Continuing my English tips on romanization, my next topic is hyphenation.
A hyphen is used to indicate a connection between two different units of meaning. At the same time, it also helps to indicate proper pronunciation and understanding.
However, the rules of hyphenation are not clear cut, especially when romanizing Japanese words. There is a gray area and some exceptions 例外. We often debate over whether we should use a hyphen or not.
To make it easier to decide whether to use a hyphen or not, I present some examples here.
A. Definitely use hyphens:
For personal honorifics: Tanaka-san 田中さん
For municipalities: Shiga-ken, Otsu-shi 大津市, Gamo-gun 蒲生郡, Taga-cho 多賀町, Kutsuki-mura 朽木村, Sakyo-ku 左京区
For direction + place name: Higashi-Omi 東近江, Nishi-Shinjuku
For provincial name + place name: Omi-Hachiman 近江八幡, Omi-Imazu 近江今津
For street names: Chuo-dori, Shijo-dori 四条通り
For 新 + place name: Shin-Osaka 新大阪
For mountain names: Fuji-san 富士山, Ibuki-yama 伊吹山, Hakodate-yama
For kami names: Izumo-no-Kuni, Izanami-no-Mikoto
For train lines: Tokaido-sen 東海道線 (Tokaido Line), but shinkansen is OK.
For castle names: Hikone-jo (but we usually say Hikone Castle)
B. Hyphen unnecessary (maybe)
For most temple names: Enryakuji (not Enryaku-ji), Miidera, Kinkakuji, Horyuji, Ukimido, Sanjusangendo
For shrine names: Taga Taisha (not Taga-Taisha), Omi Jingu (not Omi-Jingu)
For festival names: Gion Matsuri (not Gion-matsuri), (but Hanamatsuri is OK, and )
For park names: Kibogaoka Koen (not Kibogaoka-Koen) 希望ヶ丘公園
For most river names: Setagawa (not Seta-gawa) 瀬田川, Anegawa 姉川
For most gate names: Sakuradamon, Sanmon
C. Hyphen case-by-case
Ishiyama-dera is better than Ishiyamadera
Kabuki-za, Minami-za, Gion Kobu Kaburenjo
Genkyuen or Genkyu-en 玄宮園 (hard to say which is better)
So how do you romanize a name like 純一郎?
Is it Junichiro, Jun-ichiro, or Jun’ichiro?
The problem with “Junichiro” is that it might be pronounced as じゅにちろう instead of じゅんいちろう。 So some people might use a hyphen such as “Jun-ichiro.” However, this is actually not proper usage of a hyphen because Jun and ichiro are not really separate units. So the correct answer is Jun’ichiro which uses an apostrophe to aid correct pronunciation.