Japanese Name Meanings: Naming System and Examples

japanese name meaningsMost cultures have meanings assigned to its peoples names: British names, Persian names, Spanish, French, Korean… they all mean something. But what about Japanese names?

Whether you’re an expectant parent on the search for meaningful baby names, or just interested in Japanese name meanings, this guide will go over some popular Japanese names, their meaning, and their various spellings.

If you’re interested in learning to speak the language, check out this elementary Japanese language course.

Japanese Name Meanings and Spellings

The Japanese naming system is very unique, due to the nature of the language. Most given names are written in kanji, Chinese characters that have been adopted into the Japanese writing system. However, because most kanji names consist of one or two characters – each representing entire concepts, and each with various pronunciations – someone can’t really identify how the name would be pronounced just by looking it. The reverse is the same: if you hear a name, it’s hard to determine how that name would be written in kanji.

Some Japanese names can also be written in hiragana, a syllabic writing system where each letter represents a syllable. If you want to learn more about the Japanese writing system, check out this course on how to read and write hiragana, katakana, and kanji.

List of Japanese Names and Meanings

The following list will be split up into two categories based on the typical gender assignment of each name. Each entry will contain the romaji spelling of the name, the name’s meaning, the name’s kanji spelling, and the name’s hiragana spelling, if available.

Female Japanese Names

Ai

Meaning: love, affection
Kanji:
Hiragana: あい

Aiko

Meaning: love child
Kanji: 愛子
Hiragana: あいこ

Akemi

Meaning: beautiful, bright
Kanji: 明美
Hiragana: あけみ

Amaya

Meaning: night rain
Kanji: 雨夜
Hiragana: あまや

Aoi

Meaning: hollyhock (type of flower)
Kanji:
Hiragana: あおい

Ayaka

Meaning: colorful flower
Kanji: 彩花
Hiragana: あやか

Chiyo

Meaning: eternal, 1000 generations
Kanji: 千代
Hiragana: ちよ

Chiyoko

Meaning: child of 1000 generations
Kanji: 千代子
Hiragana: ちよこ

Emi

Meaning: love, affection
Kanji: 愛美
Hiragana: えみ

Haruka

Meaning: distant, far away
Kanji:
Hiragana: はるか

Hina

Meaning: chick
Kanji: 陽菜
Hiragana: ひな

Hitomi

Meaning: the eye
Kanji:
Hiragana: ひとみ

Hotaru

Meaning: firefly
Kanji:
Hiragana: ほたる

Kaori

Meaning: perfume, fragrance
Kanji:
Hiragana: かおり

Kasumi

Meaning: fog, mist
Kanji:
Hiragana: かすみ

Kazuko

Meaning: peace child
Kanji: 和子
Hiragana: かずこ

Kazumi

Meaning: beauty, harmony, peace
Kanji: 和美
Hiragana: かずみ

Keiko

Meaning: happy child
Kanji: 慶子
Hiragana: けいこ

Kumiko

Meaning: forever beautiful child
Kanji: 久美子
Hiragana: くみこ

Mai

Meaning: dance
Kanji:
Hiragana: まい

Mami

Meaning: real beauty
Kanji: 真美
Hiragana: まみ

Megumi

Meaning: kindness, blessing
Kanji:
Hiragana: めぐみ

Midori

Meaning: green
Kanji:
Hiragana: みどり

Misaki

Meaning: beautiful blossom
Kanji: 美咲
Hiragana: みさき

Miu

Meaning: beautiful feather
Kanji: 美羽
Hiragana: みう

Moe

Meaning: bud, sprout
Kanji:
Hiragana: もえ

Natsuki

Meaning: summer hope
Kanji: 夏希
Hiragana: なつき

Reika

Meaning: beautiful flower
Kanji: 麗華
Hiragana: れいか

Rin

Meaning: cold
Kanji:
Hiragana: りん

Sachiko

Meaning: child of happiness
Kanji: 幸子
Hiragana: さちこ

Sadako

Meaning: lucky child
Kanji: 禎子
Hiragana: さだこ

Sakura

Meaning: cherry blossom
Kanji:
Hiragana: さくら

Setsuko

Meaning: festival child
Kanji: 節子
Hiragana: せつこ

Shizuka

Meaning: calm, quiet
Kanji: 静香
Hiragana: しずか

Tomoko

Meaning: wise child
Kanji: 智子
Hiragana: ともこ

Umeko

Meaning: plum blossom child
Kanji: 梅子
Hiragana: うめこ

Yoko

Meaning: sun child
Kanji: 陽子
Hiragana: よこ

Yoshiko

Meaning: good child
Kanji: 良子
Hiragana: よしこ

Yukiko

Meaning: snow child
Kanji: 雪子
Hiragana: ゆきこ

Yumi

Meaning: beauty
Kanji: 由美
Hiragana: ゆみ

Male Japanese Names

Akio

Meaning: bright man
Kanji: 昭夫
Hiragana: あきお

Akira

Meaning: bright, clear
Kanji:
Hiragana: あきら

Daichi

Meaning: vast earth
Kanji: 大地
Hiragana: だいち

Daisuke

Meaning: big help
Kanji: 大輔
Hiragana: だいすけ

Hideki

Meaning: splendid opportunity
Kanji: 秀樹
Hiragana: (ひでき

Hiroki

Meaning: large tree
Kanji: 大樹
Hiragana: ひろき

Hiroshi

Meaning: generous
Kanji:
Hiragana: ひろし

Isamu

Meaning: bravery, courage
Kanji:
Hiragana: いさむ

Kan

Meaning: generous
Kanji:
Hiragana: かん

Katsumi

Meaning: self-control
Kanji: 克己
Hiragana: かつみ

Kazuki

Meaning: one tree
Kanji: 一樹
Hiragana: かずき

Kenta

Meaning: healthy and thick
Kanji: 健太
Hiragana: けんた

Kiyoshi

Meaning: pure
Kanji:
Hiragana: きよし

Kouhei

Meaning: calm, peace
Kanji: 康平
Hiragana: こうへい

Makoto

Meaning: truth, sincerity
Kanji:
Hiragana: まこと

Manabu

Meaning: studious
Kanji:
Hiragana: まなぶ

Masao

Meaning: just, righteous man
Kanji: 正男
Hiragana: まさお

Minoru

Meaning: fruit
Kanji:
Hiragana: みのる

Naoki

Meaning: straight tree
Kanji: 直樹
Hiragana: なおき

Nobu

Meaning: delay, prolong
Kanji:
Hiragana: のぶ

Ren

Meaning: lotus
Kanji:
Hiragana: れん

Riku

Meaning: land
Kanji:
Hiragana: りく

Ryo

Meaning: refreshing
Kanji:
Hiragana: りょう

Saburo

Meaning: third son
Kanji: 三郎
Hiragana: さぶろ

Satoshi

Meaning: wise, clear thinking
Kanji:
Hiragana: さとし

Shigeru

Meaning: flourishing
Kanji:
Hiragana: しげる

Shin

Meaning: reality, truth
Kanji:
Hiragana: しん

Shou

Meaning: fly
Kanji:
Hiragana: しょう

Sora

Meaning: blue sky
Kanji: 蒼空
Hiragana: そら

Susumu

Meaning: progress
Kanji:
Hiragana: すすむ

Tadashi

Meaning: just, righteous
Kanji:
Hiragana: ただし

Takashi

Meaning: filial piety
Kanji:
Hiragana: たかし

Takeo

Meaning: gentleman
Kanji: 丈夫
Hiragana: たけお

Takeru

Meaning: warrior
Kanji:
Hiragana: たける

Takumi

Meaning: carpenter
Kanji:
Hiragana: たくみ

Tsubasa

Meaning: wing
Kanji:
Hiragana: つばさ

Tsuyoshi

Meaning: strong
Kanji:
Hiragana: つよし

Yoshio

Meaning: just, righteous man
Kanji: 義雄
Hiragana: よしお

Yutaka

Meaning: rich, abundant
Kanji:
Hiragana: ゆたか

Yuudai

Meaning: splendor
Kanji: 雄大
Hiragana: ゆうだい

You can study more about the hiragana and katakana alphabets in this casual Japanese conversation learning course for beginners. Or, learn how to master Japanese conversation in this in-depth Japanese language course.

Do you have an upcoming travel arrangement that’s going to send you to Japan, and want to be conversational in time? Maybe you’re interested in learning the language, but you’re strapped for time? In any case, check out this accelerated Japanese course to quickly learn the language.

There’s also this Japanese reading course designed for the impatient learner, and a class called KanaBeats, an innovative, musical approach to learning hiragana and katakana.