Japanese Names and Meanings

Popularity of Japanese Names

Japanese Culture

Japanese Names and Meanings

Japan is a very ancient country with a colorful history and complex society. Its unique and beautiful culture has intrigued people for centuries and recently Japanese names have been growing in popularity amongst people from other countries.

Japanese girl names are quite popular nowadays due to their beautiful unique sounds and meanings. Some of the more common kanji (Chinese characters) used in them are ko ("child"), mi ("beautiful"), and ka ("flower"). Historically they almost always ended in "ko" such as Naoko, Nobuko, Kyoko, etc. though this trend is starting to fade. Still, a "ko" name is by far the most well recognized as Japanese in origin by those who are not from Japan.

Some popular ones are:

- Sakura ("cherry blossom")
- Aiko ("child of love")
- Hana ("flower")
- Yuri ("lily")
- Miyuki ("beautiful blessing")

Japanese boy names have also become quite popular lately. Their name was traditionally chosen by the parents based on either birth order such as the name Ichiro ("first son") or by qualities they would want to see in their bloodline such as Daiki ("great nobility"). The more common kanji used in them are ro ("son"), o ("man"), and masa ("righteous").

Some common ones include:

- Ichiro ("first son")
- Kenichi ("strong/healthy first")
- Masa ("true")
- Toshi ("wise")
- Yoshi ("lucky")

Japanese last names historically were not used by the vast majority of people in Japan until the Meiji period. Their surnames have often been of interest to others mainly due to their hidden meanings. Because they are always written in kanji, the meaning of the name is dependent on the ones used. Most of them in Japan are comprised of one to three kanji characters. The characters used are typically a combination of physical landmarks and adjectives.

The five most popular surnames used in Japan are:

- Sato ("help, wisteria)
- Suzuki ("small bell tree")
- Takahashi ("tall bridge")
- Tanaka ("center of rice field")
- Watanabe ("cross boundary") 

About the Author

Learn more about Japanese name meanings and find the most complete list of Japanese names online including Japanese last names, Japanese boy names, and Japanese girl names at japanese-names.org

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