The Japanese Trend of “Kira Kira” Names
Lately, trending Japanese baby names are shifting towards a new unknown level of weirdness. Ever heard of “Kira Kira” names? Literally meaning “sparkly” or “shiny”, those are bizarre names sounding completely different from Japanese traditional ones.
Everyone understands that naming a child reflects the parents’ love and the desire to make their child unique. But sometimes, too much is maybe too much. Not far from what is happening in other societies, Japanese parents are attracted to new and original names. The “Kira Kira” names are a phenomenon frequently buzzing with articles wondering about the future integration of those children. Indeed, in the Japanese society, for which the saying “the stake that sticks out gets hammered down” is an essential rule, it is better to conform than to stick out.
“Deru kui wa utareru”
“It is better to conform than to stick out.”
What exactly are the “Kira Kira” Names (キラキラネーム)?
First of all, kira kira names have an unusual pronunciation and very often surprising or confusing, such as the name “Naiki” which sounds like the famous shoe brand Nike. Another example would be the bizarre girl’s name “Purin”, meaning princess and bracing, who sounds exactly like pudding in Japanese. Kanji is another criteria to enter the infamous band of “Kira Kira” names. They should have double meanings or be hard to read. Ideograms are already a challenge having so many different readings. Add an unusual or incomprehensible combination and you would lose more than one teacher at the school.
The legislation regarding names exists and dictates to use “easy and commonly used Kanji”. Those are limited to “daily used” Joyo Kanji (常用漢字) and Jinmei Kanji (人名漢字), designated “for personal names”. However, the Law has a flaw: the ideogram’s reading. Parents are free to choose how should the kanji be read and write it down on the birth certificate. Once given… A name is very difficult to change.
In a society who cares so much for the conformity, more and more children know at least one kid at school with an uncommon name. To tell the truth, this new wave of creative Japanese kira kira names seems to be on the rise, despite the nuisance it can represent for the holders! Not only could you be the victim of harassment at school but your name could be a barrier to finding employment later. Even the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, urged the parents to think about the well-being and the future of their kid when choosing a name.
Why the “Kira Kira” Names?
Currently, we can imagine 2 reasons justifying the “Kira Kira” names trend. One resides within the Japanese incredible popular culture of animation, manga, movies and so on. Similar to the TV-shows’ influence on American and European names, Japanese subculture has influenced Japanese parents. Most of the times, the Kanji of characters’ names are used as a phonetic symbol instead of for the meaning or on the contrary, Kanji used for their meaning, irrespective of their readings. This way of using Kanji is called “ateji” (当て字).
- 光宙 – ぴかちゅう – Pikachu
- 愛猫 – きてぃ – Kitty
- 今鹿 – なうしか – Naushika
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.
Popular “Kira Kira” Names in 2015
One sad fact is that on the internet, “Kira Kira” names are also called DQN names (DQN ネーム) meaning “stupid name”. Not so nice for those who had creative parents. And thanks to parents’ inspiration, there is not one day without a new entry in the “Kira Kira” names’ list. In 2015, the following top 10 was issued. In the first position… “Shiizaa”, referring to Caesar.
1位「皇帝」（しいざあ） – Caesar
2位「星凛」（あかり、きらり）- Akari, Kirari
4位「煌人」（きらと、あきと）- Kirato, Akito
6位「空蒼」（くう、あせい）- Khu, Asei
10位「七海」（まりん） – Marin
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