Japanese Baby Names: Lovely sounds, lovely meanings

Japanese Baby Names: Lovely sounds, lovely meanings

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 girl 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.

Japanese Names for Girls

Aimi  Love + Beautiful

Airi Love + Jasmine

Akemi Bright + Beautiful

Akira Bright + Light

Amarante Flower that never fades

Aya — Color

Ayame Iris

Chiyo — Thousand + Generations (eternal)

Emiko — Smiling child (there are a variety of other meanings but this is my favorite)

Hanako Flower + Child

Kaede (“kah-eh-deh”)— Maple

Kaida Little dragon

Kanon Flower + Sound

Kaori — Fragrance

Kazuki — One or Harmony + Radiance or Hope

Kohana Little flower

Maiko — Dance + Child

Miya — Increasing beauty

Moriko Forest + Child

Rumi — Beauty + Flow + Lapis Lazuli

Shiori — Weave + Poem

Suzume Sparrow

Tama Jewel

Tsukiko Moon + Child

Japanese Names for Boys

Akio Bright + 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

Yoite Evening rain

Yori — Trustworthy

Adapted from a blog in namesplash.

About the Author


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.