Basic Japanese : Casual Japanese honorific titles
The following titles are commonly used casual Japanese honorific titles and very rarely used titles.
Never ever use any of these to higher ranking people or your customers unless you are very close to the person.
If you are not so sure which title to use to somebody, the person’s family name with “san” is probably the best choice to an adult or a girl.
To a little child, the child’s first name with “chan” (or “kun” to a little boy) is the most common, I guess.
Casual Japanese honorific titles in speech
- Generally used to a male. Some men use this to a female as well.
- At office, some may call the same (or lower) ranking men with this title.
At school, usually boys are called with “kun”, girls with “san”.
- Chiefly used to a small child.
- This may be used to an adult (usually female) who the speaker has a close feeling.
- In a Japanese police drama “Aibou” (lit. “Partners”), a female character “Hinako”, who is a member of the House of Representatives, is always called as “Hina chan” by her late father’s fellow politician.
Of course she wasn’t happy about it, and later she demanded him to stop calling her like that.
- In a Japanese manga “Tsuri-baka nisshi” (lit. “Diary of fishing freak(s)”), a protagonist Densuke Hamasaki is called as “Hama chan”.
- The family name of Tomas Hubocan, a Slovakian footballer, is pronunced as “Fubo chan” in Japanese.
I guess many Japanese (including me) can’t help having a kind of familiar feeling to him just because of his family name.
In fact, a Japanese commentary once said so on TV when he heard the player’s name.
“Yobi-sute” (calling somebody without “san” or anything after the name)
- In Japan, it is quite probable to be considered rather rude or arrogant to call somebody’s name only unless you are very close to the person (like family).
- Having said that, some Japanese call non-Japanese with the first name without “san” or equivalent even at work.
This is perhaps because they believe that it is more usual for non-Japanese to be called like that.
Personally, I feel rather awkward to hear a Japanese calling a foreigner without “san” in Japanese at office because it’s not very polite.
My Japanese friend in England once told me that Japanese students, who stayed at her house, kept calling her English husband only by name in Japanese, and she wasn’t very pleased.
- At school, probably many boys call the other boys just by name when they are classmates or underclass students.
“Otaku-ish” (nerdy) Japanese honorific titles in speech
Quite rarely used in front of other people.
I’ve never heard of anybody using any of these except in fictions. Better avoid using in public if you are an adult.
- It’s a lispy version of “chan”.
So, small children might say this instead of “chan”.
- Some male “otaku” use this for their favourite female characters or “idol”.
(“Idol” in Japan is a (young) good-looking star / starlet (usually without a proper talent as a musician or an actor / actress).)
- Personally, this has more “moe” impression.
“Moe” is a (“otaku”) slang to express strong one-way affection, passion or desire to somebody / something.
For instance, “neko tan” (“neko” means “cat” in Japanese) would give stronger excited feeling of the user than “neko chan”.
- A short version of “chan” (in Japanese, “chan” has three characters and “chin” has two), but not general.
- I feel this is less used than “tan”, although I actually used this when I called my LOVELY dog (not in public, of course).
- In a Japanese manga entitled “Seishun shonbori kurabu” (lit. “Adolescent crestfallen club”), there is a boy who uses this to girls with their first names.
He is accepted probably because he is a kind of joker and (most importantly) good-looking.
(And it’s a fiction anyway.)
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
The rest of “Iroha-uta”, line by line Line 3 From a Buddhism thought, “Free from living and dying(, by entering Nirvana)”. [First half] Meaning: The deep mountain called life, “Ui” is also a Buddhism word. It means “every thing and phenomenon which comes from various karma(, always lives and dies and never lasts forever)”. Some […]
There are several ways of saying “Thank you” in Japanese. In this post, I am going to explain the most common phrase for “Thank you”. Arigatou (gozai masu / mashita) The phrase was derived from “Arigatashi”, which literally means “difficult to be”. The Kanji in “ari” means “there is” or “be (there)”, and another in […]
The final post about numbers in Japanese. Number over quadrillion Numbers over “chou” (trillion to quadrillion) are quite rarely used. You may hear the following unit “kei” sometimes, but numbers over the unit “kei” won’t be seen in usual life. I’ve never seen it myself even in the news and I actually can’t name units […]
I’m sure many of those who have been to Japan would agree that one of the places that got them spend money are 100 yen shops. These are shops that sell items that mostly cost 100 yen exclusive of tax. The items range from food to housewares to accessories, or in other words, there’s a […]
Sugawara no Michizane is the person who is worshipped as god of study at the shrine, “Dazaifu Tenman-guu”. “Sugawara” is the family name and “Michizane” is the first name. He is also well-known as one of the Big Three Onryou (vengeful spirit) in Japan, along with Taira no Masakado and Emperor Sutoku. Life of Sugawara […]
At first, I was going to write about how to say “you” in Japanese, but the most common “you” word is a person’s name usually with suffix like “san”, “kun”, or “chan”. (ex. Hanako-san) This way of calling is used as third person as well. In this post, I’m trying to explain the variants and […]
“Kitano Tenman-guu” in Kyoto to console Michizane In 942, Michizane’s spirit showed up before a girl from a poor family in Kyoto and ordered to build a shrine for him in “Ukon no baba” (“hippodrome controlled by the right guard office”), the place where he often visited during his life. Of course she didn’t have […]
General Info : Japanese Alphabetical orders There are two patterns of Japanese Alphabetical orders. One starts with “A”, “I”, “U”. This is now used at school to learn Japanese Alphabets, Hiragana and Katakana. Known as “Gojyuu-on” (lit. “fifty sounds”). The other starts with “I”, “Ro”, “Ha”. Probably this was more commonly used before. Known as […]
“Iroha-uta” as a poem I’m going to explain the meaning of the poem in two posts. As I wrote in the previous post, it is thought to be composed in the Heian era (794 – 1185). In the major theory, the poem is said to express a doctrine from the Nirvana Sutra. But the poem […]
Roll up for the mystery tour! This one can be categorized as an urban legend as well. Masakado no Kubi-zuka (The burial mound for Masakado’s head) Quick History Taira no Masakado is said to be one of the Big Three Onryou (vengeful spirit) in Japan. There are some novels about Masakado, and “Teito Monogatari” […]