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Name Sage: Japanese-inspired Names for Raiden and Renzo's Sister

Name Sage: Japanese-inspired Names for Raiden and Renzo's Sister

They're living in Japan, so their new daughter's name needs to bridge two cultures - just like brothers Raiden and Renzo. Plus, they're hoping for something that feels meaningful to their family. The Name Sage tries to check all the boxes!

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Clarice writes:

I'm really hoping you could help me out with a unique name for our little girl.

My husband and I live in Japan and have been drawn to names that work in both English and Japanese. Our sons are Raiden and Renzo. Both names have special meanings for us.

I'd love to find something ocean-related for our little girl but I'm having trouble keeping the works-in-Japan theme. Nami and Noa are on our list but I'm not convinced we've found the one.

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The Name Sage replies:

This is quite a challenge!

Your sons’ names bridge their two cultures beautifully. It’s easy to imagine them growing up in Topeka or Tokyo.

While the number of boys' names that work in Japanese and English feels finite, it seems like dozens - maybe hundreds! - of girls' names work in both languages.

That's a different kind of challenge: narrowing a long list of maybes to just a few that would suit your family.

Focusing on names that relate to the ocean seems like a good approach to narrowing your lists.

We've got a lengthy list of Japanese names on the site, and yet - the name doesn't have to be traditionally Japanese, right? It just has to be pronouncable and recognizable as a name in Japan today. That's a broader definition - and perhaps why it's so tough to pick just one favorite.

I'm hoping readers will chime in on the forum, particularly if you've lived in Japan or speak the language well enough to provide some insight!

One note: as many of you know, Japanese is written with kanji. Because many names can be written several different ways, pinning down a single meaning is often impossible. If precision matters, please do check these with a native speaker!

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A SISTER FOR RAIDEN and RENZO

AMISA

It’s easy to imagine American parents inventing Amisa from stylish sounds. In this case, though, it comes from Japanese. The middle syllable refers to the sea.

EIMI

At first glance, Eimi looks like a complicated re-spelling of Amy. But, once again, the mi element means ocean. Does it sound more like Emmy in Japanese, maybe?

KAIRI

American parents embraced Kairi thanks to the Kingdom Hearts video game. The game developer based the name on kai – sea. The name ranks in the current US Top 1000.

KARINA

Most people probably think of Karina as a European spin on Katherine, a cousin to Katrina and Caterina. But it might also work in Japanese, as yet another kai name.

MARI

To the best of my knowledge, Mari is used as a girl’s given name in Japan, but none of the possible meanings connects it to the ocean. Except, of course, that mare means sea in Latin. It seems like an easy English-Japanese crossover choice.

MAREN, MARIN

Maren continues to climb in use in the US for our daughters, but I understand that it is unisex in Japan. Either spelling seems like a good option.

MIA, MIAYA

More mi names! Mia is, of course, a chart-topping favorite in the US. Miaya might be slightly more challenging in English, but it’s far more distinctive.

SORA

It sounds like a Zora/Sara mash-up, but Sora means sky. It’s not quite ocean, but I wonder if another name from the natural world would still appeal?

My favorite choice with Raiden and Renzo is Amisa. It has that same unexpected quality, but would wear well in English, and it seems like it works every bit as nicely in Japanese, too.

Readers, do you have background in Japanese names? Any thoughts about what might work well across both languages and refer to the ocean, too? Please pop over to the forums to share your ideas!

About the Author

Abby Sandel

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

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