Wednesday, August 14, 2013

World-Wide Wednesday: Japanese Names

Inochi (Life)

Once a month, I will venture into international waters and find "exotic" and "foreign" names that are common in that particular native land.  For this first installment of "World-Wide Wednesday" where I find interesting name choices from around the world, I thought I'd focus on Japanese names.

Authentic Japanese names can be so wonderful! Its a shame that some Japanese immigrants to the US feel the need to "Americanize" their name, or choose a boring, English name like Jerry or Lee.  However, there are many that keep the name their parents gave them.

I read that it is traditional to have a big celebratory feast for the infant on its "Oshichiya" or its seventh day of life. They hang on the wall a very special "Shodo," or name plaque, that has the child's name inscribed in Japanese characters on very special paper.

Clearly, they take baby-naming very seriously! How many of us even had a celebratory feast when we were born, or when our children were born?

Meaning in names is very important. The Japanese use kanji characters that will mean things like "to soar," "great," and "big" for boys; and girls will receive characters meaning "beauty," "love," and "flower" among others.

In the past, it was very common and traditional for girls to have the kanji character "ko" meaning "a child" on the end of their names. Some of Japan's recent female royals were named Michiko, Kiko and Masako. However, this naming trend is almost completely gone now.

Many baby girls are receiving names that end with "ka" or "na" now instead of "ko".  Names like Haruka, Hina, Honoka, Ayaka, Yuuna, Momoka and Haruna. Western-sounding names have been trendy too, as well as shorter names like Hina, Yui and Miyu.

Another trend for girl names is to use Hiragana characters instead of kanji because it is softer and offers popular names like Sakura, Kokoro, Hikari and Hinata. There is a greater naming diversity in Japan today.

For boys, many of them receive endings like -to, -ki, and -ta. Popular names include Haruto, Yuuki, Souta, Kaito and Haruki.

Japanese names can be so diverse because you could ultimately choose from thousands of kanji characters and mix and match them to create a name.

Here are the 50 most popular Japanese boy's names in 2012:

1. Haruto
2. Yuto
3. Sota
4. Yuki
5. Hayato
6. Haruki
7. Ryusei
8. Koki
9. Sora
10. Sosuke, Riku
12. Soma
13. Ryota, Rui
14. Kaito, Haru
17. Kota, Yusei
19. Yuito
20. Yuma, Ren
22. Takumi, Minato
24. Eita, Shota
26. Daiki, Hiroto
28. Kosei, Takeru, Hinata
31. Toma, Manato, Ryuki, Rikuto
35. Aoto, Ibuki, Tatsuki, Haruma, Yamato, Ryuto
41. Taisei, Yuta
43. Itsuki, Soshi, Taiga
46. Kosuke, Shoma, Yushin, Ryuga, Ryo, Rento


And these are the 50 most popular Japanese girl's names in 2012:

1. Yui
2. Rio
3. Yuna
4. Hina
5. Koharu, Hinata
7. Mei
8. Mio
9. Saki
10. Miyu
11. Kokona
12. Haruka
13. Rin
14. Akari, Yuna
16. Honoka, Momoka
18. Aoi, Ichika, Sakura
21. Himari, Yume
23. Airi, Sara, Nanami
26. Ayaka, Yuka
28. Riko
29. Noa, Mao, Yua
32. Ayane, Hiyori, Misaki, Yuzuki, Rina
37. Sana, Ria, Ruka
40. Kanon, Kaho, Hana
43. Karin, Risa
45. Shiori, Fuka, Rino
48. Anna, Natsuki, Nana, Reina

Click here for a longer list of names that are popular in Japan for both genders.

Whether you have any Japanese blood or not, which of these names do you like best?

Note: If I have gotten any information wrong, please let me  know. I did some research, but I'm not Japanese, nor have I ever been to Japan. No offense intended. Just naming fascination! Thank you.

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