N00bs and Newbies,listen up.If you're confused with the several "-chan"'s in the anime section,please read this.
Correct use of titles is considered very important in Japan, as it is just about everywhere else in the world. Omitting a title when addressing or referring to someone is called yobisute (呼び捨て, yobisute?). Although yobisute is generally considered bad manners, in Japanese conversations, many non-Japanese (particularly in Japan) experience yobisute when a Japanese person would probably be addressed more politely.
Although titles are usually added to names, there are some exceptions. They are not usually used when talking about a family member or another member of one's "in-group" to someone from outside the group. Inside a group such as a company, the members use titles such as san towards each other. However, when talking to people from outside their company, they do not use the titles when referring to each other. This applies even to superiors. For example, a receptionist, when talking to the company president, will certainly use a title such as shachō or Maeda-shachō; however, when referring to the president when talking to outsiders, the same receptionist will simply refer to President Maeda as Maeda, without any title. Honorific titles are also usually dropped when referring to historical figures, although awarded titles, such as military titles, are sometimes used.
San (さん, San?) is the most common honorific and is used when addressing persons outside one's immediate family and close circle of friends—non-family members and acquaintances, for example. San is used unless the addressee's status or the relationship with the addressee warrants one of the other terms mentioned below. Although in translation san is usually rendered as a common courtesy title like “Mr.” or “Ms.”, unlike these it is never used in self-reference.
San may also be used in combination with nouns describing the addressee or referrant other than the person's name; for example, a bookseller might be addressed or referred to as honya-san ("bookseller" + san) and a butcher, as nikuya-san ("butcher" + san).
San is also used when talking about companies and other similar entities. For example, the offices or shop of a company called Kojima Denki might be referred to as "Kojima Denki-san" by another nearby company. This may be seen on the small maps often used in phone books and business cards in Japan, where the names of surrounding companies are written using san.
Although, strictly speaking, not an honorific title in this usage, san is also attached to the names of some kinds of foods; for example, fish used for cooking can be referred to as sakana-san. Likewise, this suffix is sometimes applied to animals—a rabbit might be usagi-san.[dubious — see talk page]
In western Japan (Kansai), particularly the the Kyoto area, Han (はん, Han?) is used instead of san.
Kun (君, Kun?) is an informal and intimate honorific primarily used towards males. (It is still used towards females, but rarely.) It is used by persons of senior status in addressing those of junior status, by males of roughly the same age and status when addressing each other, and by anyone in addressing male children. In business settings, women, particularly young women, may also be addressed as kun by older males of senior status. It is sometimes used towards male pets as well.
Schoolteachers typically address male students using kun, while female students are addressed as san or chan. The use of kun to address male children is similar to the use of san when addressing adults. In other words, not using kun would be considered rude in most situations, but, like the rule for using san in reference to family members, kun is traditionally not used when addressing or referring to one's own child (unless kun is part of a nickname: "Akira-kun"—Akkun).
In the Diet of Japan, diet members and ministers are called kun by the chairpersons. For example, Junichiro Koizumi is called "Koizumi Jun'ichirō-kun". The only exception was that when Takako Doi was the chairperson of the lower house, she used the san title.
Chan (ちゃん, Chan?) is a diminutive suffix used to refer to or address children, animals, lovers, intimate friends, and people whom one has known since childhood. It is an informal version of "san" used to address children and female family members. "Chan" continues to be used as a term of endearment, especially for girls, into adulthood. Parents will probably always call their daughters "chan" and their sons "kun," though "chan" can be used towards boys just as easily. Adults will use "chan" as a term of endearment to women with whom they are on close terms.
Chan is used more among women than men and requires considerable intimacy to be used with adults with whom one has not known for an extended period of time or since their childhood. Furthermore, attaching chan to a modified stem is more intimate than attaching it to the full form of the basic name.
Chan may also be used for celebrities as a title of affection. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger gained the nickname Shuwa chan in Japanese. Although traditionally honorifics are not applied to oneself, some young women occasionally develop the habit of referring to themselves in the third person using chan. For example, a young woman named Maki might call herself Maki-chan rather than using a first person pronoun. Chan is also used for pets' names and when referring to animals, such as usagi-chan (or, more frequently, usa-chan: rabbit+chan) (e.g. Tama-chan, the flying turtle in Love Hina and Hunny's stuffed bunny in "Ouran High School Host Club"), or when speaking to small children.
If the speaker were to use this suffix to a person his/her age then he/she would have to realize that the ~chan suffix is a casual suffix and is mainly used only for girls, if they are the same age or only a little bit younger than the speaker. If a boy was to call another boy his name and add -chan onto the other boy's name, then it could be deemed as an insult, if the other boy didn't agree on that name, unless it was said as a joke, or under other circumstances.[original research?]
The Japanese media use chan when mentioning pre-elementary school children and sometimes elementary-school girls.
Chan and Moé anthropomorphism
Non-standard variations of chan include chin (ちん, chin?) and tan (たん, tan?). Chin and tan are mispronunciations typical of small children and therefore remind of baby or child talk, hence their association with cuteness. They, but particularly tan, are thus popular in the names of moé anthropomorphisms, artistic memes on Japanese imageboards typified by a female character, usually depicted in cosplay, representing a non-human being, inanimate object, concept, or phenomena, or a popular consumer product. Well-known examples include OS-tan (representing computer operating systems) and Bisuke-tan (representing KFC biscuits). Some of these characters, such as Binchō-tan, are real corporate mascots.
Senpai and kōhai
Senpai (先輩, Senpai?) is used by students to refer to or address senior students in an academic or other learning environment, in athletics and sports clubs, and also in business settings to refer to those in more senior positions. Kōhai (後輩, Kōhai?) is the reverse of this. It is used to refer to or address juniors, though it might be considered somewhat insulting or overly condescending in some circles to refer to someone as kōhai directly--kun is frequently used toward kōhai in direct address.
Sensei (先生, Sensei?) is used to refer to or address teachers, practitioners of a profession such as doctors and lawyers, politicians, and other authority figures. It is used to show respect to someone who has achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill. For example, Japanese manga fans refer to manga artists using the term sensei, as in Takahashi-sensei for manga artist Rumiko Takahashi; the term is used similarly by fans of other creative professionals such as novelists, musicians, and artists. It is also a common martial arts title when referring to the instructor.
Sensei can also be used fawningly, as evinced by adherents in addressing or talking about charismatic business, political, and religious leaders (especially unordained ones). Japanese speakers will also use the term sarcastically to ridicule overblown or fawning adulation of such leaders, and the Japanese media frequently invoke it (rendered in katakana, akin to scare quotes or italics in English) to highlight the megalomania of those who allow themselves to be sycophantically addressed with the term. A further, similar use is to address or refer to someone who acts in a self-important or self-aggrandizing manner.
-Sensei is unusual among the suffixes discussed here in that it can be used not only as a suffix, but a term in itself, translating to "Professor" or "Teacher".
Sama (様, Sama?) is the formal version of san. This honorific is used primarily in addressing persons much higher in rank than oneself and in commercial and business settings to address and refer to customers. It also appears in words used to address or speak of persons or objects for which the speaker wishes to show respect or deference, such as okyaku-sama (customer) or Tateishi-sama (a stone revered as a deity). Additionally, Japanese Christians will refer to God in prayer as Kami-sama. People will also affix sama to the names of personages who have a special talent or are considered particularly attractive, though this usage can also be tongue-in-cheek, exaggerated, or even ironic. Examples include "Tanaka-sama" to refer to a young man named Tanaka who is considered rather handsome by his admirers and the "Leo-Sama" (or "Reo-sama") that has become the media's pet name for Leonardo DiCaprio. Further, sama can be used to express arrogance (or self-effacing irony), such as in the arrogant male pronoun ore-sama ("my esteemed self") for "I". Referring to oneself with -sama is considered to be highly egotistical.
Sama also follows the addressee's name on postal packages and letters and is frequently seen in business e-mails.
It is worth noting that the sama appearing in such set phrases as o-machidō sama ("sorry to keep you waiting"), o-tsukare sama (an expression of empathy for people who have been working long and hard), and go-kuro sama (an expression recognizing someone's labors), though written with the same kanji, is etymologically and semantically distinct from the sama used as term of address.
In the same way that chan is a version of san, there is also chama from sama, typically used for an older person.
Shi (氏, Shi?) is used in formal writing, and sometimes in very formal speech, for referring to a person who is unfamiliar to the speaker, typically a person known through publications whom the speaker has never actually met. For example, the shi title is common in the speech of newsreaders. It is preferred in legal documents, academic journals, and certain other formal written styles. Once a person's name has been used with shi, the person can be referred to with shi alone, without the name, as long as there is only one person being referred to.
I hope this helps.=3