Naming Children in Japan

Naming Children in Japan

Good morning.

It’s quite private things but I became father on Jan 17.

Son was born early in morning on Sunday and it was ten days early from expected day.

Now I am thinking of his name now.

Sooo I wanna introduce how to name on children in Japan.


Family name

At first, I wanna refer family name. My family name is Sato(佐藤,さとう).

Actually, this family name is one of the most popular names.

According to statistics, 1 person out of 400person in Japan is Sato.

This is the top 10 family name in Japan.

Ranking Name in Kanji Name in Romaji Name in hiragana
1 佐藤 sato さとう
2 鈴木 suzuki すずき
3 高橋 takahashi たかはし
4 田中 tanaka たなか
5 伊藤 ito いとう
6 山本 yamamoto やまもと
7 渡辺 watanabe わたなべ
8 中村 nakamura なかむら
9 小林 kobayashi こばやし
10 加藤 kato かとう

Until the Meiji Era, ordinary people were not allowed to have family name. Having family name was one of the prestiges in that era. I can’t believe that now…

From the Meiji Era, even ordinary people could have family name. People started naming by using the place name they lived like the middle of the rice field (田中, tanaka), by using the job name they had like job of selling the oil(油屋, aburaya).

Sato is said to come from the supporter or servant of Fujiwara family, which had very strong political power in the middle age in Japan.

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Given Name

We Japanese usually think given name from the number of Kanji stroke. There is one rule someone made (I don’t know who exactly) that total number of stoke shows new baby’s character and fate. I believe it is one of superstition but many Japanese follows that rule. My parents followed that actually when they named me.


For example, my name is Ryosuke(亮介, りょうすけ). My total number of kanji stroke is 39. Base on this rule, man with this number is said to be able to get fortune and prestige. And he can overcome the hard time in the life. In addition, he has the ability of leadership and will be successful in work as a leader. Well… I hope this is matched with current myself. Haha.

The other way to name is giving part of parents’ name. It is also quite common.

Anyway, one does not change given name easily once the name is given by their parents. Parents want to give their children happier name as much as possible. That is what all parents think I believe. No one wants to give name to their children like “devil” or “bad luck”…


Well, I have some time to think about my son’s name (within 14days after birth). I am not sure I will follow this rule. Haha. What’s your rule or something in your country for giving name to children?


How was this post about naming children?

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