name is a kind of unique in Japan.
But there are trends in all generation, so you can identify someone's generation by name.
So, if you use Japanese name in a novel, anime drama, and lyrics, check out its generation and adjust it.
Homonyms in Japanese name
Pronunciation doesn't always fix name meaning in Japanese. Meaning depends on other elements.
In Japanese name, there are lots of homonyms, with various reasons.
Please check out these paragraphs below.
The reason using Kanji in name
Japanese names are usually consisted of Kanji. There are few Katakana or Hiragana name.
Because Japanese parents want baby name to have various meanings, as I expect.
To get a name to have meanings, you need to use Kanji.
Katakana and Hiragana don't have meaning in a single letter, so you cannot identify its meaning.
For example, 'Ai' is a popular name in Japan. These are 'Ai ' in Kanji.
愛 (Ai) means "love"
藍 (Ai) means "indigo"
亜衣 (Ai) 亜 means "Asia", 衣 means "dressing".
If you write it in Hiragana and Katakana, it gets「あい,アイ」. But it doesn't have nothing and you can't know it is "love","indigo" or "Asian dressing".
Phonetic equivalent (Ateji)
Japanese phonetic equivalent (Ateji) is a word made of pronunciation of Kanji without meaning.
Vice versa, making a unique pronunciation to an ordinary Kanji word along with its meaning is also Japanese phonetic equivalent.
Example : 宇宙(sora)
This is an example of tha latter, 「宇宙(uchu)」as 「そら(sora)」.
「宇宙」means space, but it pronounces 'uchu', not 'sora'. In Japanese, Sora means sky.
Sky and space have similar meaning, but they are different. So it is hard to read at the first time and need to explain.
Example : 光宙（Pikachu）
光(hikari/ko) means "ray, light", and 宙(chu) means"mid-air, air, space, sky, memorization, interval of time".
Ordinary, you cannot read 光 as 'pika'. But in Japanese, pika(ピカ) means dazzling shining as Onomatopoeia.
Even though, it is almost impossible to read in the first time.
Example : 黄熊（Pooh）
Usually, 黄(ki/ou) means "yellow" and 熊(kuma) means "bear".
This Kanji name means yellow bear, but pronounces 'pooh'.
Legally, you can get any pronunciation to your Kanji name in Japan. but it is easily bizarre name to be made fun of. So, you should get carefully.
Chopping off (Butta-giri)
Chopping off(ぶった切り, Butta-giri) means cut off an original pronunciation on the way, and get it to name.
心（しん,こころ,Shin,Kokoro) reads ここ(Koko).
Chopping off has a history, so Japanese usually use Chopped pronunciation. but if it is chopped off too much and unique, it can get unnatural.
You can get any pronunciation to Kanji name. Even if it has quite a different from ordinary meaning, you can do legally.
These (too much) unique names are often called Bizarre names (キラキラネーム,Kirakira-neimu). On the internet, it is also called DQNネーム(dokyun-neimu). It is a little bit offensive.
Both calling is ironic and offensive. So, they are same words.
Bizarre name depends on a personal subject. So, it is hard to classify.
If you name on your baby, please think about his/her future. You should take responsible for their future.
If the name is too sensitive and weird, the government office may deny its name.
Kanji pronunciation (Yomigana, Furigana)
If you apply in only Kanji, sometimes it's hard to identify its pronunciation.
Not to make such troubles, There are some blank spaces to write ふりがな,よみがな(Furigana, Yomigana, Kanji Pronunciation) in official paper.
If it is written in Hiragana like ふりがな, write down in Hiragana. If it is Katakana like フリガナ, write down in Katakana.
There are about 3,000 Kanji you can use for name in Japan.
Sometimes new Kanji may be added suddenly. If you want to know new information about it, you can check it at official Ministry of Justice website.
Usable letters in household registration
In addition to Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana, you can use prolong sound mark like 'ー',or repeat signs like 'ゞ'.
But you cannot use alphabet, number and usual marks like '+'.
If you can separate first name and last name vertical. It is happening タテワレ(縦割れ,Tate-ware,Cracking).
Kanji can be separated by some parts. But if the name has Kanji separated vertically at all, it looks unstable.
So, you should avoid this pattern as you can.
Like 「田中吉高」, making symmetry name which has only angular Kanji can get angular and too solid impression.
Including asymmetry Kanji, it can get much better.
Middle name in Japan
Legally, Japan doesn't admit having a middle name.
But if you have it and dual nationality, It can be admitted. But in this case its middle name is treated as a part of first name in Japan.
Once upon a time, Samurai had a name with middle name. But it was different from usual middle name.
Middle name application
Using middle name is not a problem in Japan. But it is not included in registration.
Usually, you can only write down first name and last name in a paper. But if you are born in foreign country and you have it, you can write down it in registration.
If you know more about middle name, please check out at a government office you are going to apply birth report.
Alphabet name in this website
In this website, We use Hepburn style(Romaji) when write names in English.
On the passport, it is also written by Hepburn style, and this is same as registered one.
You can check Hepburn style writing in Ministry of Foreign Affairs website..