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Japanese Baby Names: Signs of the Times With Newborns

Japanese Baby Names: Signs of the Times With Newborns

Date published: 4 June 2020
Last updated: 23 June 2020

The Japanese media platform for all things baby, Baby Calendar, has released the results of a survey of the names of 18,315 babies born in April 2020. The results show some interesting trends in naming that demonstrate how current events, seasons, and eras influence the naming of children.

Top 10 Girls' and Boy's Names 2020

Top 10 Girls' and Boy's Names 2020

Top 10 Girls’ Names for April 2020:
1. Riko
2. Sakura/Sara
3. Sakura
4. Tsumugi
5. Mio
6. Yuzuki
7. Yuina/Yuna
8. Hinata/Himari
9. Haruna/Hina
10. Aoi

Top 10 Boys’ Names for April 2020:
1. Haruto/Hinato
2. Ren
3. Minato
4. Haruto/Hiroto
5. Itsuki/Tatsuki
6. Asahi
7. Aoi/So
8. Dan/Haru
9. Haruma/Yuma
10. Ao/Aoi
(Note: Many names have multiple possible readings, so only the top 1 or 2 are listed.)

Top 10 April 2020 Names

Top 10 April 2020 Names

Top 10 Readings for Girls’ Names for April 2020:
1. Sakura
2. Koharu
3. Mio
4. Yui
5. Mei
6. Tsumugi
7. Rio
8. Ema
9. Ichika
10. Sana
11. Honoka

Top 10 Readings for Boys’ Names for April 2020:
1. Haruto
2. Haruki
3. Sota
4. Minato
5. Yuto
6. Hinata
7. Riku
8. Yuito
9. Haru
10. Aoto
(Note: This chart indicates only the readings of names and not the characters used to write them.)

Hope in Dark Times

In some of the darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic, many parents opted to give their newborn children names with characters indicating brightness, flight, and other positive imagery. The top boy’s name, Haruto/Hinato, combines the character for sun with the character for flight. These characters are repeated throughout both lists, showing a preference for hopeful names.

Many women who gave birth during April were not able to have visitors in the hospital or to have family attend their deliveries. They gave birth alone, and what is normally a joyous time for a family was overshadowed by fear. It’s no wonder, then, that they chose bright and hopeful names for their babies to carry their hopes for a brighter world.

A Name for All Seasons

Those who have visited Japan in the spring will know about the sakura (cherry blossoms) which bloom in April and are a meaningful cultural symbol. The name Sakura and the character for writing it feature heavily in the names of babies born in April. Another common element in April baby names is the word haru, meaning spring.

In the above chart of name readings, we can see that the top name readings for both boys and girls commemorate the season in some way. Spring is a time of new beginnings in nature, and also culturally in Japan as it is the start of the school year. What a perfect name for a new spring baby.

New Era, New Name

New Era, New Name
Trends in Names Using the Character Rei as in Reiwa

Month | Total Number | Girls | Boys|
From January 2019 to April 2020 (*The Reiwa era was announced April 1, 2019, and the era began on May 1, 2019.)

When Emperor Akihito, the Heisei Emperor, retired, he was succeeded by his son Naruhito, whose era was named Reiwa. Beginning in April 2019, after the era name Reiwa was announced, there has been a significant increase in babies given names that include the character for Rei. Some examples of these are Reika, Erena, and Reisa for girls, and Rei or Reo for boys. The character wasn’t that common in baby names before the Reiwa era began, but we are sure to see more of it as the era goes on.

Baby name ranking is a fun way to look at trends in society and culture. What are some popular names in your country, and how have they changed over time?

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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