Japanese follows very different rules from English when it comes to pronouncing words. My Japanese accent is by no means perfect, but I’ve learned some basic rules for pronunciation. I thought I’d make a short guide for Legacy readers, so you might ‘hear’ the words in your head as we heard them when we wrote them. –Nezu


ANBU is pronounced ahn-boo. It’s a direct romanization of the Japanese characters an 暗 and bu 部. ANBU (暗部) can be read literally as “Dark Division”—i.e. Black Ops. It’s short for Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai (暗殺戦術特殊部隊), which translates to “Special Assassination and Tactical Division”.

General Guidelines for Pronouncing Japanese Words
Common Words and Names in ANBU Legacy
Japanese Syllabary

General Guidelines for Pronouncing Japanese Words

Stress, Emphasis, and Vanishing Vowels

Japanese almost always places the emphasis on the first syllable of a word, or on no syllable at all.

green checkRightgreen check red-x11Wrongred-x11
Naruto (NAH-roo-toh) Naruto (nah-ROO-doe)

There is a special case for the syllables su, zu, and tsu when they appear in the middle of a word — the vowel almost isn’t pronounced at all.

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Sasuke (SA-s’keh) Sasuke (sah-SUE-kay)
Uzumaki (OOZE-mah-kee) Uzumaki (oo-zoo-MAH-kee)

Except when it falls at the beginning of a word, shi usually gets a very short pronunciation, almost more like sh’ However this can vary depending on where the word falls in a sentence and what region of Japan the speaker is from. If you listen to the anime, you will hear Kakashi’s name pronounced both Kakash’ and Kakashi.


Japanese has five basic vowel sounds. (Examples are based on American English pronunciation.)

vowel sound rhymes with example from ANBU Legacy
a ah mock Hatake
i ee see Minato
u oo true Uzumaki
e eh sled Genma
o oh snow Naruto

Long Vowels

One thing that Japanese has that English (mostly) lacks is long vowels. Japanese long vowels have the exact same pronunciation as their short counterparts, but they are held out longer. Some, like the long o sound, usually written as “ou”, are very common. Anytime you see a doubled vowel or an “ou” in a Japanese word in Legacy, it represents a long vowel.

vowel sound rhymes with example from ANBU Legacy
aa ahhh fall
ii eeee see
uu oooo moon Yuuhi
ee ehhh sled
ou ohhh snow Tousaki Ryouma

Combined Vowels

When two vowels appear together, you pronounce both of them so they blend together.

Ueno oo-eh-no —> ooweh-no
Raidou rah-ee-doe-oo —> rye-dough

Common Words and Names in ANBU Legacy

Here are some common names and words from ANBU Legacy with their phonetic pronunciations. Stressed syllables are bolded. If there are words or names you’d like to see added to the pronunciation guide, just drop us a note and let us know! anbulegacywriters@gmail.com

Namiashi Raidou Nah-me-ahsh’ Rye-dough
Shiranui Genma She-rah-noo-ee Ghehn-mah
Hatake Kakashi Hah-tah-keh Kah-kahsh’
Tousaki Ryouma Tohhh-sah-kee R’yohh-mah
Ueno Katsuko Ooweh-no Kahts’-koh
Namikaze Minato Nah-me-kah-zeh Me-nah-toh
Uzumaki Naruto Ooze-mah-kee Nah-roo-toh
Sagara Okiku Sah-gah-rah Oh-kee-koo
Kuroda Ushio Koo-roh-dah Oosh’yoh
Shibata Tomohiro Shi-bah-tah Toh-moh-he-roh
Shibata Hakone Shi-bah-tah Hah-koh-neh
Usagi Oo-sah-ghee
Sakamoto Ginta Sah-kah-moh-toh Gheen-tah
Yuuhi Kurenai Yoooo-he Koo-reh-naee (rhymes with night)
Nohara Rin Noh-hah-rah Reen
Sarutobi Asuma Sah-roo-toh-bee Ah-soo-mah
Fukuda Foo-koo-dah
Ayane Ah-yah-neh
ANBU ahn-boo
jounin johhh-neen
chuunin choo-neen
genin geh-neen
shinobi sh’-noh-bee
ninja neen-jah
Tsurugahama Tsoo-roo-gah-hah-mah
tanuki tah-noo-kee
 hitai-ate  hee-tie-ah-teh (‘tie’ as in tie a bow)

Here is a useful reference for name pronunciation: https://www.nameshouts.com

Japanese Syllabary

It’s easier to understand some of the pronunciation rules if you know that Japanese phonetic writing is based on syllables rather than individual letters. Every consonant sound has a vowel attached to it, except for ‘n’ which can stand on its own. The syllables are listed below, in the order they appear “alphabetically” in Japanese, with hiragana, romanization, and pronunciation. You’ll notice that there are a few gaps, for characters that aren’t used in Japanese, and there are three characters that seem to break the rhythm: the syllable “ti” is pronounced and usually westernized “chi”, “Tu” is “tsu”, and “hu” is “fu”.

a ah i ee u oo e eh o oh
ka kah ki kee ku koo ke keh ko koh
sa sah shi shee su soo se seh so soh
ta tah chi chee tsu tsoo te teh to toh
na nah ni nee nu noo ne neh no noh
ha ha hi hee fu foo he heh ho hoh
ma mah mi mee mu moo me meh mo moh
ya yah yu yoo yo yoh
ra rah ri ree ru roo re reh ro roh
wa wah wo woh
n n

Some syllables are made “soft” or “sharp” with diacritical marks.

ga gah gi ghee gu goo ge gheh go koh
za zah ji jee zu zoo ze zeh zo zoh
da dah de deh do doh
ba bah bi bee bu boo be beh bo boh
pa pah pi pee pu poo pe peh po poh