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Can you have 2 first names in Japan?


In Japan, naming customs are different from those in Western countries. While it is common to have a first name and a last name in many cultures, Japan has a unique system that separates the two. However, some people wonder if it’s possible to have two first names in Japan. In this article, we’ll explore the topic in detail.

Understanding Japanese Naming Conventions

Before we can answer whether you can have two first names in Japan, it’s important to understand how Japanese names work. Traditionally, Japanese names consist of a surname followed by a given name. The surname comes first and is shared among family members, while the given name is unique to each individual.

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What is Considered a First Name in Japan?

While many Westerners may think of their first name as their given name, the concept of a “first name” doesn’t quite exist in Japan. Instead, the given name is simply referred to as the “name”. This is why it’s common for Japanese people to introduce themselves by their full name rather than just their first name.

Can You Have Two Given Names in Japan?

While it’s not common to have two given names in Japan, it is technically possible. Some parents may choose to give their child two given names, but they would still need to choose one to be the official registered given name on legal documents.

How Do Japanese People Choose Names?

When choosing a name for their child, Japanese parents often consider factors such as the meaning of the name, how it sounds, and any cultural or historical significance it may have. It’s also common for parents to consult with a fortune teller or astrologer to help them choose a name that will bring good luck and fortune to their child.

What Happens When Someone Changes Their Name?

In Japan, it’s possible to legally change your name if you wish. However, the process can be complicated and time-consuming. If someone changes their given name, they must go through the same legal process as if they were changing their surname.

What Are Some Common Japanese Given Names?

Some popular Japanese given names for boys include Hiroto, Yuto, Haruto, and Sora. For girls, popular names include Sakura, Yui, Mei, and Hina. However, naming trends can vary depending on the region and time period.

What Are Some Unusual Japanese Given Names?

While many traditional Japanese names have been used for centuries, there are also some unusual and unique names that exist in Japan. Some examples include Nanao (meaning “seven tails”), Kaito (meaning “sea and sky”), and Rikuto (meaning “land and person”).

What Are Some Famous People with Two Given Names?

While having two given names is not common in Japan, there are some famous people who have adopted this naming convention. Examples include actress Yui Aragaki (whose given names are Yui and Wakatsuki), singer-songwriter Yumi Matsutoya (whose given names are Yumi and Arai), and fashion designer Issey Miyake (whose given names are Issey and Miyake).

What Are Some Similarities Between Japanese and Western Naming Conventions?

While there are many differences between Japanese and Western naming conventions, there are also some similarities. For example, both cultures often choose names based on their meanings or personal significance. Additionally, both cultures may use nicknames or shortened versions of names for informal situations.


In conclusion, while having two given names is not common in Japan, it is technically possible. However, choosing a name in Japan involves much more than just selecting a first name – it’s a complex process steeped in tradition and cultural significance.


Can there be two first names?

Multiple given names are common in many Western cultures, with the first name typically being the one used most frequently. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as in the instances of J. Edgar Hoover and Barbara Cartland.

Can you have 2 last names in Japan?

According to Article 750 of Japan’s Civil Code, a married couple must share the same family name, with the exception of international marriages. This typically requires one spouse to legally change their surname, which is usually the woman. This law is still in effect as of June 24, 2021.

Do first names come first in Japan?

In Japanese culture, it is customary for the family name to be listed before the given name, which is a common practice in many East Asian cultures.

Why don t Japanese use first names?

In Japan, it is not common to address someone by their first name as it may be considered disrespectful, unless you have a close relationship with the person and are in a casual setting. It is best to avoid using first names as a general rule.

Why do people have 2 first names?

Double names became a trend in England during the 17th century, particularly after Charles James Stuart was crowned King Charles I. The upper-class society adopted the trend of giving their children lengthy names, sometimes even up to 10 names, to demonstrate their social status.

Can I legally have 2 last names?

A last name that includes a hyphen would be something like Smith-Jones or Jones-Smith, and it’s up to you which name comes first. This is considered a legal name change, so you cannot simply drop your spouse’s name or the hyphen in the future without going through a formal name change process.

In Japanese culture, names can also be influenced by the seasons or events. For example, it’s common for names related to cherry blossoms (sakura) to be given to girls born in the spring. Similarly, names related to snow (yuki) may be given to children born in the winter. Names can also be inspired by popular culture or media, such as anime, manga, and video games.

Japanese names can also have multiple meanings depending on how they are written in kanji (Chinese characters). This allows for a deeper level of personalization when choosing a name. Parents may choose kanji that reflect their hopes and wishes for their child’s future, or that have personal significance for their family.

In recent years, there has been a trend towards using more gender-neutral names in Japan. This reflects a growing acceptance of non-binary identities and the desire to move away from traditional gender roles. Some examples of gender-neutral names in Japan include Ren, Haru, and Akira.

Finally, it’s important to note that while Japanese naming conventions may differ from those in Western countries, it’s always respectful to refer to someone by the name they prefer. Whether it’s a full name, a nickname, or something in between, taking the time to learn and use someone’s preferred name shows that you value and respect them as an individual.

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