Japanese Names That Sound American: Phonetics Convergence

Names uniquely identify cultures of the world. Baby-names are carefully selected depending on their meaning and gender.

The rapid globalization spearheaded by technological advancements results in the exchange of words. It is through this exchange process that names are used across cultures.

This article will find a list of famous names in Japan with their meanings. Additionally, you’ll find the striking resemblance of these names to those used in America. Read to the end to find out more.

Japanese Names That Sound American

1. Anna

Anna is a traditionally feminine name popular in English-speaking countries. However, this name is a dime a dozen in Japan too. Being one of the oldest feminine names, Anna stems from the Hebrew culture with some traces of Roman culture.

2. An

An is a common name in Japan and America. People sometimes use this name as a shorthand for Anne. You should note that this name has its roots in China, meaning peace. Moreover, An is a gender-neutral name.

3. Emi

Emi is primarily a feminine name. It originates from France, and it means “second.” Pronouncing this name stresses the ‘A’ sound. Some American variants of this name include Amy, Amie, and Ami. The name sounds like a shorthand version of Emily, a common name in the US.

4. Aran

Aran is another name shared by the Americans and Japanese. This male name is of Hebrew origin, and it refers to “a wild goat” or “The forest.” The name is sometimes a variant for the outspoken “Alan.”

5. Arina

Arina is a feminine name that originates from Greece. Greek mythology designated Arina as the name for the goddess of peace. 

On the flip side, this name describes authenticity and affection in Japan. It is a popular name that sounds much like Irina.

6. Arisa

Arisa is a popular Japanese name for the female gender. The name means “There is sand,” which symbolizes warmth and freedom. 

Western names that sound like Arisa include Ares, Alice, and Lisa. Despite the name sounding American, Arisa is yet to make it to the top 100 baby names in the US.

7. Dan

Dan, a short form for Daniel, magically appears in Japan. Some Japanese use Dan as their first name.

It is a feminine name in Japan that means read. On the contrary, Americans use Dan as a male name meaning “God is my judge.”

8. Ema

This simple name originates from Latin. Englishmen popularly used this name in the UK before finding America.

It means universal and is used primarily for the fair sex. Its equivalent American name is Emma. Americans use Emma as a name on its own or a miniaturized version for Emily. 

9. Eri

Eri is a Japanese name for ladies that means “drawing.” The Japanese use this name in place of Eli, a famous American name. Other names whose phonics are akin to Eri include Ellie and Elly. This name, however, isn’t ranked in the top 100 popular baby names in the US.

10. Eren

Eren became popularized by the famous Attack on Titans, a Japanese Manga series. The eccentric “r” sound on this name transforms Ellen into Eren. It is a male name with Turkish origins, a saint, or a holy man. 

11. Erika

Erika is a Scandinavian name for lassies that means “Always a Ruler.” This noble name is a female version of Erik.

When pronounced, you can spot striking similarities to Eric, a common American name for males. Other names that sound much like Erika are Arika and Erikah. 

12. Hana

Hana is a Japanese name for lasses. It has a range of converging meanings, including happiness, blossom, flower, or bliss.

It is a ubiquitous name with traces of the Spanish and Slavic variants, Hanna and Hannah. The name currently ranks in the top 100 names for US births.

13. Jouji

Jouji, alternatively spelled as Joji, is a Japanese name for guys. Its pronunciation is much like the American male name, George. A stunning resemblance, right?

Jouji name means “The second son” in Japanese. Despite its remarkable similarities to George, Jouji is not a popular American name.

14. Jun

Jun is a gender-neutral Asian name common in Japan. You may have encountered the name multiple times in the anime world. In Japan, this name means either “king,” “talented,” or “handsome.”

It’s an American variant in June, a feminine name for babies born in June. Unlike Jun, you should also note that June originates from Latin after the Roman goddess Juno.

15. Jin

In Japan, Jin is a universal gender name that connotes tenderness. It sounds similar to the American names Gene and Jean. 

16. Ken

Ken is associated chiefly with Western Culture. Ken is a masculine name originating from Scotland to mean “handsome.”

Interestingly, Ken is also a Japanese name. It has different meanings depending on the Kanji in use. “Strong” best describes the meaning of this name in Japan.

17. Karin

Kairin is a Japanese name for males that means “pure.” It sounds more like a compressed version of Karen or Katherine. However, Kairin isn’t such a popular name in the US. 

18. Kairi

Kairi is another universal name originating from Japan. It means “Ocean” or “village” in Japan and has different meanings.

Kairi sounds more like Kyrie, an American name. Moreover, it sounds like Kylie, another famous name in America. The US birth records rank this name among the top 1000 popular baby names.

19. Keiri

Keiri is a Japanese name meaning “Angel.” This name finds itself in the streets of America with a sizable number of people bearing it.

It is the American version of “Kaylee” and “Caylee.” Some individuals also add flair to their name (Keiri) and into Kayla.

20. Maya 

Maya is another popular name shared by Americans and Japanese. It is primarily a feminine name of English origin, implying “Good Mother.” This name ranks in the 60th percentile of the popular baby names in America.

21. Mari

Mari is famous today and has various roots. It means “Of The Bitter Sea” in Hebrew. “Truth” and “Reason” are what the name means in Japanese. 

Mari is pronounced similarly to the American name Mary. Furthermore, Mary has its derivatives (Like Marie and Maria), which sound like Mari.

22. Mei

Mei is a female name of Asian origin. In Chinese, the name means “Plum.” It means “A Dance” in Japan. Its pronunciation is similar to May, an American female name of English origin.

23. Mika

Michael and Michaela are some American names traversing the ages. Mica and Mika are some short forms of writing this name. Mika is an actual Japanese name aside from being a short form for American names. It is a universal name meaning “beautiful.”

24. Naomi

Naomi is a feminine name of Hebrew origin common in both the US and Japan. It means “beautiful” or “gentle.” Western Cultures use this name extensively. This name ranks among the 100 popular US baby names.

Surprisingly, Naomi is also a Japanese name. The integration of two Kanji formulates it: “nao” and “mi.” Nao means frank, while mi means beautiful.

25. Nina

Nina is a female name of Spanish origin. It means “Little Girl” in Spanish culture. It is distinct, and anyone can easily pronounce it. The name is trendy in both Japan and the US.

The name possesses Slavic and European touches that make it stylish. You should also note that the name is not overused in either nation.

26. Noa

Noah is a Hebrew name designated for females and means the movement. The name is similar to Noah; the famous Biblical legend built an ark. Noa is a popular name in Japan as it is in the US.

27. Rei

Rei is a feminine Japanese name that means “bell” or “lovely.” The arrangement of the Japanese Kenji characters produces Rei, which sounds similar to Ray. Rei Ayanami is a prominent character from Neon Genesis Evangelion in pop culture.

28. Riri

Riri is a feminine name emerging from Japan. The Kanji character combination (Riri) means “sound” or “benefit.” The name sounds exactly like Rihanna’s pseudonym. Moreover, the name sounds like Lilly.

29. Rin 

Rin is a Japanese name that means “companion.” It is a unisex name, and anyone can use it. It sounds much like Lynn and Lin, popular in the States. 

30. Rena

The name Rena means joy in Hebrew. It sounds like Lena, an American name. In addition to being a name on its own, Rena can also be a short form for Irene. 

31. Risa

Risa is an Italian name for the feminine gender. It is a short form for Marisa. However, Risa has an entirely different meaning in Japan. It means “Gossamer of the village.” If you plug in the “Ri” rule, you’ll notice that Risa is another variant for Lisa.

32. Yugo

Yugo is a Japanese name for females that means “Abundant Child.” It is a variant option for the German name Hugo that is popular in the US. 

33. Sara

Sara is a feminine name whose roots go back to the Hebrew people. The name means “Princess.” It is one of the top names in the US as it is in Japan. It is a bit light and a contemporary substitute for Sarah.

The name also has variations spawned by multiple cultures across the world. For instance, Hawaiians use Kala, and the Finnish use Saara.

34. Reina

Reina dulcetly sounds more Western, albeit being popular in Japan. Its first Kanji character is the “wise,” followed by a phonetic. It is a nice name for ladies that means “queen.” Most people in the US are fascinated by this name, and it’s no surprise that many of them. 

35. Yuri

This name stems from Russia and has since expanded its popularity to other nations. It means “farmer.” You should note that the meaning of this name depends on the Kanji used.

In Japan, Yuri is a feminine name. Unlike Western nations that mostly use it as a male name. Remember Yuri Gargarin, the Hero of the Soviet Union?

36. Kei

Kei is another name designated for men. The name has also been increasingly used to shorten Keiko (a female’s name), somewhat neutral. This name sounds much like Kay.

37. Yujin

Even by merely pronouncing, this Japanese name has “Eugene” written all over it. Yujin (you-jin) means abundant and valuable. It is a unisex name whose meaning depends on the hanja used.

38. Riki

Riki means “power” or “strength” and is a masculine name in Japan. The name sounds similar to Rick and Ricky.  

39. Kai

Kai is a name used for boys and occasionally for ladies. In Japan, the name means “shell,” while the Hawaiian variation means “the ocean.” The name debuted in 1979 and has since cemented its position as a top name for babies. 

40. Kento 

Kento is a masculine Japanese name. Some Kanji combinations give this name a lucrative meaning, including “intelligent” and “wise.” Kent is an American name similar to Kento.

41. Ai

Ai is a feminine Japanese name that means “love” or “indigo.” Depending on the Kanji combinations, males may occasionally use this name too. Aiko and Ayo are some American names similar to Ai.

42. Juria

Juria is a Japanese name meaning “tree,” “flower,” or “love” designated for females. This name sounds like Julia, an American name.

43. Hiro

Various Kanji combinations give Hiro different meanings, including “abundant,” “prosperous,” and “tolerant.” The name was solely for boys. However, it is conventionally used for females too. The name sounds like Hero, a Western name. 

44. Rio

Rio is a Japanese name for lasses meaning “place of the cherry blossoms.” The name is popular with most girls and ranks way higher. Rio sounds much like Leo aside from appearing similar to the Brazilian city.

45. Reon

Reon is a masculine name commonly used in Japan. Like most Japanese names, its meaning is influenced strongly by the kanji character combinations. It sounds similar to Leon, a popular name borne by many Americans.

46. Rui

Alternatively written as Ruisu, Rui is a Japanese name for both genders. Depending on the Kanji combinations, Rui possesses varied meanings. Fortress and kind are a few of their numerous meanings.

The usage of this name is primarily due to foreign names that may translate into Rui in Japan. Such include Louis and Ruy.

47. Tomasu

Tomasu is the Japanese variant of Thomas. It is a masculine name with three Kanji combinations (To-masu). “To” means to rise, “ma” means whole, and “su” means long life. Like Thomas, Tomasu uses Tom as its short form.

48. Kinnari

The feminine name, Kimberly, is commonly used in America. Its variant, Kinbari, is widely used in Japan. However, Kinbari isn’t such a popular name in the US.

49. Kimi

Kimi is a female name originally from Japan. The name means “delight” or “beautiful,” depending on the Kanji character combination.

Its look-alike from the West is Kimmy, a female name too. Kimmy is a diminutive English name derived from Kimberly. It means “From the Meadow of Royal Fortress.”

50. Ria

Ria means “Asian pear” in Japanese. It is a feminine name similar to Leah, a famous American name. Additionally, Ria is a variant of the name Maria.

Conclusion

Many Japanese names sound American. There may be slight variations in the meaning of these names due to different Kanji character configurations.

You have also seen how Japanese names borrow from other global cultures. Technology and information have played a significant role in exchanging words across Japan and America.

Moreover, the close ties between Japan and America have hugely influenced the phonetics of these names.

John Taylor
John Taylor is a seasoned writer with more than 10 years of experience as a professional. He has written professionally for many different organizations, such as The Atlantic and the Boston Globe. John can write on any topic you need him to cover, from business writing to creative nonfiction pieces. His portfolio speaks for his skills; he's not only an experienced writer but also an excellent editor and researcher!

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