Traditionally, Japanese family and place names consist of kanji which have meanings in the realm of nature and landscape. Here are some of the most common kanji, their pronounciations (well, some of them) and meanings:

川 - kawa, gawa - river
山 - yama, san - mountain
口 - kuchi, guchi - mouth, opening
新 - shin - new
原 - hara - meadow, plain
高 - taka - high
島 - shima, jima - island
田 - ta, da - rice field, paddy
林 - hayashi, bayashi - grove
森 - mori - forest
中 - naka - middle, inside
葉 - ha, ba - leaf
青 - ao - blue
赤 - aka, seki - red
黒 - kuro - black
白 - shiro - white
西 - nishi - west
北 - kita, ho - north
東 - higashi, tô - east
南 - minami - south
村 - mura - village
松 - matsu - pine
小 - o, ko - small
大 - oo - big
野 - no - plain
浜 - hama - beach
秋 - aki - autumn
夏 - natsu - summer
冬 - fuyu - winter
春 - haru - spring
月 - tsuki - moon
木 - ki - tree
本 - moto - root, source
羽 - hane, bane - feather
都 - to - capital
京 - kyô - capital

(To see the kanji correcty, you need a browser that understands the Unicode HTML entities in HTML 4.0 and a font to display them)

Some examples:

東京 - Tôkyô - eastern capital
秋葉原 - Akihabara - autumn leaf meadow
山田 - Yamada (common family name) - mountain paddy

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.