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, so read on to see what the hippest babies are sporting.
Jun 4, 2014
The award-winning “Share a Coke” campaign launched in Japan last year with bottles that invited consumers to share a memorable song, connected with a particular year, with a friend. Now, name-printed bottles – a part of the campaign that’s already launched in different countries around the world – have made their way to Japan. In grocery stores around the country, you can happily root to the back of the chiller cabinet looking for a Coke with you or your friend’s name on it (if you have a Japanese name, that is!).
And it seems some bright sparks have hit on a brilliant money-spinning idea off the back of this: collect the names of all the members of a pop group, and sell them on online auctions. A set of Coke bottles with the names of all five girls from idol group Momoiro Clover Z, printed complete with -Z suffixes, has sold on Yahoo Auctions for 15,000 yen (US $150).
Feb 13, 2014
Turning 100 years old is indeed a great achievement. Not only can we appreciate and look up to those who seem to follow the correct path to a ripe old age, but it’s always a shining example of how far we have come as a people to extend our lives so much over the years.
And so, it’s with great honor and reverence that we here at RocketNews24 would like to wish a happy belated birthday to Ms… erm… Mxy…zptlk Sugahara!
Apparently we weren’t alone in not being able to read this woman’s name. Netizens came out in droves shrugging their shoulders and figuring a cockroach got into the printing press. A chosen few however, scolded their peers for not being cultured enough to decipher it.
Michelle Lynn Dinh
Jan 10, 2014
What’s in a name? In Japan, those with a strong understanding of kanji, those pesky Chinese characters that are always tripping up language learners, can immediately understand the significance of anyone’s appellation.
Although the most common surname in Japan is “Sato,” it turns out that there’s a far more popular name combination that doesn’t include our quirkiest reporter‘s last name. Let’s take a look at the most common given and family names in Japan and the meanings behind them.
If you’re ever looking for the Japanese equivalent to “John Smith,” the go-to name is decidedly “Tarou Yamada.” And yet, if you look at today’s population, neither of those names top the popularity charts! Yamada, though simple to write and stereotypically Japanese, isn’t even in the top five for family names!
Now that we mentioned it, we’re sure you’re all curious to know now, so here’s a list of the five most common family names in Japan, as announcement by the Meiji Life Insurance Company.
Amidst all of the controversy flaring up in Japan over “kirakira names,” the question was raised concerning a rather peculiar name trait shared by many old Japanese women. A large number of aging grandmothers have names written in katakana, the phonetic alphabet that modern Japan usually reserves for foreign words. It’s a trend attributed to the Meiji and Taisho eras (roughly spanning the years 1868 to 1926), and sure enough, it’s no coincidence. Read More
Aug 21, 2013
It’s a little-known fact that until the Meiji era (1868-1912), the ordinary men and women of Japan did not have surnames. Rather, those names were reserved for people in positions of power, nobility, or those of noted artistic ability.
There are an estimated 100,000 family names in Japan — much more than in many Western countries, and vastly more than in neighbouring Korea and China — however what’s curious is that of these surnames 10 are incredibly common, with millions of people sharing the exact same moniker. If you’re on your way to Japan or learning the language, knowing how to read and pronounce at least a few of these will almost certainly get you out of a jam at some point or other, so allow us to introduce Japan’s 10 most common surnames, their meanings, and a few fun facts on top, just because we’re nice like that and we like your face.
Nov 28, 2012
It’s not easy being a kid. If you’re fat the other kids make fun of you; if you’re skinny the other kids make fun of you; if you get good grades they make fun of you… Kids don’t need a genuine reason to be tease their peers; they can make one up just as easily.
But when your parents name you after their favourite thing – be it the weather on the day you were born, the place you were conceived or their favourite snack food – things get awkward for poor little Windy Latrine Butterfinger.
Although authorities have been known to intervene when parents try to call their child things like Akuma, meaning devil in Japanese, and @ as once rejected by authorities in China, the vast majority slip through the net. Since kanji, the Chinese characters used in the Japanese writing system, are based on meaning and can be read in a variety of different ways, parents giving their child a kanji-based name (some choose phonetic kana script, but this is usually just for girls) are able to choose both their child’s name and how it will be written.
For the most part, parents choose names that convey their love or hopes for their offspring, but in the land of otaku nerdism, sometimes parents just can’t help but get carried away.
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