Nihongo de Onamae
  Your name in Katakana 
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The author of the original script (and most of the text) is FizzBomb. I haven't the faintest idea who he is, and whether he's still on the net, but he' s one smart fella for doing this. His original site at the University of Pennsylvania is no longer available. Fizzbomb/PaulC, if you're looking at this and have a problem with this being on my site, please contact me and we can discuss it.

   DON'T press Enter - it won't work

If your name is more European than English, you might try the modified Swedish site instead.

The Writing

There are not one or two, but four systems of writing in Japanese. They are:
  • Kanji
    Ideographic symbols which represent ideas rather than specific sounds. These are largely based on Chinese and cannot normally be used to represent your name unless you are really lucky to have a name that translates into coherent Japanese words (example: Soraya, written as the kanji "sora ya", means "sky arrow"). My name in Mandarin, for example can work out to something like Sa Ha Lin, which sort of means "Forest of the Laughing Sand"
  • Hiragana
    Used to represent grammatical modifiers or words for which no kanji exist. Used exclusively for Japanese words, so unless you are indeed Japanese, you shouldn't write your name in it.
  • Katakana
    Katakana is used for foreign words (and to provide emphasis to Japanese words at times). This is an almost exclusively phonetic system, where each character represents a specific syllable/sound. This is the script used to embroider your name on your belt.
  • Romanji
    The Roman character set, which you're reading now.

Japanese 101

or Why You Can't Say "Herman" in Kanji

Japanese is a language quite different from English and your other Western languages in many respects,. but since all we're trying to do here is write your name in Japanese, the basics will do.

In English and most other Western languages, each letter represents a sound. The same is true in Japanese, only each letter's (character's) sound is also a syllable. A Japanese syllable is composed of either a vowel, a consonant sound plus a vowel, or the letter "n". Because each character (except 'n') has a vowel in it, it sometimes becomes difficult to accurately represent Western names that have successive consonants in them (for example, Gladys, Bert, etc.). Usually a "u" is added to such troublesome consonants to make them fit with the system, since the "u" is often barely voiced in spoken Japanese. Thus, the name "Gladys" becomes "Gu-ra-de-su" in katakana, which is probably pronounced more like "G'ra-des". So things usually work out.

Speaking of vowels, here's what the vowels sound like in Japanese:

a like cha-cha
e like bed
i like cheese
o like ocean (actually, not quite, but it's the nearest English language equivalent. Try saying it without the dipthong)
u like blue (note: the u is often not fully pronounced) e.g. "tsuki" is more like "tski", and Kyokushin is actually pronounced more like "Keyoke-shin"

Consonants are pronounced as they are in English, except they're not all there. The most notable letter missing is "l" which is usually replaced with an "r". This is however still not a precise description of the relationship between these two letters because you will hear native Japanese speakers say the word for "six" i.e. "roku" a bit like "loku". The "n" character is pronounced like an "m" before the letters b, m, and p e.g. "Senpai" is pronounced "Sempai"

Armed with this knowledge, you might now be able to tweak your name's spelling before entering it into the magic machine.

You need to take into account whether you use American- or British-based English pronunciation, and I would say less so if you speak a non-English language. For example, if your name is Molly, you will get "Moruri" as your output. This is more English/European. If you are American, you will probably have to "tweak" the name to fit the Japanese pronunciation (the 'o' in the American Molly sounds more like the Japanese 'a') and by entering it as 'Mali', you get the more accurate 'Mari' This also illustrates another good point, which is to omit doubled consonants. While Japanese DOES have doubled consonants, the script isn't smart enough to handle them.

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