Saturday, March 11, 2006

My parents are hoping…

In Japan, when parents give name for their child, they often care about the meaning of kanji which they use in the name.

As you may know, each kanji has meaning.

For example, my name Akiko is 明子” in kanji.
means “bright” and means “child” also is often used in girl’s name.
My parents hoped that I became a bright child.
My mum’s name is Sachiko, 幸子” in kanji.
is happy and is child, I guess my grandparents hoped that my mum became a happy child.

There are some popular Japanese names in the following list.

Girl’s name

Yuki 有紀 (exist) + (methodical)
Hope she becomes a person with methodical idea

Natsuko 夏子 夏(summer) + (child)
She was born in August.

Kimie 喜美恵 喜(glad) + (beautiful) + (bless)
Hope she is always glad, beautiful and blessed.
(What an ambitious name!!)

Youko 陽子 陽(sun) + (child)
Hope she becomes a cheerful child like sun.


Boy’s name

Ken 健 健(healthy)
Hope he is always healthy.

Tetsuya 哲也 哲(smart) + (“yes, it’s true.”)
Hope he becomes a 100% smart person.

Jiro 次郎 次(next, second) + (boy)
He is their second son.

Ryoichi 良一 良(good) + (one, best, first)
Hope he becomes the best boy in the world!

Do you know any people having the above name?
Do you think the name is suitable for the person?

How do parents decide the names for their children in your country?

14 comments:

  1. Very interesting!

    Is there any religious consideration to picking a name for Japanese children (for some families)? Example, for some families that are religious in America they may choose a name for their child that represents some aspect of their religious faith. Example, I knew a family back home that named their sons after the apostles from the Bible (e.g, Matthew, Mark, John, etc). It isn't meant in any way to imply that they think their children are an apostle, but rather a reflection of their reverence for specific people in their faith.

    Also, does the meaning of a Japanese name change when adding a suffix like -ko for some female names? I notice you posted the meaning for Yuki. Would that name have a different meaning than Yukiko, for example?

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  2. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Well, out of the Japanese friends that I do have, I don't have any of those names. But I do know the Kanji to their names, so maybe I could share some of those with you all:

    Maki: The Kanji in her name, according to her emails, is 英明 Which I know 英 to be England or something pertaining to English and 明 as in Bright or Light. According to my JLookup dictionary program, its also the kanji for the word えいめい or intelligent, wise, clear-sighted. I didn't get a chance to ask her about the kanji in her name, but I think her name fits her ^_^

    Chiho: Her kanji is 千穂. The 千 being "one thousand", and 穂 being "grain" or "the crest of a wave". According to her, the 千 is in honor of her grandfather, who's name starts with that kanji. Her mom decided to add 穂 to it to form "one thousand grains" or more poetically "Eternal Goodness"(the thought behind it being that 1000 is a big number, almost too hard to count so almost "eternal" or "never ending". And with having grain in that quantity it would always make that person who had it happy, because it was a "good thing" or be a source of "goodness" for that person.) She's an only child, and her mom hoped that Chiho would always bring her good things in her life. As long as I've known her, she has ^_^

    Yuuko: Her kanji is 裕子 裕 being "abundant" and 子 being "child". She told me her mom wished for her to have lots of things so she wouldn't be sad, so she named her Yuuko. She been to lots of different countries, so maybe its true?

    For my name, Christopher originates with the greek language, and it means "Bearer of Christ". My mother liked the name, but didn't learn of it meaning until much later.

    I don't really like my name, so since I am 20, I've decided to change it slightly.

    Well, my middle name is Adam, which is "red" in Babylonian, Assyrian, and Hebrew language. Its a generic term to refer to Human beings, but is most commonly known for the bible story of the first man. I'm planning on changing my first and middle name. My first name will change to Jair (pronounced やいる in Japanese) which in Hebrew means "Enlightener", a had a few close friends decide on a name, and they found this one. They thought it best described me and my the biggest change in life (visiting Japan and my wanting to become a Teacher), so it was well fitting. My middle name, in honor of my mother will be Cristoval which is "Christopher" in Spanish.

    Its not very often that people change their names completely in America, but when women marry they take last name of their husband usually. Nowadays, lots of women hyphen their names. For example, Ms. brown married Mr. Smith, so her name would be changed to "Mrs. Brown-Smith". His name will still be Smith, as well as their children, but her's would change.

    One last note, my sister's name is Alegria, which is 幸せ(しあわせ)in Spanish. She's my mother's only girl, and she wanted a girl after trying and getting 3 boys. She was her last child, so she made her happy.

    It is my understanding that you can't change your name in Japan, is that true?

    -Christopher

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  3. My friend's middle name is 幸子.

    My name means "gift from god". You can find meanings, origins, common gender, etc. for most English names here:

    http://www.babynames.com/

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  4. >Bill

    Usually there aren't religious meaning in Japanese names, but some people have religious name, I guess.
    Maybe like families related to temples or something like that.

    About adding "ko" for girls' names, actually names with "ko" is a little bit old idea.
    I (28years old) have many friends with "ko", but recently there are almost zero babys with "ko".
    I remember that when I was a child, I envied girls who have names without "ko"!

    I think the meaning doesn't change even if they add "ko" or not.
    But, most of parents care about the stroke number for their children's names.
    So it sometimes happens that Yukiko is not "lucky" stroke number for her, but Yuki is okay or something like that.
    I'm not sure how they decide lucky or not, the parents buy a book and research it!


    >Christopher

    Wow! You know very well about your friends' names. (^ ^)
    I think usually 英明 isn't read Maki.
    英明 is usually read Hideaki, boy's name.
    Your explanation for each kanji is perfect anyway!

    In Japan, changing the name is possible, but it's very difficult.
    I don't know anyone who changed their name.
    When you decided to change your name, what did your parents say?
    Were they okay??

    I didn't know that lots of women hyphen their names after they get married.
    Interesting!
    In Japan we cannot have choice so far.
    It's an good idea. (^ ^)
    Though their names become quite long.... like first name + middle name + last name - another last name, right!??


    >Nathan

    Interesting website!
    Actually, I was trying to find that kind of website for Japanese names, but I couldn't...!

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  5. Anonymous6:11 PM

    >I think usually 英明 isn't read Maki.
    英明 is usually read Hideaki, boy's name.
    Your explanation for each kanji is perfect anyway!

    That explains a lot actually. Thanks, I wasn't sure of it, but I'm glad that I at least explained it right.. See, my friend Maki's husband is named Hideaki. But I was recieving emails from her through his email. But the name in Kanji appeared that way, but in English it said "Maki" instead of "Hideaki". So I mistook that for her name.

    >When you decided to change your name, what did your parents say?
    Were they okay??

    Well my father didn't have a real say in my name in the first place, so he was okay with it. Also,he added a middle name to his name in honor of his mother for all the hard work she undertook in raising him among 11 children. (He took her maiden name, Melendrez, as his middle name) My mother felt that she didn't do a good job in naming me the way she wanted to, so changing my name for myself wasn't a bad thing. She encouraged me to change it since I wasn't happy with it.

    >Though their names become quite long.... like first name + middle name + last name - another last name, right!??

    Quite long. especially in Mexico. The exception there is that Your maiden name goes at the end of your name. So for example, my sister's full name is Alegria Christina Estrada. If she were to get married in Mexico to, for example, a Mr. Gonzalez, her new name in Mexico would be Alegria Christina Gonzalez Estrada. That's a lot of names! But when people in Mexico come to the United States, the customs people mess up on their names and change it. A common mixup would to change my Sister's 4 names into 3 names Alegria Gonzalez Estrada, with her original maiden name has her new last name. Talk about confusing, right?

    >In Japan we cannot have choice so far.
    It's an good idea. (^ ^)

    What do you mean cannot have a choice? I'm not familiar with name changing practices in Japan, so could you explain that a little more? Is it that you cannot change the last part of the name when you marry or you cannot change the name at all in general?

    -Christopher

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  6. 剣の魂8:31 PM

    明子さん:
    私は実際に日本語を愛する。 このblogは非常に素晴らしい。 私のような人々が
    日本語についての詳細を学ぶことができるようにそれを作るためにありがとう。


    よろしく、
    剣の魂

    P.S. All this was generated by a translator, and no, I do not really know if it did its job properly, so kindly bear with me if there is any incorrect translation. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. >Christopher

    >What do you mean cannot have a choice?

    Sorry. (>_<)
    My explanation was not clear...
    When people get married, they have to choose one family name.
    Husband's family name or wife's family name.
    (Most of people choose husband's name though.)
    So I thought that's an good idea to use both with hyphen. (^ ^)

    As you said, it sometimes would be confusing to "manage" people's name for government.
    I think that's the reason for that Japanese people cannot have middle name and people have to choose husband's family name or wife's family name.
    No exception!
    Some people are trying to change the law.
    So maybe in the future, we'll have choice like the U.S. . (^ ^)


    >剣の魂

    Thank you for your nice comments. (^ ^)
    Did you use machine translation system on internet?
    That's very useful, isn't it?

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  8. 始めまして、Ole'Wolvie と申します。宜しくお願いいたします!

    I have been looking for a blog writteb by a Japanese on blogger since like, forever! Then I came across your blog completely by chance ^^.

    This is quality English. I wish I can write as well in Japanese as you do.

    この素晴らしいブログをインクさせていただきます^^。

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous5:32 PM

    >When people get married, they have to choose one family name.
    Husband's family name or wife's family name.

    Ah, so that's how it works! Thank you for explaning it further I understand now. That's really simple and convinent I think. But I hyphen would be good too if you cannot decide which name to take.

    >Some people are trying to change the law. So maybe in the future, we'll have choice like the U.S. . (^ ^)

    That will be interesting to see how it turns out. Maybe some do not like their names, and would like to change it. Or perhaps, they would like to add something to their name, like a middle name, in honor of a relative. At the same time, though, I would hope that it would stay since it is Japan's way. Maybe Japan's way is better for Japan. With names Hyphened and with people with 4 names, its very confusing in the US. But maybe allowing middle names would be good ^_^

    I have a closing comment question for you Akiko-sensei: If you could change your first name, what would it be and why?

    -Christopher

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  10. >Ole'Wolvie

    Thank you for your comments. (^ ^)
    You seem speak Japanese well. No?
    Most of people who are learning Japanese language speak another foreign language except their mother language and Japanese language.
    How about you?
    For me, studying one more language seems almost imposible!! (* *)

    By the way, your photo is so cute. (^o^)


    >Christopher

    Hmm... if I change my name... maybe I'll choose "Naoko".
    My parents were thinking of "Akiko" or "Naoko" for my name when I was born.
    Naoko is 直子 in kanji.
    直 means "straight, honest".
    But I lilke my name now.
    Actually my name is good as teaching Japanese.
    All of the kanji in my name are quite simple (JLPT level4).
    It's easy for my students to remember meaning of my name. (^o^)

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  11. Anonymous4:03 PM

    >Hmm... if I change my name... maybe I'll choose "Naoko".
    My parents were thinking of "Akiko" or "Naoko" for my name when I was born.
    Naoko is 直子 in kanji.

    Naoko huh, that's very nice. ^.^

    I know the Kanji for it too, its the same as the word 'naosu', as in "時計を直す" right? Oddly enough, that was one of the first kanji my class memorized. Naoko is a nice name, but maybe as a kid it would be a little difficult to live up to? Since you'd have to always be an "honest child", even when you made a mistake right?

    -Christopher

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  12. Yes, 直 in 直子 is 直す in 時計を直す. (^ ^)

    >Naoko is a nice name, but maybe as a kid it would be a little difficult to live up to?

    I think so, too!

    Also some girls have very "beautiful" name, like kanji for butiful + kanji for beautiful and the sound is beautiful.
    If you hear the name before you meet her, you could imagine very beautiful girl.
    I think that's difficult to live up to!! (*_*)

    That is called "名前負け"(namae make) in Japanese.
    名前 is "name" and 負け is "lose (not win)".
    That means "The person is losing to his/her name". (^ ^;)
    Do you have same expression in English?

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  13. Anonymous2:44 PM

    >If you hear the name before you meet her, you could imagine very beautiful girl.
    I think that's difficult to live up to!! (*_*)

    Absolutely! Its very difficult to live up to a name like that, I think. I knew a girl named Candy, so you would think she is very sweet or kind, like candy. But she was very mean, actually.

    >That is called "名前負け"(namae make) in Japanese.
    名前 is "name" and 負け is "lose (not win)".
    That means "The person is losing to his/her name". (^ ^;)
    Do you have same expression in English?

    Other than "He/she doesn't live up to their name", not really. Something similar though, is if a son or daughter is a lot alike their parents, we say "He/she is a chip off the old block" or, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree". Both meaning their habits, good or bad, can be found in their children. I, for example, act and look alot like my father. So I hear those phrases a lot from other people.

    Other than those, I cannot recall a direct similarity in English for that one in Japanese though. I'll ask my brother if he knows one in Spanish that I could translate to english.

    -Christopher

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  14. I haven't met a girl named Candy before.
    That's very cute name!!
    Your story is so funny.
    Mean Candy... hahaha. (^o^;)

    >"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree"

    Exactly! Interesting!
    Thank you for letting me know this expression.
    I'll try to use it. (^ ^)

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