Characters in Japanese Names

Japanese names are usually written in kanji (Chinese characters), although some names use hiragana or even katakana, or a mixture of kanji and kana. While most “traditional” names use kanji readings kun’yomi (native Japanese), a series of names and surnames use on’yomi reading kanji (Chinese). Many others use readings that are used only in names (nanori), such as the female name Nozomi (希). The majority of family names includes one, two or three kanji characters. There is also a small number of four or five names of kanji as Teshigawara (勅使 河 原), Kutaragi (久 多 良 木) and Kadenokōji (勘 解 由 小路), but these are extremely rare. (As the apostrophe in English), and corresponding to の character, it is often included in the names, but not written as a separate character, as is the common name 井上 (i-no-ue, good (possessive) -Top / above , top of the well), or historical figures such as Sen no Rikyu. The majority of personal names use one, two or three kanji. Four syllable names are common, especially among older son.

As mentioned above, female names often end with the syllable ko, written with the kanji meaning “child” (子), or me, written with the kanji meaning “beautiful” (美).
Using -k (子) has changed considerably over the years: before the Meiji Restoration (1868), was reserved for members of the imperial family. After restoration, it became popular and was common écrasantement in the Taisho and early Showa era of. The suffix -k or increased in popularity after the mid-20th century. Around 2006, on grounds of nationality of popular artists imitating habits name, the -k suffix is ​​declining in popularity. At the same time, the Western origin names, written in kana, has become increasingly popular for naming girls. In 2004, there was a tendency to use hiragana instead of the kanji in the name of the girls. Molly Hakes, author of the book Everything Conversational Japanese: basic instructions to talk about this fascinating language in any context, said this may have to do with the use of Hiragana of cultural pride, as well as the form of native Japanese hiragana script, or do not assign a meaning to the name of a girl so that others do not have a particular expectation of it.

The names ending in -k dropped significantly in popularity in the mid-1980s, but they are always given, although much less than in the past. sometimes male names end with the syllable ko, but very rarely by the kanji 子 (usually, if a noun ends in -ko ends in -hiko, using 彦 kanji meaning “boy”). The common male name endings are shi and -o; The names ending with -shi are often adjectives, eg, Atsushi which might mean, for example, “(be) faithful.” In the past (before World War II), the names written with katakana were common for women, but this trend seems to have lost favor. The Hiragana names for women are not unusual. The Kana names for boys, particularly those written in hiragana, have historically been very rare. This may be in part because the hiragana script is considered female; In medieval Japan, women are generally not taught kanji and wrote exclusively in hiragana.

Names can not begin with the syllable n (ん, ン); This is in common with other appropriate Japanese words, even if colloquial words begin with ん, as ん ま い (NMAI, う ま い variant umai, delicious). Some names end in n: the male names Ken, Shin and Jun are examples. The syllable n should not be confused with the consonant n, whose names can begin; For example, the female name Naoko (尚 子) or Naoya male (直 哉). (The consonant n must be combined with a vowel to form a syllable.)

A large family of category names can be classified as “-for” names. The kanji 藤, meaning wisteria, has the TO on’yomi (or, with rendaku, do). Many Japanese have nicknames that include this kanji as the second character. This is because the Fujiwara clan (藤原 家) gave their names Samurai (myoji) ends with the first character of their names to indicate their status at a time when ordinary people were not allowed surnames. Examples include ATO, Ando, ​​Ito (although a different final kanji is also common), Udo, ETO Endo, Goto, Jitō, Katou, Kito, Kudo, Kondo, Saito, Sato, Shindo, sudo, Naito, Bitonto and Mute. . As we have already mentioned, some of the most common surnames in this list. The Japanese usually names include characters that refer to places and geographic features.

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