Japanese Baby Names: Lovely sounds, lovely meanings

posted by: Callmecalliope View all posts by this author

By Jackie, aka CallmeCalliope at namesplash.com

I love Japanese baby names; these names often have lovely nature and virtue-related meanings. However, the Japanese baby naming tradition is complex, particularly due to the thousands of kanji (characters) that can be used to spell names. Many kanji have the same sound but different meanings; thus, names that sound the same could have many possible spellings and meanings. Additionally, a single kanji can have more than one sound. Here are some kanji (spelled out phonetically, of course) commonly used in names:

ai = love
hana = flower
hiro = man/husband/hero
ichi = one
ji = two
ken = healthy
ko = child (common in girls’ names)
mi = beauty
rou = son
you = sun

Next are some Japanese names I find most beautiful in sound and meaning. You will see that several of the names I’ve listed have two-part meanings, representing the kanji commonly combined to create that name. Keep in mind that I have grouped names by gender based on my personal preference or most common usage. Many Japanese names are not considered gender specific.

Girls:

AimiLove+Beautiful
AiriLove+Jasmine
AkemiBright+Beautiful
AkiraBright+Light
AmaranteFlower that never fades
Aya– Color
AyameIris
Chiyo– Thousand+Generations (eternal)
Emiko– Smiling child (there are a variety of other meanings but this is my favorite)
HanakoFlower+Child
Kaede– (“kah-eh-deh”)- Maple
Kaida- Little dragon
KanonFlower+Sound
Kaori Fragrance
Kazuki– One or Harmony + Radiance or Hope
KohanaLittle flower
Maiko- Dance+Child
Miya– Increasing beauty
MorikoForest+Child

Rumi – Beauty+Flow+Lapis Lazuli
Shiori– Weave+Poem
SuzumeSparrow
TamaJewel
TsukikoMoon+Child

Boys:

AkioBright+Man OR Bright+Hero
Daichi– Great+Earth OR Great+Wisdom
Hajime– Beginning
Isamu- Courage
Kado– Gateway
Kaemon– Joyful
Kazuo Harmony+Man
Raiden God of thunder (Rai=thunder, Den=Lightning)
Ronin– Samurai without a master
Ryuu– Dragon
Sora(“so-ruh”)- Sky
Taiki– Great+Radiance
Yasuo– Peaceful man
YoiteEvening rain
Yori– Trustworthy

What are your favorite Japanese names? Please add your corrections and knowledge of Japanese baby naming!

Adapted from a blog in namesplash.

 

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About the author

Callmecalliope

Jackie is a lifelong name nerd and a busy student working to earn a doctorate in biomedical science. In her minimal spare time, she loves to cuddle with her pets, cook, and name things. Check out Jackie’s blog, Namesplash.
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7 Responses to “Japanese Baby Names: Lovely sounds, lovely meanings”

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indiefendi Says:

August 24th, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Can Mariko be added to the Nameberry database please?!

Llumeneres Says:

August 25th, 2014 at 12:28 am

I know a lovely Japanese girl called Mio. I’ve always adored her name!

mckaylalove Says:

August 25th, 2014 at 1:09 am

I like Akira, Emiko, Kaida, Maiko amd Miya. I also like Mika, even though it isn’t listed here. For boys I like Kazou, Ronin and Sora.

Nooshi Says:

August 25th, 2014 at 4:35 am

Ditto Mariko being added to the database. It is my mothers middle name and means ‘ball child’, ‘circle child’ or ‘true child’- I’ve always thought it was beautiful. Also, can Jinichi be added? It is my great grandfathers name and means ‘gentle one’ or ‘tender one’ among other meanings, which I think is beautiful, and certainly sums him up. Another one I would love to see added is Kazue (it is the feminine version of Kazuo, meaning ‘harmony blessing’, and was my grandmothers name). It is pronounced kaz-oo-EH.

Other lovely ones not on Nameberry:
Momo: my number one name: ‘peach’ / ‘peach blossom’ / ‘hundred’. Its variations Momoko (peach child / peach blossom child) and Momoka (peach blossom perfume) are also incredibly beautiful. Momoka would be a good alternative to Mimosa, which seems to be on a lot of peoples GP lists around here.
Ishiko: rock child- good for honouring a Peter, as is Ishi.
Akiko: (female: sparkle child / bright child / autumn child)
Asuka: (female: tomorrow scent)
Ayame (female: iris)
Atsuko: (female: warm child / honest child / kind child)
Etsuko: (female: joy child)
Haru: (unisex: sun, sunlight / spring / clear)
Izumi: (female: fountain, spring)
Miku: (female: ‘beautiful sky’ or ‘always beautiful’)
Miu: (female: ‘beautiful’ or ‘feather’)
Satsuki: (female: fifth month)
Yuko: (female: gentle child)

From the list posted, I love:
Akemi- Bright+Beautiful
Akira- Bright+Light
Amarante- Flower that never fades
Ayame- Iris
Chiyo- Thousand+Generations (eternal)
Emiko- Smiling child (there are a variety of other meanings but this is my favorite)
Hanako- Flower+Child
Kaori- Fragrance
Kazuki- One or Harmony + Radiance or Hope
Maiko- Dance+Child
Moriko- Forest+Child
Shiori- Weave+Poem
Suzume- Sparrow
Tsukiko- Moon+Child

Boys:

Akio- Bright+Man OR Bright+Hero
Isamu- Courage
Kazuo- Harmony+Man
Sora– (“so-ruh”)- Sky
Taiki- Great+Radiance
Yasuo- Peaceful man
Yori- Trustworthy

» Japanese Baby Names: Lovely sounds, lovely meanings Baby Name Suggestion Says:

August 26th, 2014 at 3:48 am

[…] Jackie, known to us as CallMeCalliope, provides the basics of Japanese baby names, with some of her favorite examples. Nameberry – Baby Name Blog […]

LexieM Says:

August 26th, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I love that there is a non-western name blog entry…. right on!!!

Sayo Says:

May 2nd, 2017 at 8:54 am

My name is Sayo-bloom/flourish+era It means “May you blossom and flourish for your entire life”
My brother’s name is Aiki-indigo+noble It means “Noble person from India” because my father is Indian and Indigo sometimes represents India, especially in Japanese.
Other names I like:
Aiko-love+child
Aya-design/color/Asia+all the more/Asia+night
Mika-Sea+song/fascination+beauty/flavor+summer/sincerity+esteem/truth+incence (you can mix and match too, like sea+beauty)
Yuri- Lily
Momo-peach
Momoko-peach+child
Amaya-rain+night/sweet+night
Arya-bright+jasmine+beautiful/peaceful+clever+Asia/my+weave+bright/flatter+lapis lazuli+bright (you can mix and match, like beautiful+weave+Asia) (there are other options for the “ri” such as pear tree, plum, reason, etc.)
Aki-Autumn
Natsu-Summer
Natsuko-Summer+child
Natsumi-Summer+fruit
Manami-middle+wave “middle of the wave”/love+beauty/love+sea/middle+name+beauty/love+futur/love+fruit
Kai-forgiveness
Marina- the ‘ma’ can be eye, true, jasmine, horse, polish, interval, the ‘ri’ can be jasmine, village, pear tree, reason, weave, lapis lazuli, plum, clever, the ‘na’ can be successful, summer, chirp, apple tree, evergreen tree, settlement, vegetable, seven, south, name, beautiful
And many more…

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