Without Japanese roots, you may not get the idea so quickly. But Japanese names can sound incredibly beautiful and almost melodic.
Japan is a country full of beauty and wonders, not to mention its fascinating history. And the names in Japanese! Unlike many modern countries, Japanese parents have stayed within the tradition when choosing the name for their children.
Origins of Japanese names for babies
Japanese parents have many things to consider when choosing a name for their child, not only does it have to sound good, but when it is written in kanji characters, the basic meaning of the name becomes easily visible.
During the time of feudal society in Japan, first names represented a person’s social status. During these times, Japanese names were fluid and often changed with a person’s status and affiliations. In the 1870s, with the creation of the family registration system and a formalized naming system, the Japanese naming tradition we know today was created, consisting of a surname and a first name.
In Japan, the surname actually predates the first name and people are often referred to by their last name rather than by their first name, or what we traditionally think of as their first name. First names are typical written in Chinese characters called kanji, which can drastically change the meaning and pronunciation of the name.
Birth order names used to be common in previous generations for children, but they are not typically used today. These types of Japanese names for children list certain terms as suffixes. Include:
- taro (first)
- jiro (second)
- saburo (third)
- shiro (fourth)
- goro (fifth)
So if a child’s name was Daijiro (Dai means Great), the name would be translated as Great Second Son. Japanese names for girls in past generations often had a suffix of -ko added to their name, which meant “boy.” This practice originated because women in the imperial family had names ending in -ko. Other common suffixes for girls’ names included -mi (beauty), -na (plant), and -ki (tree).
From Sakura (meaning “cherry blossoms”) to Ren (meaning “lotus”), the Japanese make sure their nicknames are all beautiful, auspicious, and deeply meaningful. This often catches the attention of parents around the world, many of whom like the fact that they are not necessarily gender-specific.
Japanese baby names often have wonderful meanings like love, kindness, a thousand butterflies, and brilliance. The name that parents give to children often contain beautiful qualities that they want to give to children. In this way you also get many names that mean honorable, honest and accurate for example.
I’ve picked out some of the many popular Japanese names for both men and women, where you can get inspired for your baby’s name. All names are still used today thanks to traditional Japanese culture.
It is important to note that in Japanese there are three writing systems, the kanji are the sinograms used in the writing of the Japanese language, along with the hiragana and katakana syllabaries.
Japanese names are usually written with kanji characters, which can often be read in a number of different ways. Also, as there are thousands of kanji to choose from, even the same name can be written using many different combinations of kanji (some have more than 50 combinations).
Japanese names for girls
On many occasions, Japanese parents give their girls nature-related names, such as Tsubaki, which is the Japanese camellia flower. Also, names as I said earlier, Japanese names often consist of two parts that merge into a single name, such as Yukiko (Yuki = Snow and Ko = Child).
-Misaki 美咲 – Misaki is currently one of the most popular names for girls in Japan. It first became popular in the 80s, and has been ranked as the No. 1 girl name in Japan for several years according to lists published among others by Japanese insurance companies as the Japanese government does not publish official statistics.
-Hisa (寿) – Hisa is a charming Japanese name, usually considered feminine, which is said to mean “eternal” or “long time”. Kanji can be written in different ways, and other associated meanings include “morning princess,” “sun flower,” or even “colorful light,” among other things. All these meanings are charming and would fit a girl very well. However, Hisa is not a very common name, so it can be a very original name for your baby.
) – This is a charming female name that most sources agree means “green”, which makes it an excellent choice for a daughter of parents who love that color! Midori is considered rooted in Judaism, so it can also appeal to parents who belong to that particular faith. One source states that Kanji for Midori can also mean halcyon, which is sure to be attractive on a different level. Even if none of those meanings are true, there is no denying that Midori is simply a beautiful name.
-Miyu (心結(心) – It is a nice girl’s name, although some say it can easily be a boy’s name too, it is often said to mean “a beautiful truth” or “heart”. Other variations of the Kanji have the meaning of “progress and dreams” or “hope of helping someone.” Miyu has found more popularity in Japan, becoming among the top 20 names on the list in recent years in Japan.
-Shinon (獅子音) – Shinon is a unique version of the popular Shannon of Irish roots. Shinon is not really related to Shannon, but they look and sound similar. Actually, Shinon is related to the Japanese name of the flower aster tataricus, and as a name, it means “memory”. Alternative methods of writing kanji can give Shinon other meanings, such as “sound of the tide,” “princess,” or “presiding over warmth.” No matter what meaning you prefer, Shinon is a beautiful name, perfect for any girl.
Other names of Japanese girls that you may like:
-Rin (凛) – It is the feminine derivation of the masculine name Ren, which is read as “rin”. This can mean cold, but also dignified and gallant.
-Sakura (桜) – It means “cherry blossom”, although you can also find it written with the hiragana writing system. It is said that it can also come from 咲 (saku) meaning “flower” and 良 (ra) meaning “good, virtuous, respectable” as well as other combinations of kanji.
-Hina (陽菜) – In Japanese 陽 (hi) means “light, sun, man” or 日 (hi) meaning “sun, day” combined with 菜 (na) meaning “vegetable, green”. This name is unisex, so it is usually used for both girls and boys.
-Yuna (結菜) – Yuna means in Japanese “the moon”, “the night”.
Japanese names for children:
-Raiden (雷神) – Mythological thunder god. Raiden is the typical English transcription of Raijin, the god of thunder and lightning in Japanese (Shinto) mythology. In Japanese, the name is composed of the characters 雷 and 神 meaning “thunder” and “god, supreme being”. In Western culture, the god is known as Raiden of “rai” (雷, thunder) + “den” (電, lightning).
-Khomei (女明) – Khomei is a typically masculine name that is often defined as “spreading light”, although some sources say that its meaning would be “spreading joy”. It is said that boys with this name love music and friendship. Khomei has Sikh origins that comes from Sikhism (religion created in India in the fifteenth century) but is still recognized as a distinctly Japanese name, so in Japanese heritage or Sikhism it is an attractive name, although it is far from common in that country.
-Hironori (浩典) – Most commonly used as a male name. Some definitions include “benevolent ruler,” “rich law,” “great decree,” or “broad virtue.” All of these meanings follow the same theme, more or less, one that surely any parent would expect from their child when they grew up. Hironori, however, remains a relatively uncommon name, perhaps best known for being shared by some well-known characters in Japan.
) – A commonly agreed meaning for the boy Tetsuya’s name is “philosopher”, often with descriptors such as “intelligent”. Other Kanji writing methods can make Tetsuya mean “iron arrow” or “rigor”. The name is of Shinto origin and is seen sporadically throughout Japan’s recent history, given to politicians, composers, musicians, and even a character from the animated television series Pokemon.
-Tarou (太郎) – Any parent expects their child to be big and healthy, and the name Tarou is an excellent embodiment of that desire. Tarou literally means “a big son” or “a big man,” according to one of the most common ways of writing Kanji. Other Kanji arrangements are equally positive, with meanings such as “gentle joy, “great tower”, or “thick cherry blossoms.” Tarou, of Shinto origin, is almost always a child’s name, and is different enough from other common child names like Taro and Taru to stand out from the crowd.
Other names for kids you might like:
-Ren 蓮 – Means sacred lotus. The feminine derivation of this name is 凛, which is read as “rin”. This can mean cold, but also dignified and gallant.
-Sho 翔 – The name Sho means “to take flight”, “to fly”.
-Hiroto 大翔 – The name Hiroto means Great, Great, Command, Esteem, Flight…
-Yuma 悠真 – The name Yuuma in Japanese means “Leisure”, “Truth”.
-Sora 蒼空 – From Japanese 空 (sora) or 昊 (sora), both mean “sky”. Other kanji with the same pronunciation can also form this name.
Take it easy, check all Japanese names for babies as this is a very important decision and should be well thought out by parents, so that the choice is the right one and they can find the perfect name. In case you still have doubts I leave you a link to our article about the popular names for boys and girls in 2019.
All the information we give you in this article is indicative as each child and each family is different and unique.
Carolina González Ramos
Edda Virtual Solutions
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