No baby fever here! I wrote this when I was doing research for a post about the cost of childbirth in Japan. I got to thinking about a list of Japanese/English baby names for boys and girls.
This is by no means a definitive list. I just wanted to share some ideas based on the names of students I’ve taught over the years and the intense name search for little Kaiju in the months leading up to her birth.
A work in progress that will be update periodically, this list of Japanese/English baby names for boys and girls i a mix of “western” names as well as Japanese names that I think would work well abroad and in Japan.
2020.11.12 Update: A “sequel” to this post, The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2020, is now live!
2020.7.21 Update: Revised the source link to name kanji (jinmei you kanji | 人名用漢字)
2020.6.10 Update: giving your child multiple names in Japan; applying for multiple passports; and what to do about middle names in Japan.
Points to keep in mind:
This list does not include any kanji suggestions as the meaning of a name can change greatly based on kanji used.
Even if you take the phonetic approach and choose kanji based on its sound, you might open up a can of worms.
For example, “Diana” could be phonetically expressed as 大穴, but why would you want to name your child “Big Hole”?
But, most importantly, stroke count/balance between the given name and family name is important.
You might not care, but perhaps your in-laws or partner does (mine did)! If you’re unsure, just ask them. If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with Reiwa!
In my case, once I chose a name for my daughter, I asked my in-laws to choose the kanji.
By the way, all name kanji MUST be on the list of approved kanji, known as jinmei you kanji (人名用漢字 | Source). To be honest, it’s not much to worry about. As long as you don’t plan to use characters like 妾 (mekake | concubine) or 呪(noroi | curse) in your child’s name, you’ll be fine.
How To Register Multiple Names For Your Child
If your child is a dual citizen or has multiple nationalities, you can give your child multiple names by applying for separate passports.
(Be aware that Japan’s Nationality Law states that any person born with multiple nationalities must choose by their 22nd birthday. Right now, the approach is, “Don’t show and don’t tell,” but ultimately it’s your child’s decision.)
Even if your child has multiple legal names, they will only have ONE official name in the family register (戸籍) and residence record (住民票 | juminhyo) in Japan. Be sure to register your child’s birth and name within 14 days of giving birth!
So, choose your baby name(s), register at city hall after giving birth, and when you’re up to it, apply for passports later.
If you are particular about a certain spelling and want that spelling reflected on your child’s Japanese passport, (e.g. “Hannah” instead of “Hana”), apply for the non-Japanese passport first.
You’ll need that passport as “official proof” of an alternate spelling (just in case). Otherwise, you’ll have no choice but to romanize your child’s name according to the Hepburn chart in the application form for a Japanese passport.
It’s worth mentioning that you can add a “second” name to your child’s Japanese passport. The alternate name will be listed in parentheses.
By adding an additional name to your child’s Japanese passport, their travel documents and tickets will always match. This is especially important when your child is traveling with 2 passports.
For example a Japan/US dual citizen going to the US must enter the US with their US passport. But, they must clear immigration in Japan with a Japanese passport. So, the flight ticket must match the name on their US passport AND Japanese passport.
Middle Names in Japan — Yay or Nay?
In my very, very humble opinion…
If you will be raising a child in Japan, even if only for a short period of time, please reconsider giving your child a middle name on Japanese documents.
Firstly, the concept of middle names doesn’t exist.
If your child’s name is Sarah Rose Tanaka, in Japan, she will be Tanaka Sararose (田中 さらローズ) with no space or hyphen allowed.
If you insist on giving your child a middle name, consider giving them a middle name on the non-Japanese passport.
In my experience, adulting in Japan was hard with a middle name and a long last name. Just a mess of katakana that wouldn’t fit in the online or in print. Plus, having to spell out all of that over the phone? Whew chilay….
Now, my legal name fits nicely on bank cards, credit cards, utility bills, and online forms.
Japanese/English Baby Names For Boys and Girls
Adam (あだむ | adamu)
Aiden (えいでん | eiden)
Akira (あきら | akira)
Byron (ばいろん | bairon)
Cameron (かめろん | kameron)
Eito (えいと | eito)
Eiji (えいじ | eiji)
Hiro (ひろ | hiro)
Hugh (ひゅう | hyuu or ひゅうが) | hyuuga
Isaiah (いざや | izaya)
John (じおん | jion)
Kei (けい | kei)
Ken (けん | ken)
Kent (けんと | kento)
Kevin (けびん | kebin)
Leo (りお or れお | rio or reo)
Leon (りおん or れおん | rion or reon)
Louis/Luis/Rui (るい or るいす | rui or ruisu)
Mark (まるこ | mark)
Matthew (またい | matai)
Micheal (まいける | maikeru)
Mike (まいく | maiku)
Noah (のあ | noa)
Thomas/Tomas (とます | tomasu)
Tom (とむ | tomu)
Tony (とに | toni)
Ray (れい | rei)
Ron (ろん | ron)
Rick (りく | riku)
Yu (ゆう | yuu)
Ai ( あい | ai)
Ailee (Airi | あいり)
Ali (あり | ari) )
Amy (えいみ | Ami or Eimi)
Ann (あん | An)
Ana/Anna (あな | Ana)
Akari (あかり | akari)
Akira (あきら | akira)
Cara (から | kara)
Elisa (えりさ | erisa)
Ella (えら | era)
Emily (えみり | emiri)
Emma (えま | ema)
Erika/Erica (えりか | erika)
Erin (えりん | erin)
Hannah/Hana (はな | hana)
Irene (あいりん | airin)
Julia (じゅりあ | juria)
Julie (じゅり | juri)
June (じゅん | jun)
Karen (かりん or かれん | karin or karen)
Kiera (きえら | kiera)
Kimberly (きんばりい | kinbarii)
Kimmy (きみ | kimi)
Kylie (かいり | kairi)
Leah (りあ |ria)
Lena (れな | rena)
Leona (りおな | riona)
Lily (りり | riri)
Lynn (りん | rin)
Mary (めあり | meari)
Maria (まりあ | maria)
Maya (まや | maya)
Mia (みあ | mia)
Milla (みら | mira)
Mona (もな | mona)
Monica (もにか | monica)
Naomi (なおみ | naomi)
Nina (にな | nina)
Olivia (おりびあ | oribia)
Rita (りた | rita)
Rhea (りあ | ria)
Ruby (るび | rubi)
Rose (ろーず | ro-zu)
Sara/Sarah/Sarah (さら | sara)
Samantha (さまんさ | samansa)
Serena (せれな or せりな | serena or serina)
Sophia (そひあ or そふぃあ | sohia or sofia)
Tammy (たみ | tami)
Tara (たら | tara)
Tiffany (てぃふぁに | tifani)
Zoe (ぞい | zoi)
More Naming Inspiration
One book you shouldn’t overlook when writing your list of potential baby names is the Bible (or Qur’an or Torah)! If you come across a name you and your partner like, you can easily look up the Japanese translation with a simple web search. This Japanese website has a list of 50 girl names and 50 boy names from the Bible.
Otoko no ko no Shiawase Namae Jiten (“The Happy Name Book For Baby Boys”) on Amazon Japan
Onna no ko no Shiawase Namae Jiten (“The Happy Name Book For Baby Girls”) on Amazon Japan.