Guide to Pronouncing Japanese Names

posted in: Lian Writes... | 5

Vowels are pronounced in the following way (as in British pronunciation):

‘a’ as the ‘a’ in ‘father’

‘e’ as the ‘e’ in ‘met’

‘i’ as the ‘i’ in ‘macaroni’

‘o’ as the ‘o’ in ‘plot’

‘u’ as the ‘oo’ in ‘book’

‘ai’ as in ‘eye’ – except in the surname Arai, which is A-ra-i

‘ii’ as in ‘week’

‘uu’ as in ‘blue’

Consonants are pronounced in the same way as English:

‘g’ is always hard as in ‘get’

‘j’ is soft as in ‘jetty’

‘ch’ as in ‘church’

‘z’ as in ‘zoo’

‘ts’ as in ‘itself’

Each syllable is pronounced separately:

O-to-ri Ta-ke-o


Shi-ra-ka-wa Ka-e-de

Mu-to Ken-ji


A-ra-i Dai-i-chi

Ii-da Sa-da-mu



Emphasis is usually placed equally on each syllable.

5 Responses

  1. Johanna Gunnarsson

    Dear Mrs. Hearn,

    I read the Clans of Otori when I was only a teenager which truly has been my, on the top, favorite reads. I cannot give you enough credit on how much I enjoyed reading the books. I got so inspired it got me to travel to Asia, which has been one of my best choices in life. I have faced a problem for a couple of years though, I have been looking for the books in several bookstores around the world, but I cannot find the Clans of Otori collection, and I truly truly want to own the English versions. Would there be a possibility that you will give out a new edition?

    Kind regards,
    Johanna Gunnarsson from Sweden

  2. Hi Johanna,

    You can do find the English versions online at the Book Depository. They deliver worldwide free of charge. I lived in Asia for 5yrs and this is how I got English books.


  3. Lian Hearn

    Hi Johanna,

    Sorry I didn’t answer this before. Hachette in Australia have just brought out a new edition, and Pan Macmillan are going to reissue the whole series very soon. There is a new book out now – Emperor of the Eight Islands.

    I am so glad my books inspired you to travel through Asia. Thank you for your kind comments.

    All best wishes

    Lian Hearn

  4. Korsonus Tyr

    Although, several decades after being published, I came across a hardcover copy of Across the Nightingale Floor (Or it found it’s way to me), when I needed it most.

    Otori Shigeru was my favorite character, and I have a great deal of questions I have yet to solve about him as well as the others.

    Thank you so much for reminding me of a time and place where honor and integrity meant more than life itself. I think that’s something we have forsaken in the modern world.

    The series has quickly jumped up to one of my all-time favorites. And I look forward to continuing the journey through the rest of your works.

    Thanks again!


    • Lian Hearn

      Hi Tyr, thanks very much for writing. It’s amazing how books find their way to the right person at the right time. I hope you enjoy the other books too.


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