If you’re looking for inspiration for your little bundle of joy, maybe this will give you some ideas.

Choosing a name for your baby in Japan isn’t easy. Not only do you have to think of the name itself, but also the kanji to accompany it. What once may have seemed like a beautiful name for your precious newborn may take on a very different meaning once you attach some kanji to it. That’s why it’s very important to choose names and kanji carefully, and not end up with something that could ruin a child’s life.

In a survey by Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance, the top ten names for both boys and girls for 2020 were revealed. The survey is conducted by the life insurance company annually, with data dating all the way back to 1912 and the results usually reflect events that have happened during the year. For example, the name Anna breaking the top ten baby names back in 2015 suggested that Japan was still gripped with Frozen fever.

With 2020 being… well, 2020, what kind of names will show up in the top ten this year? First, let’s take a look at the popular girls’ names.

Top Ten Girl Names in 2020

10. Yui 結衣
8. Tsumugi 紬
8. Mio 澪
7. Yuzuki 結月
6. Riko/Satoko 莉子
5. Yua 結愛
4. Yuna/Yuina 結奈

3. Uta 詩

Uta means “poetry”. It was the 20th most popular name last year, jumping up a whopping eighteen places.

2. Rin 凛

Rin, the most popular girls’ name last year, slips down a place to second. The name means “cool” or “dignified”.

1. Himari/Hinata/Hina 陽葵

Using kanji that mean “sun” and “hollyhock”, the top spot for girls this year goes to a name that can be read as Himari, Hinata or Hina. It is the first time this name has taken the top spot.

So what does this say about Japanese culture in the year 2020? Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted a trend with the names lower down the top ten list: a lot of the names featured the kanji 結 connection. Perhaps even in this pandemic, when it feels like we are all apart, it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together.

How about the boys? What will the popular boy names say about Japan in 2020?

Top Ten Boy Names in 2020

10. Hiroto/Masato/Haruto 大翔
9. Yamato 大和
8. Shin/Arata/Hajime 新
7. Minato 湊
6. Asahi 朝陽
5. Ritsu/Richi/Ato 律
4. Hinata 陽翔

3. Ren 蓮

2019’s most popular boys name, Ren (meaning “lotus”) drops down to third place.

2. Itsuki/Tatsuki 樹

Using the kanji meaning “tree”, Itsuki/Tatsuki jumps up from last year’s 7th place.

1. Aoi/Sou 蒼

Using a kanji meaning “blue”, this year’s top spot goes to Aoi/Sou, jumping up from 4th place last year.

While there doesn’t seem anything to take from the popular boys names, as most of them were in the top ten last year as well, the conductors of the survey commented on the fact that both the top girl and boy name (Hinata and Aoi) are unisex names, suggesting that perhaps Japan is starting to steer away from the more traditional gendered names they’ve preferred in the past.

Japanese commenters had plenty to say about how difficult the kanji were to figure out the reading of, even for native speakers.

“Ahhh… more kirakira names this year too…”
“I guess the name ‘Sho’ just isn’t popular anymore, huh.”
“No names like Tanjiro or Nezuko? Or are they just names for the older generation?”
“Are they trying to make the names hard to read on purpose to annoy people?”

If you’re looking for a name for your newborn, maybe this list will inspire you. Or if babies aren’t on your to-do list, check out the ranking for your furry friends names instead!

Source: Meiji Yasuda Name Rankings, via NHKOtakomu
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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