Japanese baby names: Top 20 most popular names for boys and girls

Japan has a unique naming system. In Japanese , pronunciation and the meaning of the kanji are the main considerations. Usually, one Japanese name can be written in different kanji. 

When naming their children, pronunciation and the meaning of the kanji are the main considerations. For example, the boy’s name “かいと”(Kaito) can be written as 海斗, 快斗,魁人 and so on.

Due to this unique feature of the Japanese naming system, many Japanese names sound the same but are expressed in different kanji.

Hence, Japanese baby names all depend on the parents’ intentions and what they hope for their child to become. 

In addition to that, most Japanese names are a combination of two kanji characters, which means you’ll likely get more combinations just from the possibility of matching one kanji with a different kanji.

Choosing a Japanese Name for Boys and Girls

Weird Japanese Names for Boys and Girls: Kira Kira

Top 10 Popular Japanese Names and Pronunciations for Boys

Top 10 Popular Japanese Names and Pronunciations for Girls

Choosing a Japanese Name for Boys and Girls

top 10 most popular Japanese names for boys and girls

Generally, families will opt for names for their newborns that carry positive meanings: beauty, intelligence, strength and virtue. Other times, the kanji might have vague, basic meanings, like 月 (moon or month).

Either way, if you have upper-level Japanese skills, you’ll probably recognize the meaning of these Japanese baby names just by hearing the word or looking at the kanji. 

Like Western names, Japanese baby name trends come and go. For example, during winter, parents can name their baby girl “yuki”, which can be written both 雪 (yuki) or 優希 (yuuki). 

You might want to choose a Japanese name for different reasons. Maybe it’s because of the characters’ meanings, or family heritage.

Either way, we hope this list inspires you to raise a wise, strong and happy child.

Weird Japanese Names for Boys and Girls: Kira Kira

top 10 most popular japanese names for boys and girls - pronunciations

Recently, to make their child stand out from the crowd, some young parents name their child with rarely used kanji or unusual pronunciations which convey other meanings.

For example,  皇帝 (しいざあ, or shiizaa) sounds like the English word “Caesar”. Moreover, the Kanji word “皇帝” means emperor. Such names are called “kira kira names” “(キラキラネーム)”. Kira kira names are bizarre-sounding Japanese names that are completely different from traditional names.

So why would parents choose to name their kids with unconventional pronunciation?

We have to think about the incredible popular culture of Japanese anime, manga and movies. Similar to the TV shows in America, the Japanese subculture has influenced Japanese parents. Most of the time, the kanji of characters’ names are used as a phonetic symbol instead of for the meaning

The second reason would be the opening of Japanese culture to Western influences and the introduction of foreign names. Among the perfect example to underline this tendency, you will find “Makkusu” for Max (真九州) and “Mashyuu”, an equivalent of Matthew (馬周).

The Japanese parents believe that such names would, later on, have a positive influence on their children’s career.

boys japanese names ren


The word 連 is usually red as Ren (れん), which is the onyomi version of the kanji character. The character translates directly to “lotus”, but it can also mean “persistence”.

boys name japanese minato


This Japanese word for this kanji is read as “Minato”, which is another popular first name for boys in Japan. The character means “harbor”, but just like its literal translation, parents give their son this name hoping that they can “unite people together”

boys name japanese

3. 大翔

This name, which means “big heart”, can be pronounced in five different ways: そら(Sora), おうが (Ouga), たいが (Taiga), たいし (Taishi) and ひろと (Hiroto).

boys name japanese daito

4. 大和

This Japanese baby name consists of two characters: 大, which means big, and 和, which means harmony, peace or soft. The combination can be pronounced as だいと (Daito), だいや (Daiya), なごみ (Nagomi), ひろと (Hiroto) and やまと (Yamato).  

boys name japanese meaning

5. 陽翔

This name means “shine like the sun and fly high”. Variations of how to pronounce this Japanese name are: あきと (Akito), はると (Haruto), はるひ (Haruhi), ひかる (Hikaru) and ひなた (Hinata).

boys japanese names  meaning pronounciation

6. 悠真

Grow healthy and positively:(ゆま Yuma)、(はるま Haruma)、(ゆうま Yuuma)、(ゆうしん Yuushin)

japanese baby names nature

7. 樹

Meaning: Full-filled with vitality.
Variation: みき (Miki), いつき (Itsuki), いずき (Izuki) ,たつき (Tatsuki)

japanese baby name for boys

8. 陽太

Meaning: Bring hope to the others like the Sun
Variation: ようた (Youta), はるた (Haruta), はると (Haruto), ひなた (Hinata)

japanese baby boy name asahi

9. 朝陽

The kanji 朝 (あさ) means morning, while the kanji 陽 (ひ) translates to “sunshine” or “daytime”. Together, they mean morning sun.

male names in japanese

10. 悠人

Meaning: A calm person
Variation: ゆうと (Yuuto), はると (Haruto), ひさと (Hisato), はるひと (Haruhito)

Top 10 Popular Japanese Names and Pronunciations for Girls

1. 結月

Meaning: Bring good fortune
Variation: ゆず (Yuzu) 、(ゆいる Yuiru)、(ゆずき Yuzuki)、(ゆつき Yutsuki)、(ゆづき Yuzuki)

2. 結愛

Meaning: Foster good loveship
Variation: ゆあ (Yua)、(ゆい Yui)、(ゆな Yuna)、(ゆの Yuno)、(ゆめ Yume)

3. 結菜

Meaning: Achieve  great  results
Variation:(ゆな Yuna)、(ゆいな Yuina)、(ゆうな Yuuna)


Maning: Helpful
Variation: (あん An)、(こう Kou)、(もも Momo)、(あんず Anzu)、(あんな Anna)

5. さくら

Meaning: Beautiful like the cherry blossom
Variation: さくら Sakura


Meaning: Be tightened, motivated
Variation: りん (Rin)

7. 芽依

Meaning: Beloved
Variation: めい (Mei)


Meaning: Honest, respectful
Variation: (あお Ao)、(めい Mei)、(あおい Aoi)、(ひまり Himari ) 


Meaning: Gorgeous
Pronounciation: つむぎ (Tsumugi)

10. 莉子

Meaning: Cuteness
Pronunciation: りこ (Riko)

What does "Hinata" mean?

“Hinata” means bright sun.

What are "Kira-kira" names?

They are Japanese names with weird pronunciation and very often surprising or confusing kanji characters, often time inspired by famous celebrities or brands.

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