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Japanese name

Japanese name consists of "family name" and "first name (given name)".
And "family name" precedes "first name", contrary to the name of Western people.
This order is same as the names of Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese peoples.

"Suzuki Ichiro"
Suzuki is the family name and Ichiro is the first name.

But, when we introduce ourselves to Western people, we often say our family name after our first name.
"Ichiro Suzuki"

There is no general rule of the order.
When you must remember the name of an important person, you had better ask which is the first name.

In this website, I have used the order "first name - family name", because of English text.

Family name

Family name in Japan consists of a few kanji characters.
Most names consist of two characters, and some names consist of one character or three characters.
The names with over four characters are rare.

It is said that there are more than 300 thousand kinds of family names in Japan.
The below list has the top 101 family names in Japan, but the people with these family names is only one third of the total population in Japan.
During my school days, no classmate with the same family name I have was in my class every year.
There are a wide variety of family name in Japan.

But the family names of Korean and Chinese people almost consist of one kanji character.
So there are a very narrower variety of family names than Japan.

Top 101 family names in Japan

First name

After a baby has been born, the parents enjoy naming.

Generally, to create the first name, they combine a few kanji charcters. Of course, they can also use hiragana and katakana characters.
Each kanji character has some meanings.
They select the best characters for the baby from over 2,000 characters.

For boy, they select the characters with meanings such as "big", "great", "brave", "fly", "fight" and so on.
For girl, they select the characters with meanings with as "bright", "sunny", "beautiful", "lovely", and some flowers' names.

After that, they give the reading to the combination of the characters.
Traditional name for men has "o", "rou", "ichi", "ji", "zou", etc. at the end of the name.
And traditional name for women has "ko", "mi", "yo", etc. at the end of the name.
But these are old-fashioned, so recent young parents don't like so much.

Generally, the following words are often used as a part of the name.
aki / atsu / iku / etsu / kazu / kei / kuni / kyou / sato / shige / sumi / jun / taka / teru / tomo / nao / nobu / nori / toshi / haru / hide / hiro / hisa / fumi / masa / michi / mitsu / moto / yasu / yoshi / yuki / yuu / you / ryou / etc.

For boy, the following words are used as a part of the name.
katsu / ken / kou / dai / hei / hiko / shin / shun / shuu / shou / suke / jou / taku / tatsu / tetsu / ryuu / etc.

For girl, the following words are used as a part of the name.
ai / ami / aya / ayu / emi / eri / kumi / nana / nami / mai / maya / mayu / mayo / maki / mana / mari / miki / miho / mina / momo / sachi / saki / saya / sayo / yuka / yumi / yuri / rumi / ruri / waka / etc.

In Japanese language, a kanji character has some readings.
So selected characters are able to be read variously.
The parents give the favorite reading to the character.

This is the way to name in Japan.

But, recently, many young parents tend to name a newborn child freely and they often select the name with good feeling of the word.
As a result, some popular names are used for both boys and girls.

Top 20 Boy's Names born in 2016 Top 20 Girl's Names born in 2016
1 Haruto 11 Asahi 1 Hana 11 Riko
2 Souta 12 Hinata 2 Sakura 12 Mei
3 Yuuto 13 Hiroto 3 Yui 13 Mio
4 Haruki 14 Yuusei 4 Rio 14 Rin
5 Sousuke 15 Kaito 5 Akari 15 Haruka
6 Riku 16 Haru 6 Aoi 16 Hina
7 Yuuma 17 Souma 7 Kiharu 17 Kaho
8 Yuito 18 Yuuki 8 Honoka 18 Momoka
9 Aoi 19 Kouki 9 Ichika 19 Ema
10 Takumi 20 Minato 10 Sana 20 Himari


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