Share this link via
Or copy link
Below are navigation skips that will take you to the main text and navigation menu.
In Japan, you might encounter the situation that people use suffixes to attach to their names. We tend not to call someone’s name without suffixes unless she/he is your close friend or family member.
For instance, when you were introduced to Mr. Kenji Yamada at the first meeting, you wouldn’t say him ‘hi, how are you Kenji?” It seems friendly to some people but sounds like a bit impolite .
In Japanese culture, we usually use suffixes or honorific titles with their names. That way to interact with someone can convey your respect, politeness, or intimacy. The suffixes are differed by relationships or circumstances, oral or written communication, therefore, there are a lot of different types of suffixes and titles of honor. This article would be helpful to remember the rules to use.
It is a very common suffix and usually used with intimacy for children and females or pets, however, it also used for males and older people. It sometimes used by close friends regardless of they are adults or children.
ex: Mariko-chan (まりこちゃん) , Ken-chan (けんちゃん)
In modern days, this suffix is the designation of members of the family in general.
ex: onī-chan (お兄ちゃん) meaning:brother , onē-chan (お姉ちゃん) meaning:sister , ojī-chan (おじいちゃん) meaning:grandfather , obā-chan (おばあちゃん) meaning:grandmother , etc.
The suffix is commonly used for boys (both child and adult) with the same grade or younger. And there is sometimes the case when a male leader calls a female junior worker to attach “~kun”.
ex: Yamada-kun (やまだ君) , Haruto-kun (はると君)
The suffix is for an unmarried female. When “~kun” is used for only boys, “jō” is applied to girls, however, it is not commonly used these days.
ex: Yamada-jō (やまだ嬢) , Mariko-jō (まりこ嬢)
It is the most common suffix and it is used verbally and written, also it can be suitable for any situation to show your politeness. It is used with younger, the same grade, or older people at the first meeting. It can be useful if it is uncertain to make sure a person’s title or grade.
ex: Yamada-san (やまださん) , Mariko-san (まりこさん)
In modern days, this suffix is the designation of members of family or relatives in general.
ex: otō-san (お父さん) meaning:father , okā-san (お母さん) meaning:mother , oji-san (おじさん) meaning:uncle , oba-san (おばさん) meaning:anty , etc.
It is frequently used in business occasions. “Sama” is an honorific title that used for sending a letter to an individual with no matter if the person is older or younger. In addition to the situation, it sometimes used verbally in the hospitality industry such as luxury hotels or fine restaurants.
ex: (a receptionist at a hotel) Yamada-sama (やまだ様) , thank you for visiting us.
It is generally not used in spoken language but is written in a formal situation such as media or newspaper. It used to be for the only male, however, it is also used for females in modern days.
ex: Yamada-shi (やまだ氏) , Nakamura Tomoko-shi (なかむら ともこ氏)
It is used to call someone’s wives and usually, their husband has high social status.
ex: Yamada-fujin (やまだ夫人)
It is used for a woman who has a high social status such as a doctor, lawyer, or politician. The word joshi comes from Chinese woman who handled the clerical work of record keeping in ancient times; in modern Japan it is old-fashioned.
ex: Yamada-joshi (やまだ女史)
“Sensei” means a teacher, and it can be used as a title for those who have occupations including kindergarten teacher, school teacher, professor, doctor, lawyer, minister, politician, author, artist, or cartoonist, etc. It is used as an honorific.
ex: Yamada-sensei (やまだ先生)
It refers to a senior person who has joined in school, organization, or any community before you. Regardless of age or gender, it is used for a person who has experienced more than you.
ex: Yamada-senpai (やまだ先輩)
It is generally considered to be a word that is used in written for a public announcement or official document, also is used by senior to junior, therefore, it can be avoided to use for clients or business partners.
ex: Yamada Kazuya-dono (山田かずや殿) (in an internal document from CEO to a project leader)
Depends on the company, sometimes people often call someone’s name with their title. Sometimes the title itself is used as a substitute for the person’s name. If the organization doesn’t emphasize hierarchy, they usually call each other names with “~san”, without their title.
In terms of professors, lawyers, doctors, they are referred to as the previously mentioned “sensei,” or they may be referred to as honorific titles after their names.
ex: Yamada-professor → Yamada-sensei (やまだ先生) , Nakamura-lawyer → Nakayama-sensei (なかやま先生)
Governmental positions are also honorific titles after their names such as Prime Minister, Governor, Mayor, Ambassador, etc.
Abe-Prime Minister → あべ首相 , Yamada-Ambassador → やまだ大使 , Yoshimura-Governor of Osaka prefecture → よしむら知事
All of these titles themselves are honorific titles, therefore, they are not used in combination with honorific titles and suffixes.
Bad examples: Yamada-president-sama, Yamada-sensei-sama, Yamada-lawyer-san
If you are unsure of the person’s position or age at the first meeting, you can use “~san” so that it wouldn’t be taken impolite to them. Also, if you meet a child, you can use “~chan” to attach to the name, and it may be more appropriate to use “~kun” for boys over the age of 4 or 5.
Those rules may seem to be difficult as they are considered and influenced by their occupation, gender, age difference, or relationship. It would be useful if you remember the suffixes or honorifics to built friendships and communicate with Japanese people smoothly.
Supporting Ukraine Kids together
As the situation in Ukraine escalates, I feel with emotions too overwhelming to name. There are many children in Ukraine whose homes have been destroyed and without food and water. Gentle support is needed.
Please donate to Save the Children.
According to Google Analytics, Japanese Names.info has been visited from 217 countries and regions for 30 days. Of course, Ukrainian and Russian users are also included.
For the kind Russian people
Apparently this isn't broadcast on Russian TV, but what the Russian government is doing isn't actually a peacekeeping operation, but is more correctly described as an invasion and looting of your relative's country, Ukraine.
The only power that can change the reality in Ukraine is for the Russian people to speak out. Please touch the world media outside of Russia to see how your government is causing the tragic situation. Thank you for a peaceful world!e.g. UNICEF, Red Cross
Sort by Most Kanji Variation?
This is the order of names with many variations of kanji.
Basically, names with more variations are more common and familiar to the Japanese.
Sort by Most Viewed?
The names are sorted by the number of times they have been viewed on this site. This ranking is based on the behavior of users around the world, including Japan, so it does not mean that the names are commonly viewed by Japanese people only.
Please note that just because a name has been viewed more times does not mean it is a famous name in Japan.
What is Hiragana?
Hiragana is a syllabary used in written Japanese, which originated from the cursive style of Kanji.
What is Katakana?
Katakana is also a Japanese syllabary. Basically, the characters don't have any meaning by themselves, they only represent the sounds.
Japanese try to express the words came from foreign languages with the most similar sounds in Japanese using Katakana.
The names are sorted by the number of Japanese households where the surname is used.
The more households there are, the more famous and common the surname is.
About this site's data of last names