22 Japanese Baby Names
If you're looking for a Japanese name for your new baby, this list has you covered!
Japanese baby names give parents the flexibility of short or long words. Meanings can be pragmatic or profound. For an aesthetic element, they can also be written in various forms of Japanese writing, like kanji or hiragana. In the United States, Japanese baby names hold a sense of relative uniqueness. "Names have consequences," says David Figlio, the director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University in suburban Chicago, who has conducted extensive research on names. Above all, he notes, parents should give their kids names they love and that resonate personally.
Christopher Reed, a professor of history and philosophy at Roosevelt University in Chicago, says parents who give their kids heavily ethnic names often desire to connect kids with their roots and instill curiosity and pride about their familial past. The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles carries a book of names in its store to help out new parents in their naming quest, according to Leslie Unger, director of marketing and communications there.
Here are 22 names you might want to add to your brainstorming list:
Japanese Baby Names for Girls
- Aiko (ah-EEK-oh)
Aiko means "love child," "beloved child" or "child who will be loved." A famous Aiko is Princess Aiko, the heir to the throne of Japan, who is the daughter of Naruhito and Masako, Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan.
- Etsu (et-SOO)
Etsu's meaning is "delight."
- Hana (HAN-uh)
This name, with origins in Korea and Albania, means "flower."
- Hikari (he-KAR-ee)
This name translates as "light." Hikari Ishida is a well-known actress in Japan who's also released several singles and albums.
- Haruka (ha-ROO-ka)
If you have aspirations of travel or exploration for your little one, you may want to consider Haruka, which means "far off" or "distant."
- Hotaru (ho-tar-OO)
If your baby is your little spark, you may want to consider Hotaru , which means "firefly."
- Kaiya (KY-uh)
This name, which can also be spelled "Kayah" and also has origins in Hindi, translates to "forgiveness."
- Kaminari (Ka-ME-nar-EE)
If you think your baby girl will have a strong personality (or a loud cry), consider this strong name meaning "thunder."
- Makoto (ma-KO-ta)
This unisex name, which is commonly used for boys as well as girls, means "sincerity."
- Natsuko (nat-SU-ko)
The baby's due date may play a factor in choosing this name that means "summer child."
- Satomi (sa-TOE-me)
If you value community, consider Satomi, which hearkens from the word for "village" or "wise and beautiful."
Japanese Baby Names for Boys
- Daisuke (die-SOO-kee)
This name means "large" or "great." A well-known Daisuke is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who played for teams like the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets. He's also known by his nickname "Dice-K."
- Haru (ha-ROO)
You may want to consider your due date, as this name means "born in the spring." It can also mean "sun," "sunlight" or "to clear up."
- Hayato (hi-YAH-toe)
To draw inspiration from a majestic bird, try this name meaning "falcon" or "falcon men."
- Jiro (jee-ROW)
Birth order might count for something here, as Jiro means "second son." A well-known person with the name is Jiro Ono, owner of Sukibayashi Jiro, a sushi restaurant that consistently nabs three Michelin stars. "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" is a documentary made four years ago about the chef and his meticulous style.
- Kenji (ken-GEE)
Birth order might also count with this name, as Kenji means "intelligent second son," as well as "strong and vigorous."
- Kenshin (KEN-shin)
Kenshin means a combination of "modest" and "truth."
- Ryouichi (ryoo-ITCH-ee)
Ryouichi means "good" or "clear one."
- Ryuu (RYOO)
If you want to reach toward the mythic, consider Ryuu, which means "dragon."
- Susumu (su-SOO-moo)
This name means "advance" or "proceed."
- Takahiro (taka-HER-oh)
This name translates to "valuable" or "noble," as well as "prosperous." Takahiro can also be a reference to family loyalty or "filial piety."
- Yamato (ya-MAH-toe)
This name combines "large" or "great" with "harmony." The Yamato period encompasses a key part of Japanese history, when the imperial court ruled from what was then known as Yamato Province.
Erin Chan Ding is a freelance journalist based in Chicago who writes frequently about parenting. She is Asian American, specifically, Chinese American, but her parents named her "Erin," a name meaning "Ireland" or "from Ireland," simply because they loved the name.
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