Always Forget Your Friends’ Names? 7 Tips to Remember a Japanese Name

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Japanese names are difficult to remember!

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How many times have you been in this situation? Your Japanese friends called you from a distance, you turned back and all you could do was just staring at him with a very awkward line “Ohhhhhh~~~~Hisashiburi!” Is it Tanaka? or Suzuki?

Oh no, failing to remember someone’s name is not only embarrassing, it’s sometimes insulting in business too. Don’t worry. Let me tell you some tips to remember a Japanese name.


7 Tips How to Remember a Japanese Name

7 tips to remember a Japanese name

1. Repeat their names aloud
It is always quiet during the self-introduction time in Japan. Japanese people they tend to listen quietly to a person self-introduction in a group without responding or asking any question. I asked my friend once, “Do you remember their names?”

“No, I don’t.” He said.  (swt…)

Yes, because you didn’t repeat their names and they will just be gone from your memory. Repeating a name at least twice : first as a question to confirm you heard it correctly, and second as a conversation starter.


2. Ask a question 
Try to ask a question during the group discussion or break time starting with their name. It doesn’t only help you remember the name, also it sends a message that you are interested in him and want to learn more about him. You can ask anything, maybe you can start with “Tanaka san, what is your hobby?”


3. Make a vivid association between their names and something you are familiar to
I have a friend called Mayuko, and I immediately related her name with Mayuge (Eyebrow in Japanese). Since then I never forget her name again. lol

It doesn’t need to be Japanese, you can make a vivid association with something in your language. For example my friend Mana, her name means “where” in Malay language.


4. Conclude the conversation with his/her name
Say something like this to him, “It was nice greeting you, Tanaka san.” (田中さん、本当に会えてよかったです)as your interaction with him draws to a close. After that, write down the name for reference and recall.


What if I forgot his name?

7 tips to remember a Japanese name

5. Make disclaimers
Prevention is always better than solution. After introducing each other, make a disclaimer that “I’m not good at remembering Japanese names. I might ask your name again. Please tell me again when I do.” Then you have the right to forget people names. lol

Just kidding. Making a disclaimer actually helps when you have to ask his name again. Just a sentence, why not?


6. Ask how to write their name in Kanji
Japanese Kanji has many different ways to pronounce. Even for a native Japanese, sometimes they don’t know how to pronounce a certain Kanji. Therefore, asking a Japanese how to write his name in Kanji, is always a good topic for conversation.


7. Ask their Facebook account
“Hey did I add you on Facebook?”

Try to ask for his SNS account name. Nowadays, people put different names on their SNS account so it’s common to fail remembering what a person’s account name is. I’m sure he will be happy to type his account name for you and then you can try to remember his name from his account name. :p



A Chinese Malaysian, Blogger, Vlogger on YouTube, Tour Guide in Japan. He believes 1 day his videos can bring Japan and Malaysia together. マレーシア華人、ブロガー、YouTubeクリエイター、日本にいるツアーガイドです。いつか自分の動画は日本とマレーシアを繋げる架け橋になると信じています。 Read more ABOUT him.