Filling Forms in Japan: a Short Guide

  • While in Japan, you will surely come across situations where you need to fill out some form in a bank, post office, library, when registering a new telephone or Internet connection or such. It will be difficult to figure out the words in a form if it is purely in Japanese. But there are some parts that are the same in all of forms and that have to be filled: Name, Address, Phone number etc. Knowing some common words and Kanji will certainly be helpful while filling a form in Japan.

    1. Name

    The Japanese word for name is “O name” (お名前). But in an application form we usually only see the characters “氏名” (Shimei) which means “Full Name”.
    But in any Japanese form you will also see the word ふりがな ( or フリガナ) near the name or address space. If the word is written in hiragana, we have to write the reading of our name in hiragana in the space provided. If it is in katakana, we should fill the reading of our name in katakana letters in the corresponding placeholder. Since most Japanese names are written in Kanji and each Kanji can have multiple readings, this space is provided to write down the exact reading of the name or address.

    2. Address

    The address box in a form will have the Japanese word “Jushyo”( 住所 ) which will be most often written as “現住所” (Present address). Japanese way of writing the address is done in a reverse manner from western style, it begins with the postal code, followed by prefecture name, followed by the area name (shi), and then our house number or bldg name coming last.

    3. The Current Date

    Date is “Hidzuke” (日付) usually accompanied by the characters 日 , 月 , 年 that stand for day, month and the year respectively.

    4. Date of Birth

    Date of birth is “Seinengappi” in Japanese and is written as “生年月日” in Kanji. There will also be spaces provided for the day, month and the year (日 , 月 , 年).

    5. Age

    Age is to be filled in the box with the kanji “年齢” that reads “Nenrei”.

    6. Gender

    Gender / Sex is written as “性別” (Seibetsu) . This will have the options “male” and “female” written in Kanji as “男” and “女” respectively. You need to circle the applicable one.

    7. Phone number

    Phone number is “denwa bango” in Japanese and the corresponding kanji is “電話番号” .

    8. Signature

    The signature in Japan is normally done using special personal seal called hanko (inkan). The kanji provided for this box is ‘署名’ (shomei) or a rectangular or circular box with the characters ‘印’ or ‘印紙’.

    9. Country

    For foreigners, if the form is related to official matters, you will sometimes have to fill your country name in, the box will have the Kanji “国籍・地域” for the word “Kokuseki, Chiki” meaning “Nationality/Region”.

    10. Photograph

    If the form needs your photograph, there will be a rectangular space with the word ‘写真’ (Shashin) provided.