Discover the top of Japanese names
Did you know that Japan has about 100,000 family names, and probably just as many given names? Thanks to the wonders of Japanese characters, Japanese names are quite interesting to learn. They are a door to Japanese culture, history and traditions and studying them is a very good way to steady your knowledge of kanji through grasping their meanings and readings. Many have experienced that stressful moment of not being able to comprehend fully when hearing a foreign name, and we believe that getting to know the top Japanese names will help you better remember the names of the people you will meet in Japan!
You already may know which Japanese names are frequent in Japan, a quick look into the numerous Japanese language books made so far can lead to you having a pretty good idea. In the top five most commonly occurring name in Japan, we have “Satou” in the first position with 2 million people having the name, followed by “Suzuki”, “Takahashi”, “Tanaka” and “Watanabe”!
Some Japanese names can be written with various kanji with the same reading or… on the contrary, read differently with the same kanji! Whereas “Satou” and “Tanaka” are always written “佐藤” and “田中”, “Watanabe” can have several kanji combinations for the second part of the name (nabe): 渡部, 渡邊 … “Satou” can also be read as “sadou”, “sato”, “saitou” etc. . Most of the family names go back centuries and have great histories behind them. To know more about “satou” we recommend you read this great article about how it became the number 1 of Japanese names.
For Japanese parents, choosing their child’s name can be a tricky question, as they must pay attention to a lot of details among which:
1) the number of kanji in the family and given name
2) the number of strokes in the family and given name’s kanji
3) the association of the kanji and reading.
4) the given name’s luck
The last point is very interesting, some Japanese people believe that certain given names can have a positive influence on the child’s life. Some of them bring very good luck, some only a normal amount of luck, and the rest… well, they are average. This task is sometimes so overwhelming for families, that they will ask Buddhist monks to choose a name for them accordingly. Japanese parents have just recently began to decide their child’s names by looking at baby name lists and picking a popular one. At the top of these lists, you can often find the same “name” written differently using various characters.
Let’s take a quick look at last year’s trending names for girls and boys!
- Hana (花)
- Himari (陽葵)
- Sakura (さくら)
- Akari (あかり)
- Honaka (穂香)
- Sota （颯太）
- Haruki (悠希)
- Sosuke (奏介)
- Yuito (結翔)
- Riku (陸)
- Yuki (悠希)
- Hinata (陽向)
Fun facts about Japanese names!
- In the past, many girls’ names ended in “ko” (which means child in Japanese), the trend has since shifted to “ka” and “na”.
- For a long time, the name chosen by the imperial family to their children greatly influenced Japanese people, who would name their kids with the same given names!
- Some parents choose deliberately to name their baby girl with a name written with no kanji. A name written in hiragana is said to be softer.