A baby`s name is arguably the most important thing that a parent will ever choose for her son or daughter. As an over-thinker, this is the one thing that has been causing me the most anxiety during my pregnancy.

Today I am stuck at home with a cold... ewww... a horrible cough which is made so much worse by the dry dry dry Japanese winter. I currently have a steamer / humidifer going and Yoshi convinced me to wear a mask (as it should trap moist air around my mouth).

Being stuck at home with lots of time to kill, and easy access to the internet, today is a big name-searching day.

Let me tell you what I am thinking about so far.

Of course Yoshi is Japanese, and I am from New Zealand with a mostly English (from the UK) background. We both think that a name that is easy for people (in any country) to pronounce is one of the most important things. Obviously the baby`s surname is Japanese, so Yoshi doesn`t want a really Japanese name as the first name.

- can you read the names on the list below? These are the top baby names in Japan from 2009... For boys, Hiroto, Shouta, Ren, Souta, Sora, Yuuto, Yuuto (with different Kanji), Yuuma, Eita, Shou. For girls, Rin, Sakura, Hina, Yua, Yuna, Miu, Yui, Aoi, Miyu, Misaki.

When Yoshi was living in Canada (during high school) he said he always wanted an English name (like John!) because some people had trouble pronouncing his double-barrelled first name; Yoshinori. So he really wants a typical English name for our son.

My mum and dad are teachers, I changed schools a lot when I was growing up, and now I am a teacher in Japan (kids and adults). One of the results of all this... I have met so many people with so many different names during my life. It is so hard to pick a name that doesn`t make me think of someone I knew before.

I would love to find a name that can be written in Japanese (with Kanji characters) and that also can be written and easily identified in English. Unfortunately, there are quite a few girls` names like this in Japan (for example Emma or Naomi), but not so many boys` ones.

I have a few names on a short list, but am not quite ready to share yet. Any ideas from you all?


  1. yes i know! i once tried to look for names for a boy (because i want a boy, haha) that can be easily identified in English but there aren't many. i mean, i couldn't come up with a distinctive one.

    ken, hiro(hero), hide, kazu, go....

  2. i'm jealous your husband actually wants to give your baby a more non-japanese first name to counter the japanese last name. Ro and i have talked names here and there and i've said if the kid has a japanese first name, they will definitely have an "american" middle name. he doesn't understand the need for a middle name and worries if the kid has two names, they'll have some kind of identity crisis not knowing which name is theirs! haha!

    i like the idea of having a name that can be pronounced in both languages, but sometimes i think, "huh? really?!" when i see names that have been clearly forced to be written in kanji, just to have an "english" sounding name. Claire and Chloe and Julie (Juri), off the top of my head. they aren't impossible in japanese, but they just don't strike me as "japanese-y" names (some may disagree, see below)

    since i work with little kids, i feel like i get a little insight into the "now" names and what's popular. i also worked at a middle school for a couple years and agree that being a teacher makes picking a name that much harder because it will inevitably remind you of some kid (for better or worsse!) you had in class.

    i used to love the name emily, but i'm not a fan of it in japanese. that's not to say i think it's an english name forced into japanese; i just don't prefer the sound of it in japanese. i know some people will argue that "Emiri" is JUST as "japanese" as something like Miyuki or Sakura; i'm not strongly agreeing or disagreeing with that, just personal preference. i do think there is a trend for names to be more "international." again, people might argue they are just as "japanese" as older names, and part of thinks, yeah, they are still being used in mainstream japanese names, which, makes them japanese.

    but i also think there's a trend of using bizarre kanji combinations and using "ateji" and reading kanji in unusual ways. i see a lot of creative english spellings too. Rui in japanese becomes Louis when written in english, or using C instead of K in names like Momoca or Cocona.

    i'm torn in my own heart about wanting a unique name for me (someday) kid, and one that will reflect their background (my family uses relatives names as middle names or grandparents' names as grandchildren's names etc.) but sometimes i think it might just be easier to give my kid a "usual" japanese name and save them the hassle. (of course i'm neither pregnant nor even MARRIED yet, so we're getting WAY ahead of ourselves...haha)

    there are also names i like in japanese that aren't all that pretty or nice sounding in english. i like Mana or Ran for a girl, but i know those will get butchered in english, or if just read on paper. or Suzuran, and i'd call her Suzy or Suzu. i really like the name Juno (using the "no" kanji from one of my best friends) or even Juna (Ro likes a particular "na" character) but boys names are way harder i think. i like some names that end with "suke" like Junnosuke or even a kind of "now" Osuke, but i think the "suke" might get mispronounced in english. i like shorter names like Kei, Yuma and Yuta and kind of alright with Souta (obviously i'm inconsistent on the long U sound spelling...)

    okay, marathon comment finished. :P

  3. Thanks Ochi - those are cute names! Wow J. what a long comment, thanks for your feedback. I also hate those English names that have been forcibly written in kanji. What is the point of having a kanji name if no one can read or recognise it? I have similar feelings about people who change the spelling of perfectly good English names, just to seem unique - grrr.

    We bought a book that has used some English names and English words to make Japanese names and I kind of liked Tyler (Taira), and Louis (Rui) etc... which when written in English would be completely English, and then in Japanese, would be in written in Kanji. Unfortunately, there are so many more girls names that work this way. I guess for a boy, we might have to be a bit more traditional.

    Guess I still have lots of thinking to do.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

What is a chanchanko (ちゃんちゃんこ)?

Maternity clothing in Japan

Where to buy baby clothes in Osaka