You may think choosing a name for your kid is hard, but in the West, we have it easy. All we have to choose is the name. Here in Japan, parents-to-be also have to choose what characters they want to write it with, a decision that has to take into account the relative auspiciousness of the number of strokes it takes to write, how well-known a particular reading is, and even if the government will accept the name they finally settle on.
Like trends for particular names, there are trends in the use of particular kanji or Chinese characters, too. Insurer Meiji Yasuda has just published the most common names this year and the kanji used for them.
Each year Meiji Yasuda looks at newborn babies named in insurance contracts with their company and publishes data on the use of kanji and other characters in Japanese names.
This year, the most common character used in boys’ names is 蓮, read as “ren” and used by itself to make that name. It means sacred lotus.
The second most popular kanji for boys' names were 大 (big) and 翔 (soar) to make the name 大翔, read as Hiroto or Haruto. And coming in third place was the kanji for sun and the kanji for facing combined for 陽向, read as Hinata or Haruta.
For girls, one of the most common characters was 凛, read as “rin”. This can mean cold, but also dignified and gallant.
Also particularly popular for girls was the character 菜 (“na”, vegetable greens), appearing in combo with sun (陽菜) for the names Hina and Hinata or with the kanji for binding or joining to make the name 結菜, read as Yuna or Yuina.
According to a Meiji Yasuda representative, “The character for sun is popular for both girls and boys because parents say they want to raise children ‘capable of lighting up the world around them.’ Perhaps this is a reflection of news stories recently about Japanese winning medals in Sochi and being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.”
Source: NHK Newsweb
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