[[quoteright:194:[[Manga/DragonBall http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/magogosora_2862.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:194:Son Goku's name is mispronounced by the announcer. [[LostInTranslation It's funnier if you speak Japanese.]][[note]]Translation: "Um, Mr. Mago Gosora..." "Isn't it 'Son Goku'?" "Huh?"[[/note]]]]

The pronunciation of most Japanese words is not easily gleaned from how they are written. In the UsefulNotes/JapaneseWritingSystem, words written in ''kanji'' often have multiple pronunciations depending on context. Basically, there are two main reading styles for Chinese characters in Japanese, ''kun-yomi'' and ''on-yomi'', both of which can lead to a lot of word play (as in the page's example):
* 訓読み ('Kun-yomi') is based on the native Japanese word for whatever the character represents (e.g. "inu" for 犬 (dog)). These readings date back to before the Chinese writing system came to Japan (Japan had no writing system of its own until they started importing Chinese writing around the mid 4th-century). Kun-yomi is most often used when a character appears singly, often with "okurigana" (the hiragana that comes after a kanji to provide completion and/or inflection, verbs being a notable example). There can be many kun-yomi for a single character. Examples: 読む (yo-mu = to read), 書く (ka-ku = to write), 食べる (ta-be-ru = to eat), 星 (hoshi = star). Even though kun-yomi is often reserved for single character appearanaces, you can also sometimes find it in combinations, like 名前 (na-mae = Name), which uses kun-yomi for both.
* 音読み ('On-yomi') is based on the Chinese pronunciation at the time the particular character was imported, modified to fit into the available syllables in Japanese (来 ("Lai") became "Rai" for instance). It is usually a single syllable, or at most two syllables. Many characters only have one on-yomi, but a large number have multiple Chinese readings based on how Chinese people said the word at various points in both location and history. These are usually used when the characters appear together in combinations. Examples: 読書 (doku-sho = reading), 食事 (shoku-ji = meal), 火星 (ka-sei = Mars), 日本 (ni-hon = Japan). Even though on-yomi is usually reserved for combinations, you can often find it used with single characters also, notably 愛 (ai = love), which uses on-yomi (itoshii, mederu, and mana are the kun-yomi readings).
* Almost all characters have an on-yomi reading, and most have a kun-yomi reading, but many only have one or the other (for example, 昨 ('saku' = previous) only has on-yomi, while 辻 (tsuji = crossroads) and 込む (ko-mu = to pack in) are Japanese-made Chinese characters (国字 = kokuji), and only have kun-yomi. Note that this is not true of all 国字: 働, meaning 'work', has both the on-yomi 'dou' and the kun-yomi 'hatara-ku', and 腺, meaning 'gland', has only the on-yomi 'sen').
* Most Japanese words use fully one or the other. For example, combined characters are usually all read with either kun-yomi or on-yomi. Example, 流れ星 (naga-re-boshi = shooting star) is read with the kun-yomi for both characters. A good tip is the middle hiragana, which is okurigana for 'naga-re' (to flow), which generally (but not always) indicates that kun-yomi should be used. However, this word can also appear as 流星 (ryuu-sei = shooting star), which use the same characters, both read with on-yomi. Some words, however, use a combination, where one character is read with kun-yomi and another with on-yomi. This is very rare, but you can see it in common words like: 焼肉 (yaki-niku = Grilled meat) uses both kun-yomi (yaku, which would be 'shou' with on-yomi) and on-yomi (niku, which has a rare kun-yomi 'shishi'). These words are called 湯桶読み (yu-tou-yomi) and 重箱読み (juu-bako-yomi) depending on the order (kun-on = former, on-kun = latter).
* People and place names very often use kun-yomi, hence the joke in the page's example (the announcer was trying to use pure kun-yomi), but on-yomi is used often enough to make this a hard rule to follow. For example, 青森 (Aomori) uses kun-yomi (on-yomi would be something like "Sei-shin"), but Japan's two major cities, 東京 (Toukyou = Tokyo), and 京都 (Kyouto = Kyoto) both use on-yomi (not "higashi-miyako" or "miyako-miyako").
* Another pronunciation is known as ''jukujikun'' (熟字訓), where one would just have to memorize a certain reading of a multiple-character word and not derive it from on-yomi or kun-yomi. One cause behind this is that many words were established before the Chinese characters were brought over, and the characters were chosen to match the meanings rather than their sounds. For example, 明日 (meaning tomorrow), would've been 'mei-nichi' in on-yomi, or 'akari-hi' in kun-yomi, but is instead 'ashita' (or 'asu' depending on politeness).
* Yet another one is ''nanori'' (名乗り) where kanjis have irregular readings found in names and ''only'' in names, behaving sometimes like jukujikun. A very common one that you will see throughout this page is the surname ''Takanashi'' (小鳥遊), read normally as ''kotori asobu''.[[labelnote:Reason because]]Kotori asobu means "little birds at play", and implies that no hawks are present. Thus, the phrase taka ga inai (鷹がいない) meaning "no hawks around" gets compressed into Takanashi.[[/labelnote]]
* Wiki/ThatOtherWiki has a great explanation [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji#On.27yomi_.28Sino-Japanese_reading.29 here]]

To help with all this confusion, phonetic glosses called ''furigana'' are often provided in smaller characters next to the kanji. This invariably happens for names (whose pronunciations are notoriously idiosyncratic--see ''nanori'') and terms with infrequently-used kanji. Publications for younger readers will often gloss common words as well.

Sometimes, the gloss will show a non-standard reading or another kanji, usually to clarify or highlight a particular nuance the author wishes to convey. This is known as ''gikun'' (義訓), and is differentiated from ''jukujikun'' by being a stylistic choice instead of a systematic property. This technique dates back to the Man'yōshū and Kojiki, and was very common among Edo period writers (mixing and matching Chinese words to Japanese glosses) and Meiji writers (mixing and matching Sino-Japanese words to recently borrowed Western glosses). A few common examples:

* Making puns by giving the kanji for one word and a reading corresponding to a different one.
* Glossing semantic compounds made from Chinese characters with a reading borrowed from another language. For example 氷島 means "ice" "land" and is pronounced "aisurando", even though normal rules say it should be pronounced either "korishima" or "hyoto". No points for guessing what it refers to.
* Identifying the person being referred to with a pronoun such as "I" or "he," much like video games with voice acting and [[HelloInsertNameHere custom character names]] may have "you" in the audio and the assigned name of the character in subtitle text.
* Sometimes the furigana will be an English word in katakana, most likely as RuleOfCool. (e.g. スマイル ''sumairu'' for 笑顔 ''egao''), both meaning "smile". This example is often milked to hell and back in most shounen-based manga. For some cases it can be used cleverly not only for wordplay, but it can also allow for some who know enough kanji to understand the context of some strangely crafted English terms (akin to BuffySpeak).

The subtle nuances that can be achieved with the use of an alternate reading are almost always LostInTranslation and will at worst end up being unfunny because [[DontExplainTheJoke detailed explanation is compulsory]]. On the flip side, alternate readings are frequently used when adapting something from English to Japanese in order to retain English names or puns.

One note is that kanji characters, having Chinese roots, also have Chinese pronunciations, and one can go from there to other derived regional readings. These readings are rarely used for word plays.

A somewhat related though fundamentally different wordplay is ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ateji ateji]]'' (当て字), where a word is phonetically transcribed into a series of kanji characters. For example, the kanji written form of sushi, 寿司 (su-shi) is an ateji, and literally means something like "lifespan-administrator". The characters' meanings will be disregarded most of the time, though semantics will sometimes be considered (and often for stylistic reasons).

Rough equivalents in English would be ItIsPronouncedTroPAY, StevenUlyssesPerhero, and LouisCypher, and this can lead to similar humor (DoubleEntendre, HehHehYouSaidX, UranusIsShowing...), {{Foreshadowing}} and [[PoorCommunicationKills drama]].

Not to be confused with AlternativeCharacterInterpretation. See GoroawaseNumber for creative Japanese interpretation of numerals.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* [[InvertedTrope Inverted]] in ''Manga/AirGear'': two characters are both named [[spoiler:Sora Takeuchi]], but one is written using the kanji for "sky" while the other is written using the kanji for "space".
* Two major characters of the ''Manga/{{Area 88}}'' TV series, Kazama Shin and Shinjo Makoto, have names written identically in kanji. They comment on this when they first meet.
* In ''{{Manga/ARIA}}'', the title for a professional undine, as opposed to a trainee, is written with kanji meaning "to become an adult" and furigana indicating the pronunciation "purima" or "Prima".
* ''Manga/AssassinationClassroom'': Kimura's first name is written with the kanji for "Masayoshi" (正義), but it actually reads as "Jasutisu" (Justice), [[EmbarrassingFirstName much to his embarrassment]]. Becomes a BilingualBonus when you know the kanji sequence can also be read as ''seigi'', which is, wouldn't you know it, Japanese for "justice" (his father is a police officer who takes "to serve and protect" pretty damn seriously).
* ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh'':
** One strip has a quick joke about Kagura misreading "Iriomote" as "Nishihyou".
*** The case of Iriomote is a strange example or a ''cross-language'' AlternateCharacterReading, as the kanji used to write Iriomote (which would be pronunced as Saihyou under ''on-yomi'' or Nishiomote under pure ''kun-yomi'') is a special reading for ''West Island''... in Okinawan.
** During one scene in the anime the class remarks on the beauty of the "sea of clouds" ("''kumo'umi''") during a plane ride. Yukari tells them that phrase is usually pronounced "''unkai''" and promises to drill them on kanji reading after the trip.
* In ''Manga/{{Bakuman}}''The two protagonists get three of these between them:
** Mashiro's classmates often call him "Saikou", which is an alternative reading of his name "Moritaka" (最高). His new friend and partner Takagi also keeps calling him that.[[note]]Saikou is the ''usual'' way to pronounce those kanji when used as a word ("highest"), not a name.[[/note]]
** When Mashiro gets annoyed of Takagi calling him Saikou, he starts calling him "Shuujin", which is an alternative reading of "Akito" (秋人). Some of Takagi's friends call him "Shuuto", which is yet another way of reading Akito.
** {{Handwave}}d for their [[MeaningfulName meaningful pen name]]: you wouldn't usually pronounce "dream comes true", "夢叶", as "Muto". Miyoshi insists one of her relative's name is written with those kanji reversed, "叶夢", and pronounced "Tomu".[[note]]Or "Tom".[[/note]]
** Inverted for Aoki Yuriko/Kou: Her real and pen names' pronunciation and meaning ("[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distinction_of_blue_and_green_in_various_languages#Japanese blue]] tree") are the same, but they are written with different kanji, "青木" and "蒼樹".
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', arrancar techniques and ''zanpakuto'' are given kanji spellings and GratuitousSpanish readings (ditto for Quincy terminology, but in GratuitousGerman). For a couple examples, we have Nnoitra's ''zanpakuto''; kanji for "sacred crying mantis" are pronounced "Santateresa" (Spanish for Saint Teresa, also a term for mantises). Starrk's release is pronounced ''Los Lobos'' ("the wolves") and written with kanji meaning "wolf pack." Japanese names aren't immune, either. Uryuu's name (meaning "rain dragon") is a nonstandard reading; when Ichigo first saw it in writing, he pronounced it "Ametatsu."
* ''Anime/{{Canaan}}'''s episode titles use typical pronunciations, but are written with unusual kanji: one episode with a title pronounced "Friend" is written with the character for "light" in its place, while "Seasonal Train" uses kanji meaning approximately "mourning the murdered" instead of the normal one for "season." This even carries over to its sole English episode title--"Love & Piece" deliberately swaps out "peace" for a double meaning.
* ''LightNovel/LoveChunibyoAndOtherDelusions''
** The surname Takanashi discussed elsewhere on this page
** Kumin Tsuyuri's surname is written as 五月七日 (May 7th) in kanji; Tsuyuri being a festival that falls on that day. In Episode 2, Yuuta did mispronunce that as Gogatsu-nanoka, and has to be corrected by Kumin.
** [[spoiler:Shinka's {{epithet}} "Mori Summer" comes from this (both with Japanese and English readings!): the first kanji is "shin" in on-yomi and "mori" in kun-yomi. The second kanji is "ka" in on-yomi, or "natsu" in kun'yomi, but it is also "summer" in English.]]
** Quite a few of the members of the class have names with non-standard readings. Of note is the girl with surname 子子子子, apparently read as Sunekoshi.
* The ''LightNovel/CrestOfTheStars'' novels and their sequels use this to give the artificial language Baronh. The meaning is given with the ''kanji'' and the Baronh pronunciation is given with the furigana. The English translations just had very large glossaries.
* The main character of ''Manga/TheDayOfRevolution'' goes from [[GenderBender Kei to Megumi]] by reading his name differently. This is one of the clues his old buddies use to figure it out.
* ''Manga/DeathNote:'' The main character is called Light, in English, but the kanji is ''Tsuki'' (月), which means moon. ''Raito'' written with "moon" is actually a real name outside of the series, but it's rare, and feminine at that. But why the hell not, you get a MeaningfulName out of the deal, since the kanji for tsuki has [[FourIsDeath four strokes]] and LightIsNotGood.
** The kanji for moon actually has lots of interesting name readings, such as ''Aporo'' ("Apollo"), ''Arute'' ("Arte"mis), ''Runa'' ("Luna"), and ''Mūn'' (not even creative there, that's just "Moon").
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan''. Heck, where to start? This kind of thing happens all the time, with clues and "dying messages" occasionally being misinterpreted when first encountered, or that these need to be read a different way to be fully understood, which is often intentional on the victims' (or even killers') part to keep others from figuring it out before hand. Not to mention that they usually have 2-3 puns per episode.
** In ''Moonlight Sonata'', [[spoiler:Seiji Asai [[HarmlessLadyDisguise lived as a female doctor]]]] on the Tsukukage Island for two years and when Conan [[PullTheThread pulled the thread]], [[spoiler:[[UnsettlingGenderReveal locals were surprised about his actual gender.]]]] How could [[spoiler:he]] pull that out? First, [[DudeLooksLikeALady the looks]], and second, [[spoiler:he]] didn't even need to change the papers but merely changed how the name 成実 is pronounced-- [[spoiler: he switched from the masculine ''on-yomi'' reading ''Seiji'' to the feminine ''kun-yomi'' reading ''Narumi''.]]
** There was a case when a Sonoko and Ran asked the name of a TV producer in person, the answer was the kana for ''Hozumi''-- that was because his actual surname was 八月一日, which is usually understood as "First of August" and would be hard to understand the reading that led to his naming.[[note]]''Hozumi'' is literally "picking ears of grain"-- and the said date, commonly considered as the beginning of the harvesting season, is sometime remembered as the day ''when ears of grain are picked''.[[/note]]
** When Shiho Miyano re-invented herself [[MeaningfulRename as Ai Haibara]] (sorta), she chose an alternate kanji for "Ai" that means "sorrow" instead of "love".
* Played with in ''Manga/DragonBall'' when the [[CombatCommentator Tenkaichi Budokai announcer]] mispronounced Son Goku's name as "Mago Gosora" the first time he reads it. At the next tournament, he misreads Chiaotzu's name as "Gyoza". This gets LostInTranslation in the English dub of the anime, since rather than trying to explain character readings to the audience, the dialogue is changed so that it's made clear the announcer is struggling with reading some [[TheIllegible poor handwriting]] on the contestants' entry forms. This actually fits [[BookDumb Goku's character]] as he's only just learned to read and write in the last few months before his first tournament.
** Shenron's name is an example - the kanji mean "god dragon" and would normally be pronounced "shinryuu", however the furigana give it a Japanese approximation of the modern Chinese pronunciation (Shénlóng). This also later comes into play in the third tournament, in which Kami (AKA {{God}}) participates incognito by [[DemonicPossession inhabiting]] a human named Shen. Goku figures out his real identity when he remembers that the kanji for "Kami" also has the reading "Shen" in its Chinese pronunciation, as in Shenron, the divine dragon. The titular Dragon Balls also use this, each one being named in Chinese.
* In ''Manga/{{Eyeshield 21}}'' the kanji for "kuso" (shit) has "fakkin (fucking)" as its furigana. Also, when Sena sees Taro Raimon's name on the roster for the baseball team (as "Raimon Taro"), he misreads it as "Kaminari Montaro", leading to his being nicknamed "Monta"[[note]]to keep from ticking him off, Hiruma covers it up by claiming it comes from Joe Montana[[/note]].
** Another example has [[DumbMuscle Natsuhiko]] [[TheLancer Taki]] develop a special move with a kanji name, accompanied by [[LampshadeHanging "clearly impossible furigana"]].
* The title kanji for ''Manga/FullMoonOSagashite'', 満月, are pronounced as their English meaning "furu muun". While referring to Mitsuki's alter-ego, the same kanji are read as her first name and as "mangetsu", the term for a full moon.
* In the ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'' manga, the kanji 強敵 (normally read as ''kyouteki'' or "fierce adversary") is given the reading ''tomo'' (とも), which the Japanese word for "friend", which serves to indicate that not all of Kenshiro's adversaries are bitter enemies, but more like equal rivals.
* In ''Manga/GAGeijutsukaArtDesignClass'', Miyabi Oomichi's name is pronounced "Masa" by Namiko. Additionally, when Tomokane is looking at the schedule for the next class, she reads "sobyou" (sketching) as "suneko". They soon discover Kisaragi spacing out, which Noda correctly guesses was the result of her imagining "suneko", interpreted as "fresh cat" or "raw cat". And thus begins the drawing of Suneko the cat... especially in Kisaragi's croquis book.
* This seems to be becoming a {{running gag}} in ''Manga/{{Gate 7}}'' where Takamoto is concerned. Many names of places, organizations, are pronounced like already-familiar Japanese terms, but are spelled with completely different kanji (this is done by using alternate readings of said kanji). The comedy is that Takamoto keeps assuming that everyone is using the usual kanji for the pronunciation (even when it might imply something crude or dirty)--{{hilarity ensues}}.
* In ''Manga/GetBackers'', [[EmotionlessGirl The Professor]] mentions "time," foreshadowing the last arc, "Get Back the Lost Time". It was written with the kanji "engraved," with the "time" reading over it, meaning time that is engraved or fate. Both the English and French translations went with "time".
* When Gohda gives Aramaki his business card in ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex 2nd Gig'', he emphasizes that his given name (一人) is pronounced "Kazundo" and not "Hitori" as Aramaki initially assumes. (Regardless of pronunciation, his name means [[ArcWords "individual"]].)
* In the original ''Anime/{{Grenadier}}'' manga, furigana are used constantly to give foreigh pronunciations to given sets of kanji, despite the fact that this is ([[AfterTheEnd supposedly]]) set during the Japanese sengoku period.
* A central plot element in ''Anime/HaibaneRenmei'', coinciding with [[MeaningfulName Meaningful]] LineOfSightName.
* The title of the ''VideoGame/HarukanaruTokiNoNakaDe'' franchise[[note]]roughly meaning "Within the expanse of distant time"[[/note]] has the word "time" (''toki'', normally written as 時) rendered with two kanji that mean "time-''space''" (時空, normally read ''jikuu''). This is because the plot ''Haruka'' is based around isn't strictly a TimeTravel, but rather a TrappedInAnotherWorld scenario, where "another world" happens to resemble [[JidaiGeki Heian-kyou]][[note]]It isn't clear whether there's actually any time shift or not, since the world [[YearInsideHourOutside appears to have an independent timeline]][[/note]], and explicit mention is made about "crossing time and space." The same trick with ''toki'' is occasionally used in the songs, though naturally you'll only realise it when you ''read'' the lyrics.
* ''Anime/HimeChenOtogiChikkuIdolLilpri'': Natsuki's name is written with kanji that is usually read as meigetsu (harvest moon), a reference to her {{Fairytale Motif|s}} Kaguya-hime.
* In episode 15 of ''Anime/TheIdolmaster'', Yayoi mispronounces 行楽日和 (ideal weather for an outing), normally pronounced "kouraku biyori", as "gyouraku biwa", and 山間部 (mountainous region), normally pronounced "sankanbu", as "yamamabe". Iori has to correct her - during a live broadcast, no less.
* In ''Manga/IrisZero'': the MagicalEyes are pronounced “Iris”, somebody without them “Iris Zero”, but the kanji used mean “pupil”[[note]]the hole in the iris[[/note]] and, roughly, “incomplete person” or “somebody that is missing something”.[[note]]瞳 (hitomi) and 欠落者 (ketsurakusha)[[/note]]
* ''Manga/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple'': Hermit's name is written as "haamitto" when written with katakana. When written with kanji characters, it's "inja" (which, of course, means "hermit"), but the furigana for these kanji is still "haamitto" in katakana.
* ''Manga/ZatchBell'' plays with this from time to time. One episode had part of the title translating roughly to "Searching for the Light", but the kanji given for light was actually the word "shouki" which means "way to victory", with "hikari" (light) given in the furigana.
* ''Manga/LivingGame'' has [[http://www.onemanga.com/Living_Game/3/07/ Hiyama Izumi]], a young girl (around high school age) whose given name is written with kanji that can be read as Ikkaku, apparently a [[http://www.onemanga.com/Living_Game/3/05/ male-sounding name]].
* In the ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' manga, the spells are written in kanji, with the Latin pronunciation in furigana. The anime replicates this by usually having the characters say the Japanese reading while the foreign pronunciation is said simultaneously in an echoey and quieter back track.
** The title which Negi is after is usually written with the kanji "great magic-user", but given the gloss "Magister Magi". The pronoun variant of the trope has also happened in the manga.
* ''Manga/MajinTanteiNougamiNeuro'' does this an awful lot; for one, we've got episode names. They're all one kanji long, but have interesting readings--for example, the kanji for "hair" is read as "a long friend." There are also a few character names; for example, "X" being read as "Sai."
* ''Manga/MinamiKe'' uses Kana's misreading of the kanji for "underworld" as a harmless place name for a quick gag.
* [[Franchise/{{Nasuverse}} Kinoko Nasu]] loves this. Almost every single term in his stories is written with kanji and furigana to give a double meaning to every single thing. This even applies to the ending songs for the anime adaptation of ''LightNovel/{{Kara no Kyoukai}}'', where non-standard kanji are given for lyrics in the liner notes.
** Special mention to the ''[[VisualNovel/FateStayNight Fate]]'' series, where all Assassins have a Noble Phantasm named Zabaniya. However, they all have different effects and different kanji spellings.
* Something of an important plot point in ''Anime/MazeMegaburstSpace'' regarding how the title character got [[GenderBender his/her]] name. [[spoiler:Mei's brother Akira has a name that with an AlternateCharacterReading can also be read as 'mei' Thus the two get the nickname Meis which after their FusionDance morphs into Maze.]]
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' has the, uh, structure that gives Angels unlimited power, which due to the kanji used can be translated either as "S2 Engine" or "S2 Organ." The ambiguity helps to ramp up the Angels' [[EldritchAbomination weirdness levels.]]
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' makes frequent use of this for the sake of puns. Also, since Oda often uses uses multiple languages in characters' attack names, we'll often see the kanji for the attacks' meaning with katakana giving the foreign pronunciation.
* In ''Manga/ThePrinceOfTennis'', Kintarou calls Echizen "Koshimae" as that is the alternative reading for Echizen. [[RunningGag Echizen always gets annoyed and ends up correcting him.]]
* ''Franchise/SailorMoon'':
** The ''Manga/SailorMoon'' manga was fond of this. Attack names would often be given in kanji but the furigana would be English words written in katakana.
** Minako is a common name, but the kanji can be read as bi-na-su, similar to Venus.
** This is played in the [[Series/PrettyGuardianSailorMoon live-action series]] as well. In an early episode, Usagi finds a card dropped by Mamoru Chiba and reads his name as "Ei Chijo" (she was reading the alternate pronounciation of each kanji). As we know, she only got the "Chi" right.
** A common trait across adaptations is that Usagi is awful when it comes to kanji, whether reading or writing it. In [[http://wikimoon.org/images/ep127.jpg episode 127]] of the [[Anime/SailorMoon first anime]] written by her ''future self aka Neo Queen Serenity.'' Since the puns were obviously hard to translate, dubs tend to say that the letter has grammar/writing mistakes and/or bad handwriting.
* ''Manga/SayonaraZetsubouSensei'' relies on alternate readings for many of its [[MeaningfulName name puns.]] The title character's family suffers to a great extent of what happens when the characters for their surname are combined into a single character.
** In "The Cat That Was Told a Million Times", one of the people he sympathizes with after his own name is made fun of is named Mitarai, which is written 御手洗, or the same as "toilet".
* ''Manga/MyBrideIsAMermaid'' uses this a lot, most notably accompanying the recurring quote "Written as Mermaid (Ningyo)... Read as Chivalry (Ninkyo)!"
* ''Manga/ShamanKing'': [[{{Miko}} Anna]]'s family name "Kyoyama" is an alternative reading of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Osore Mt. Osore]], where the festival of spirit mediums is held.
* In ''Manga/SlamDunk'', Sakuragi calls the Sannoh (山王) team "Yamaoh", partly to try and rile them up, partly just because he's BookDumb. Also, some characters unfamiliar with Rukawa call him "Nagarekawa" because they don't know the first kanji of his name (流, which means "flow", discussed above) uses the on-yomi form ''ru''.
* ''Manga/HeavensLostProperty'' uses this tactic in its episode titles. A good example is episode two, which has the kanji for "rainbow-colored underwear" ([[ItMakesSenseInContext it makes more sense in the episode]]) read as "romance".
* The ''Manga/{{Spiral}}'' manga plays with this and GratuitousEnglish, but only with characters who actually grew up in England, so it makes sense for them to speak English to each other. Eyes once calls Kanone "brother", using the Japanese kanji with furigana of the English pronunciation; and in the sequel ''Spiral Alive'', Kanone says "Are you ready?" in English print with furigana giving the pronunciation, but not translating the meaning.
* In ''Anime/SpiritedAway'', Yubaba changes Chihiro's name to "Sen" by taking its first kanji character (千) and changing its reading from the archaic ''kun'yomi'' "chi" to the common ''on'yomi'' "sen," thus emphasizing its numerical meaning of "thousand."
* Early in ''VideoGame/TalesOfHearts'', "kokoro" (heart) is identified once with furigana for "Spiria". Not to change the pronunciation of the kanji, as it's pronounced normally throughout the game otherwise, but to equate the two concepts. As a better example, the two planets (Serurando/Kuootia) and their races (Serureido/Kuooto) are written with the kanji for "simple world/people" and "crystal world/people".
* Played in the opposite way by Creator/OsamuTezuka's ReusedCharacterDesign. When his famous characters appeared in different works, he would often use names that were phoenetically identical to their previous incarnations, but using completely different kanji.
* ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex''
** Index and its spinoff series ''Manga/ACertainScientificRailgun'' have alternate readings in their titles themselves--kanji that would normally be read "kinshomokuroku" and "choudenjihou" are given the pronunciations "index" and "railgun," respectively. This applies to many of ''Index'''s episode titles as well; for example, one episode has "Witch-Hunting King" in kanji and "Innocentius" in katakana.
** Accelerator's name is written "一方通行" ("One-way Street") in the series. He gets this nickname because there's pretty much [[CurbStompBattle only one way a fight with him is going to end up]]. Accelerator himself even makes a pun out of it in one of his fights:
--->'''Accelerator''': Sorry, but from here on out it's a "one-way street"! You cannot advance, so just curl up and cower back in your nest!
** The idol Hajime Hitotsui's name in kanji is 一一一 (the surname is 一一 while the given name is 一).
* ''Manga/UruseiYatsura'': The monk 錯乱坊 insists his name be pronounced "Cherry", rather than "Sakuranbou" (the kanji literally read as "deranged monk", but is a homonym for cherry).
* In ''Manga/{{Working}}'', Souta's last name is pronounced Takanashi (which can mean "no hawks"), but is written with the kanji for "little birds playing" (小鳥遊).
* ''Manga/{{xxxHolic}}'': [[CloningBlues Watanuki]]'s name is based on an alternate reading of April 1. [[note]]The term "April 1" in Japanese referred to the first day of the fourth ''Chinese'' month, which would be in May in the Georgian calendar--perfect time to change to thinner clothing. Watanuki is literally 綿抜き--"pulling out cotton (filling from the coats)." Hence the reading.[[/note]]
* In ''Manga/HaouAiren'', Kurumi Akino is renamed as Qiuye Laishi, which is simply the Chinese reading of the ''kanjis'' that form her name.
* In ''Anime/SpaceBattleshipYamato2199'', Akira Yamamoto's given name can also be read "Rei." She says, "Call me Rei, everyone else does," when one character misreads it. Any [[ReiAyanamiExpy resemblance to the Evangelion character]] is of course entirely coincidental.
* In ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'', the narrator is known as Kyon, which is a nickname his aunt gave him. Apparently it's based on an obscure reading of his real name, [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname but we never get any detail on that]].
* In ''Anime/BlackRockShooter'', Mato reads Yomi's last name Takanashi (no hawks) as kotori-asobi (little birds playing) before Yomi corrects her.
* In ''LightNovel/IsThisAZombie'', Orito reads Yuki Yoshida's name as Tomonori. No matter how many times she corrects him, [[AccidentalMisnaming he continues to call her that]].
* Used to amusing effect in Creator/KatsuhiroOtomo's samurai manga ''Good Weather''. When a group of bandits run into a bum and his young son on the road, the bum mentions he used to work as a translator for the Kougi clan, causing the bandits to run off in terror thinking the man and his son are actually Manga/LoneWolfAndCub.[[note]]The Japanese word "kaishakunin" can mean either "interpreter" or "executioner", specifically a volunteer, usually a friend, who chops off a samurai's head after he commits {{seppuku}}, depending on what characters it's written with.[[/note]]
* In ''LightNovel/{{Haganai}}'', Sena's father was landed with the name "Pegasus" by his own parents, written using the characters for Heaven and Horse (天馬, usually pronounced Tenma).
* Ryuuko of ''LightNovel/GroundControlToPsychoelectricGirl'' had her name (somehow) mis-read as "Ryuushi". It stuck, much to her chagrin.
* In ''Anime/ValkyrieDriveMermaid'', the characters for Mamori's last name "Tokonome" can also be read as "Virgin". A lot of people make fun of her for that, while she desperately asserts that it is "Tokonome". The characters for her full name can be read as "Protect Virginity", which makes the teasing even worse.
* ''Franchise/JoJosBizarreAdventure'' uses this fairly often; for example, Killer Queen has an attack written as 負けて死ね, which means "Lose and Die", but the furigana for it is バイツァ・ダスト, pronounced "[[Music/{{Queen}} Bites the Dust]]". Then there's the [[Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventureDiamondIsUnbreakable two]] [[Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventureJoJolion Josukes]], whose first names can alternatively be read as [[FamilyThemeNaming "JoJo"]].
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' loves doing this with its SuperDeformed Musha (samurai-themed) sub-series, especially when they have exhausted all sorts of ateji in earlier series and still need kanji in the names to convey a JidaiGeki feel. One specific example is Lady Kawaguchi's Gunpla from ''Anime/GundamBuildFightersTry''. Its name is written as 紅武者アメイジング (Kurenai Musha Amazing), but the kanji have the furigana レッドウォーリア (Red Warrior), with the full English name being "Kurenai Musha" Red Warrior Amazing[[note]]The distinction being that it's a Musha version of the Red Warrior (Perfect Gundam III) from the old ''Plamo Kyoshiro'' series[[/note]]. Even its weapons work like this; it has wheel-shaped shields on its forearms named 炎輪甲 (''Enrinkou'', literally "Fire Wheel Armor"), with the furigana ホイールアーマー ("Wheel Armor").
* ''Manga/MyHeroAcademia'' features an inversion: a Class B student with a steel hardening Quirk has the name [[RepetitiveName Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu]], with each Kanji being fundamentally different [[note]]The characters in "鉄哲徹鐵" can be read as "Steel", "Clear", "Pierce" and archaic term for "[[DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment Steel]]" respectively[[/note]].

[[folder: Literature]]
* Furigana are used in the Japanese translation of ''Literature/HarryPotter'' in order to adapt the English puns, according to [[http://www.cjvlang.com/Hpotter/ this site]].
* Kamikishiro from ''[[LightNovel/BoogiepopSeries Boogiepop Doesn't Laugh]]'' likes to do this with people's names and calls Touka "Fuji."
* Japanese even approach ''Roman alphabets'' this way. In ''Literature/TanteiTeamKZJikenNote'', the first line of ''[[OpeningNarration Aya Tachibana's Monologue]]'' puts it clear: "Write it 'KZ', read it 'Kazu'."

[[folder: Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/DaiMajinKanon'' used this as part of its IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming so that, while every episode title had a different meaning, all were read as "Kanon."
* In ''Series/KaizokuSentaiGokaiger'', [[Series/EngineSentaiGoOnger Sosuke (Go-On Red)]] refers to [[SixthRanger Gai (Gokai Silver)]] as "Yoroi", which reveals the StealthPun behind his name[[note]]His first name means armor, and his surname "Ikari" means anchor; Gai's SuperMode is a suit of armor formed from an anchor-shaped TransformationTrinket[[/note]].
* In a rare '''English''' example, ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' features [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRoSwOXvD98 a sketch]] about a man whose name is spelled "Raymond Luxury Yacht" but pronounced "Throatwarbler Mangrove".


[[folder: Music]]
* Back in her Music/SakuraGakuin days, Moa Kikuchi's CatchPhrase was "Value love the most". This is a pun on her given name, since "Moa" is written with the kanji characters for "most" and "love". Following {{Music/Babymetal}}'s popularity, a brand of saké (Japanese rice wine) written with the same kanji but pronounced "Sai-ai" (the individual pronunciations of the kanji characters) [[TheRedStapler got a surge of demand]] from fans wanting to have the "Moa saké".

[[folder: Video Games]]
* Keine Kamishirasawa of the ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' series. Her name can also be read as "Uwa-hakutaku", which is a pun of "were-hakutaku", which she is one of.
** A common joke for [[AnimeChineseGirl Hong Meiling]] is to read her name in Japanese as Kurenai Misuzu. That's when she's lucky. Usually, she's just [[FanNickname China]].
*** "China" itself was originally proposed as a [[TakeAThirdOption third option]] in an internet debate over which reading was correct.
** Reisen Udongein Inaba has spell cards which enforce this. Her spell cards have both a Kanji spelling, and a Katakana pronunciation given after the Kanji. These result in entirely different phrases. For example, her first spell can be read as either "Mind Shaker" or "Lunatic Red Eyes". Strangely, when you go to Hard and Lunatic mode, only the former changes its name. So in Lunatic mode, the same spell is called "Mind Blowing" or "Lunatic Red Eyes".
** The series associates [[{{UsefulNotes/Onmyodo}} shikigami]] with computers. This tends to show up by having one term in kanji and the other in furigana. Sometimes related terms get the same treatment.
** Utsuho's nickname Okuu comes from the alternate reading of her first name (Kuu).
** Kaguya's name can be read as Teruyo, but it's mainly used in fanworks where Mokou is deliberately misreading her nemesis' name.
** Even the series' name is an example of this, as the kanji for "Touhou" can also be pronounced "Higashikata" -- as in [[Manga/JojosBizarreAdventureDiamondIsUnbreakable Josuke Higashikata]]. Needless to say, ZUN is a huge ''[=JoJo=]'' fan.
* The title of ''VideoGame/{{Salamander}}'' is written with ateji characters that can be interpreted as "sand gauze wide (or beautiful) snake." Likewise, the title for {{VideoGame/Contra}} is written the same way and can be interpreted as the less sensical "soul bucket net".
* This the reason protagonist Syouko of ''VisualNovel/AoiShiro'' calls Kaya "Natsu" (or "Natchan"). The first character for Kaya's name is the ''kanji'' for 'summer,' which when used on its own is pronounced Natsu. It's mentioned in passing that Syouko's grandmother did something similar with the ''kanji'' for spring in her name.
* [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] in VideoGame/SyukushoGakuen. [[spoiler: The BigBad is named Miku, which is an alternate reading for ''mirai'' (future). She's a [[TimeTravel time traveller.]]]]
* The Japanese title of the game ''VideoGame/CherryTreeHighComedyClub'' is "manken" (漫研), which is short for "manzai kenkyuubu" (漫才研究部, rough translation: "comedy research club"). From the shortened title alone, some Japanese readers may see the kanji and think that it's short for "manga kenkyuubu" (漫画研究部, "manga research club"). One of the jokes has one of the characters do just that - when the protagonist Mairu ([[DubNameChange Miley in the English version of the game]]) mentions that she's trying to start a club for comics, one of her friends assumes she's talking about [[{{Manga}} "sit-down" comics]] and not [[RecordedAndStandUpComedy "stand-up" comics]].
* The Japanese title of Creator/DataEast's ''Psycho-Nics Oscar'' is written with kanji characters that might ordinarily be read ''seishimpeiki'', but for furigana that gloss them as ''saikonikku''.
* Don Corneo's mansion in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' has several ateji spellings of his name plastered on the walls, which directly translates to "old remaining root house".
* The Famicom game ''Flying Hero'' writes the title's second word conventionally in katakana, but writes its first word as the kanji/rōmaji hybrid "飛ing."
* The ''Manga/MiracleGirls'' LicensedGame for the UsefulNotes/SuperFamicom has a subtitle in which for "Fushigi Sekai no Daibōken" has furigana indicating the GratuitousEnglish reading "Miracle World Adventure."
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Onmyoji}} Onmyōji]]'' has the little BirdPeople siblings. The younger sister's name is Dōjo, which is the ''on'yomi'' of its ''kanji'' writing 童女. Her older brother, on the other hand, has his ''kanji'' name 童男 read "Oguna" rather than its ''on'yomi'' "Dōdan" like one would expect.
** The [[BirdPeople part-bird]] [[ParasolOfPain umbrella-wielding]] ActionMom. Her name is 姑獲鳥, which should be read "Kokakuchō" but her in-game profile states that it's read [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubume "Ubume"]]. Becomes SpellMyNameWithAnS when even her [[Creator/ToaYukinari voice actress]] uses the former reading.
* In the Japanese version of ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D]]'', when Sheik is explaining the Boss Challenge mode to the player, she refers to the bosses as 強敵 ("powerful enemies") but pronounces it as "bosu" ("boss") rather than the usual "kyouteki".
* From ''VideoGame/EnsembleStars'', the first kanji in Tori's name can also be read as "momo", which is the basis for at least one of his nicknames. There's also an inversion with Yuuki Makoto, who occasionally makes puns about how he needs courage (''yuuki'' written with different kanji).

[[folder: Visual Novels]]
* Cases 2-1 and 3-5 in the ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' games used this as a plot device, the former because the criminal used the wrong kanji combination for the defendant's surname (defendant has a non-standard combo, criminal incorrectly assumed the standard one) and the latter because an eight-year old misinterpreted Kanji written instructions. These were changed to spelling problems in the English version.
** As part of {{Woolseyism}}, the localization team for ''VisualNovel/AceAttorneyInvestigationsMilesEdgeworth'', when translating the names of people from the fictional country of Zheng Fa, simply gave them Chinese versions of what their Japanese names translated to.
** In ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneySpiritOfJustice'', this was used in localization with Bucky Whet; the characters on his outfit were changed from his Japanese surname (打ち立て ''Uchitate'') to kanji that can be pronounced "Ueto", a pun on his last name. This itself has a double meaning, as they can also be interpreted as "[[DrowningMySorrows heavy drinker]]".
* In ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'', this is used in Archer's chant for Unlimited Blade Works, resulting in two reasonably different speeches depending on whether one translates the kanji literally or using the furigana. For instance, translating the first line using the former results in 'My body is made out of swords', while using the latter gives us the famous 'I am the bone of my sword'.
* In ''VisualNovel/TokimekiMemorial Girl's Side 2'', Mizushima Hisoka's given name is written with the character for "secret" (himitsu). Having the player character call her "Himitsu-chan" gets a displeased reaction.
* In ''VisualNovel/YoJinBo'', Bo's nickname is based on an alternate reading of his proper name, Tainojo. He says in his introduction that the alternate reading annoys him, but never has any trouble with anyone else calling him "Bo", and in fact in a later conversation with him, he even tells you it's okay to continue calling him such.
* In ''VisualNovel/HatofulBoyfriend'', Tohri Nishikikouji gets very annoyed with the heroine constantly forgetting and calling him Toshiki Watashouji.
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'': Used to horrifying effect; the town's annual Watanagashi Festival (translated normally as "Cotton Drifting") has an alternate reading; "Wata" (Cotton) also means [[spoiler:"Entrails". Yes, someone in the story has noticed this. And yes, we get to see the bloody results.]]
* All of the Ushiromiya family's given names in ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'' (not counting the spouses) have Western names written in Kanji. There are two variations on this. The first is picking meaningful kanji and then using its direct translation as its spoken form. An example of that would be "戦人" which becomes Battler (Batorā) rather than a Japanese reading such as Sento, which is lampshaded in the [[LongestPrologueEver airport scene]] in the sound novel for EP 1. The second variation would be picking a desired Western name, and then finding whatever suitable kanji that fits the pronunciation; an example would be Jessica.
* In ''VisualNovel/AkatsukiNoGoei'' Kaito calls Tominori "Son" because Tominori could be read as Songoku instead, which is how Kaito misread it before he educated himself. The name has stuck.

[[folder: Miscellaneous]]
* One of the logic puzzles published by Nikoli (the same company that popularized Sudoku) is known as ''Masyu'' ("evil influence"). This originated from a misreading of the characters 真珠 (''shinju'', "pearls"), referring to what the circular symbols in the grid resemble.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Courtesy of a major Japanese life insurer, the second most popular boy's name in 2014, as written, was 大翔. However, they also noted different parents gave the same name different pronunciations, including Hiroto, Haruto, Yamato, Taiga (Tiger)[[note]]This is a WorldCup2010 reference.[[/note]], Sora[[note]]"Sky." The kanji means "great flight"--note the creativity Japanese apply in this.[[/note]], Taito, Daito, and Masato. [[http://www.meijiyasuda.co.jp/enjoy/ranking/read_best10/index.html See here]].
** Also because of this trope, the [[http://www.meijiyasuda.co.jp/enjoy/ranking/ entire survey results]] has to be broken into "top names as written" and "top names as pronounced," and further broken down into "top names as written--how are they pronounced" and "top names as pronounced--how are they written"...
** In fact, some kanji have multiple on'yomi (Chinese-borrowed) pronunciations, since the same character was borrowed from Chinese multiple times, hundreds of years apart. While this is a headache for anybody learning Japanese, it's extremely helpful for scholars of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Chinese Middle Chinese]], since a lot of its pronunciations are preserved in modern Japanese. [[Literature/JurassicPark Like a mosquito in amber, with dinosaur DNA inside its stomach]].
* There are a few characters that have multiple readings in Chinese itself. One example is 行, which has at least three different Mandarin pronunciations (xing2, hang2, xing4) depending on its meaning, at least four in Cantonese (hang4, haang4, hong4, hang6). It is rare for these alternate pronunciations to be used for wordplays, however, and Chinese wordplays are more on the side of FunWithHomophones.
* Ancient Babylonian (along with its sister languages) had the same issue, since the Babylonians adopted Sumerian characters that could be given either a Sumerian pronunciation or a native Babylonian one.
* Creator/AkiToyosaki has a fairly unusual way to spell her first name (愛生), so she sometimes calls herself "Ainama" which are two of the most common readings of those two kanji.