Do Japanese People Have Middle Names? - Just About Japan (2023)

Whether you’ve ever been to Japan or you have only ever seen anime, you might have noticed a few things about the names.

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Do Japanese People Have Middle Names? - Just About Japan (1)

One question you might have is about middle names in Japan – do they exist? Have you ever come across someone in Japan who did have a middle name?

Have you ever seen or heard a middle name mentioned in Anime? The answer is most likely a resounding no. Middle names don’t technically exist in Japan!

For many other cultures around the world, middle names are an important part of our identity.

They often come from close loved ones or relatives. Maybe you had an uncle Brian, so you were given the middle name Brain.

For many, middle names help keep the family legacy alive. In Japan, middle names simply don’t exist.

Why is that? If you want to learn more about middle names in Japan, as well as how naming and addressing works in the country, stick around – there’s a lot to learn!

Do Japanese People Have Middle Names?

Japanese people do not have middle names. Of course, there might be an exception if you are a foreigner living in Japan, or you are part of a foreign country, but Japanese people do not have middle names.

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This might seem odd for some countries where our middle names are important, but it’s the norm in Japan.

Why This Is The Case

Legal documents only have space for a first and last name in Japan. This is also the case in countries like China and North and South Korea.

As such, if you wanted a middle name, it wouldn’t be able to go on any legal paperwork – which kind of makes having one pointless.

In many Western countries, middle names didn’t become popular until a few years ago.

Before then, it wasn’t uncommon for people to only go by one name.

So, since all countries work on their own timeline and preferences, who knows – middle names might come to Japan in the future, too!

The Exceptions

With that being said, there are some rare exceptions for when Japanese people might have a middle name.

This tends to be the case for people who have adopted different names for their religion (see also ‘The 4 Most Common Religions In Japan‘), or if their field of work requires it.

Many people who work on publications may be required to add a middle name or initial to their name in order to differentiate their work from someone with the same first and last names.

A Japanese person might also be given a middle name if they move abroad, whether alone or with their family.

This middle name isn’t obligatory, but might be given according to whichever country they are moving to.

They might also need to adopt a middle name to make their life more practical as a foreigner.

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Finally, a Japanese Person might have a middle name because they weren’t born in Japan.

While their middle name is unlikely to really be mentioned or written down on paperwork, they would still legally have a middle name thanks to their birth certificate from another country.

Middle Names In Japan – What If You Want One?

There are three options you can do with if you desperately want a middle name in Japan. Let’s take a look at these three options below:

  • Get a legal alias – if you are desperate to get a middle name, you can get a legal alias. This is a name that is separate from your legal name, but can be used for a number of purposes in Japan.
  • Add your middle name to your first name – a common solution that Japanese people come up with when they want a middle name is to simply add it to their first name. In Japan, no spaces or hyphens can be used in names. So, if you wanted a middle name, it would be Laurenmary, rather than Lauren-Mary. There are no rules against long names or names with many compounds, so it is a real possibility for anyone who wants to have some kind of middle name.
  • Become a citizen of another country and have dual citizenship – if possible, you can register the name (with the middle name) in another country. This option has been known to cause some issues, but tends to run smoothly for the most part. You should have the option of putting the middle name in brackets on the Japanese passport, which will make things a lot easier.

Addressing People Correctly In Japan

On the topic of names, it’s important to know how to address someone in Japan. Names are a crucial part of the culture in Japan, and so is respect.

If you are a foreigner visiting Japan, it might be a lot easier to accidentally be rude to someone by not knowing any better.

Rules and customs are very different here compared to most of the Western world, and when visiting Japan, it’s pivotal that you remember that.

If you meet someone in Japan, they will likely only tell you their surnames.

Even if you do find out their first names, you should never use it to address them unless you are extremely close.

Even then, however, it’s better to use surnames to address people.

Japan uses honorifics to address various people, and you will have an honorific that people will use with you.

For example, as a way of showing respect, someone might put san on the end of your name, and you should do the same.

If you are addressing someone who is of a higher social status than you, you would attach the honorific sama at the end of their name.

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These honorifics are simply a way of showing respect to whoever you are talking to, and while there are many more, those are the most important to remember.

Final Thoughts

Names are important in Japanese culture. From middle names (or a lack thereof) to honorifics, it’s important to know a little about the culture you are stepping into.

Even if it is for a short time, it’s important to have an understanding of a country and the way it works.

Middle names don’t really exist in Japan, unless there are special circumstances of it.

Hopefully this has answered the questions you have, and feel like you know a bit more about Japan. Are you planning on visiting?

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Jason Patrick

Hi, I’m Jason Patrick, and for as long as I have been alive, I have been obsessed with Japanese culture. From the sights and sounds of Japan’s many cities to its culinary delights that have become famous worldwide, I simply cannot get enough of this wonderful nation!

I hope that, by exploring this website, you all will develop a much deeper appreciation for Japan, and that it may even influence you to pay it a visit yourself eventually! It is definitely a trip of a lifetime, and whether you experience it firsthand, or through my own website, I’m sure you will become just as passionate as I always have been!

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FAQs

How do middle names work in Japan? ›

Given names are usually in kanji. Some given names are in hiragana or katakana (see Hiragana and katakana). Japanese people do not have middle names, and middle names are not recognized in Japan, except for foreigners.

Can Asians have middle names? ›

Any word in the dictionary can be used as a name,” says Wattenberg. Middle names are virtually unheard of in China. However, some Chinese people change, or Anglicize their names later on in life, and may choose to take a middle name at that time.

Can I give my child a Japanese name if im not Japanese? ›

It's OK for you to name your kid a Japanese name.

Does Japan allow middle names? ›

It is very uncommon for Japanese people to have a middle name. This concept is not followed or legally recognised in Japan, except in the names of foreigners. Japanese law requires married couples to have the same family name.

Can you have 3 names in Japan? ›

Japan requires its nationals/citizens to have exactly two names: a family name and a given name written in either 仮名 kana (Japanese syllabet) or 漢字 kanji (Japanese sinograms), with no punctuation of spaces.

How do names work in Japan? ›

Name order

In Japan, like in China and Korea, the first name follows the family name. A person with the first name "Ichiro" and the family name "Suzuki" is, therefore, called "Suzuki Ichiro" rather than "Ichiro Suzuki".

Why do Japanese people not say first names? ›

Unlike many western cultures, in Japan people generally don't call one-another by their first name. Doing so can be a mark of disrespect, unless you're very close to the other person and in the right sort of casual environment, so you've read.

Why do Koreans not have middle names? ›

The concept of a 'middle name' is not followed in South Korea. Traditionally, one component/character of a person's given name is a unique name chosen at birth as the individual's personal identifier. The other is a generation name that is typically shared by all siblings of the same gender within a family.

What cultures do middle names? ›

The majority of these early middle names in Italy were those of saints, with the idea what that those saints would protect the children who bore their names. Eventually, the use of middle names spread throughout Spain and France, the idea often carrying with it the class and religious dimensions it had gained in Italy.

What cultures use two middle names? ›

Multiple middle names are far more common in Europe, where the German tradition of multiple names was carried to Britain by members of the royal family, who were of German descent.

Why do Asians put last name first? ›

Traditionally, Chinese given names are structured by a two-character pattern. The first part is the generation name that is shared by all members of a generation, and the last character is given to the individual person. The reason Chinese people write their surname first is to show respect to the ancestors.

What is a cute Japanese name girl? ›

The most popular Japanese baby girl names

1) Himari (陽葵) Meaning: “good hollyhock” 2) Hina (陽菜) Meaning: “good vegetables, edible greens” 3) Yua (結愛)

Why do Japanese Add son? ›

"San," "kun," and "chan" are added to the ends of names and occupation titles to convey varying degrees of intimacy and respect in the Japanese language. They are used very often and it is considered impolite if you use the terms incorrectly.

Can a half Japanese have middle name? ›

Do they even have middle names? Japanese people do not have middle names. In fact, in Japan there are no spaces on any legal documents at all for middle names. However, a non-Japanese baby born in Japan will follow the naming laws of their nationality.

Do they flip names in Japan? ›

A new decree ordained that official documents should reverse the order of Japanese people's names when they are rendered in the Latin alphabet. Hitherto in, say, English documents, Japanese names have been written with the given name first, using the Western practice.

What is the middle of Japan called? ›

Chubu. The Chubu region is located in central Honshu, Japan's largest island. It is very diverse, including the cities of Nagoya, Takayama and Kanazawa, the Japanese Alps and the mighty Mount Fuji.

How do Japanese stay thin? ›

Having a balanced diet

In fact, the Japanese diet is very much balanced and versatile. They eat nutritious foods in each meal that includes carbohydrate, animal protein, vegetable protein, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals. Thus, they enjoy eating rice, fish, soy, vegetables, fruit, and green tea without sugar.

Can you have 2 nationalities in Japan? ›

A person who possesses Japanese and a foreign nationality (a person of dual nationality) shall choose one nationality before he or she reaches twenty two years of age (or within two years after the day when he or she acquired the second nationality if he or she acquired such nationality after the day when he or she ...

Why do Japanese say Chan? ›

Chan (ちゃん) expresses that the speaker finds a person endearing. In general, -chan is used for young children, close friends, babies, grandparents and sometimes female adolescents. It may also be used towards cute animals, lovers, or youthful women. Chan is not usually used for strangers or people one has just met.

What is Japan real name? ›

In English, the modern official title of the country is simply "Japan", one of the few countries to have no "long form" name. The official Japanese-language name is Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku (日本国), literally "State of Japan".

Do people in Japan call each other by their last names? ›

In Japanese business settings, people usually call each other by their last names plus the suffix –san. In more conservative companies, people are often addressed by their titles rather than their names, such as bucho-san for a department head.

What do Japanese couples call each other? ›

Men are referred to by their name + chan / kun, and women are referred to by their given name only.

Do Japanese put their surname first? ›

Traditionally, family names come first in Japanese, as they do in China and Korea. But beginning in the late 19th century, Japanese began adopting the Western custom of putting the given name first and family name second, at least when writing their names in English.

Can you have an English name in Japan? ›

No. In Japan, names have to be Japanese, and there are strict rules about how it needs to be done. An English name would logically be spelled out in katakana (a script used for foreign loan words mostly) or the Latin alphabet, neither of which would be allowed for official record keeping purposes.

Why do Koreans add Shi to names? ›

씨 (shi) When added to a name, this essentially means Mr./Mrs./Miss. It's the most common and general honorific, and your go-to for someone who you're unfamiliar with but is at a relatively equal social and conversational standing.

Why are Koreans not allowed to marry with the same last name? ›

Article 809 of South Korea's Family Law bars marriage between any man and woman “with the same family name and the same place of origin"--members, in other words, of the same clan, believed to share a male ancestor.

Are all Kims in Korea related? ›

But not even all those who are Kims by inheritance are the same. A basic unit of the Korean traditional kinship system is the clan, or bongwan, a group whose surname signifies a common geographical origin. Thus, different Kims can trace their lineage to different places, most notably Gimhae.

Is a middle name an American thing? ›

While middle names began appearing in the late Medieval times, they were reserved only for nobility in England with an old law making them illegal for the rest of the population. Since the Pilgrims and many early settlers came from England, early American tradition included just the two names.

Do middle names matter? ›

Nope. It's really up to you. In responding to our survey, 9 in 10 parents said they gave their baby a middle name – but there's no downside to going without. Some parents say no to the middle moniker based on family tradition: "I have a double first name and no middle, and my daughter will have the same," says one mom.

Do Italians give middle names? ›

Most Italians do not have middle names. But, giving a middle name seems to be trending as Italian parents try to help their child 'stand out from the crowd.

Who has the longest name in the world? ›

How Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk Koyaanisquatsiuth Williams Got Her Name. Basically, her mother had two main reasons for naming her the longest name in the world: She wanted to set a Guinness record.

What's the origin of middle names? ›

But the way we use middle names today originated in the Middle Ages when Europeans couldn't decide between giving their child a family name or the name of a saint. They eventually settled on naming their children with the given name first, baptismal name second, and surname third.

What is the most used middle name? ›

Top ten middle names:
BoysGirls
1JamesLouise
2JohnRose
3WilliamGrace
4ThomasJane
9 more rows
2 Jul 2014

Do South Asians have middle names? ›

Most Hindus and Jains will have last names derived from Sanskrit, or a language with Sanskrit roots. A note on middle names: in South India, Hindus will often use the father's first name for the child's middle name.

Why do some Asians have English names? ›

There are a number of reasons why, with the most basic being convenience. English speakers often had trouble pronouncing or spelling non-English names, and for many immigrants it was just easier to choose a new "American" name.

Is Xi a first or last name? ›

Xi is a common last name found among Overseas Chinese communities around the world. In fact, "Xi" is the transliteration of several different Chinese surnames. Its meaning varies depending on how it is spelled in Chinese, and which dialect it is pronounced in.

What is the cutest Japanese word? ›

We can't think of Japan without associating it with the word kawaii! Not only is kawaii (かわいい) an adjective to describe something that is 'cute', 'lovely', or 'adorable', but it is also part of a bigger culture in Japan.

What does Yuri mean in Japanese? ›

Borrowed from Japanese 百合 (yuri, “lily”), by analogy to 薔薇 (bara, “rose”), indicating love.

Is Yuri a Japanese name? ›

Yuri (ゆり, ユリ) is a feminine Japanese given name.

What Japanese name means sad? ›

Kanashii is a Japanese word meaning sad or sorrowful.

What Japanese name means rare beauty? ›

Hayami: A unique Japanese baby name meaning “rare beauty,” this is a special choice for a little girl.

What does Yuna mean in Japanese? ›

Meaning:Kindness. Yuna is a gorgeous feminine name of Japanese origin. It means "kindness," and will teach baby as many lessons in compassion and love as it can.

Why do Japanese say Moshi Moshi? ›

MOSHIMOSHI is an expression you use when you make a telephone call. There are several explanations about its origin, but it is generally believed that it comes from MÔSU, a humble form of “say.” When telephones began to be used in Japan, telephone operators were at work.

Can San be used for females? ›

But –san is a catch-all that can be used for both sexes.

Why do Asians add san? ›

As a rule of thumb, in Japanese business life, the surname name is always followed by the honorific suffix “san” (meaning “dear” or actually “honorable Mr/Ms.”). There are of course many other options such as “sama” (highly revered customer or company manager) or “sensei” (Dr. or professor).

How do you write middle names in Japan? ›

Japanese people do not have middle names. In fact, in Japan there are no spaces on any legal documents at all for middle names. However, a non-Japanese baby born in Japan will follow the naming laws of their nationality. There are exceptions to this rule.

Is Baby A Jr if the middle name is different? ›

From Behind the Name: "Junior is used to distinguish a son with the same name as his father. The following conditions apply: The Junior must be a son of the father, not a grandson. The names must be exactly the same, including the middle name.

How are middle names determined? ›

Some cultures use several middle names. Middle names today, when they're used, either follow a family tradition, are used to honor a person(s) in the family, or are chosen for fun or "flow" of the whole name.

Is it a big deal to call someone by their first name in Japan? ›

Unlike many western cultures, in Japan people generally don't call one-another by their first name. Doing so can be a mark of disrespect, unless you're very close to the other person and in the right sort of casual environment, so you've read. Mental note then: first names are best avoided.

What is the most common Japanese name? ›

Most Popular Japanese Baby Names (Kanji) in 2020
BoysGirls
1蓮 (1)陽葵 (1)
2陽翔(3)芽依 (2)
3湊 (2)陽菜 (12)
9 more rows
8 Dec 2020

Can foreigners use kanji in their name? ›

Some foreigners can have kanji names, but those are special cases. Since the Chinese and Korean both use kanji in their languages in some way or another, some Chinese and Korean names are able to use kanji.

What do you call a girl named after her mom? ›

A matronymic is a personal name based on the given name of one's mother, grandmother, or any female ancestor. It is the female equivalent of a patronymic.

What do you call a girl named after her dad? ›

Giving children patronymics—names derived from those of their fathers—is standard practice in some cultures.

Is it weird to not give your child a middle name? ›

Nope. It's really up to you. In responding to our survey, 9 in 10 parents said they gave their baby a middle name – but there's no downside to going without. Some parents say no to the middle moniker based on family tradition: "I have a double first name and no middle, and my daughter will have the same," says one mom.

Is everyone born with a middle name? ›

Today, some people don't even have middle names, some prefer to be called by their middle name, and some never even use theirs. But just be grateful that we don't trace our lineage back with multiple cognomina like some aristocratic families used to and end up with 38 names.

Can I pick my own middle name? ›

Like first names, middle names are sometimes preordained by religious or family customs, but you're probably like most parents and have free choice in the matter. This means you can do almost anything you like with your middle name choice.

Do Italians have middle names? ›

Most Italians do not have middle names. But, giving a middle name seems to be trending as Italian parents try to help their child 'stand out from the crowd.

Why do Japanese say san? ›

The Japanese suffix -san is polite, but not excessively formal. It can be broadly used to: Refer to anyone you don't know, regardless of status or age. Address equals of the same age.

How do you politely call a Japanese name? ›

Being polite: san and sama

様 (Sama) is usually added to the end of particularly esteemed people's names. The good news is that, most of the time, you will only have to use sama to talk directly to customers. Either add sama to the end of someone's name or refer to them as 客様 (Kyaku-sama) if you don't know their name.

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