Motherhood & Parenting in Japan

The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2020

Last Updated on 2024-01-14 by Teni

In recent weeks, my Japanese-English baby names post has seen an uptick in visitors (thank you all!). Actually, it’s on its way to becoming one of my top non-beauty related posts. For all of you expecting, congratulations! I hope this post becomes a source of inspiration for you as you and your partner/family narrow down possible baby names.  

Please note that this list of The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2020 is not my own creation. It’s basically a summary of a Yahoo! News article talking about the sudden popularity of the name Nagi. 

(It initially had a very clickbait-y title attributing the name to “Demon Slayer fever” that’s currently taking Japan by storm. Demon Slayer keeps popping up in my Netflix recommendations, but I’ve yet to watch a single episode. I was simply curious as to why the anime is so good that people are naming their children after its characters. Moving on..)

The article itself is sourced from Tamahiyo Online, a publisher of maternity and baby media (like mommy-to-be and mommy magazines).  Baby name data is tabulated from the names of 197,940 babies born between January to September 2020.

See also: The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2021

Top 10 Japanese Baby Boy Names for 2020

The most popular kanji found in boys’ names is 翔 (sho). 2020 marks the first year it takes the top spot since the inaugural baby name survey in 2008.  翔  is followed by  大 (dai) and 太 (tai), both of which are traditionally used for boys as they indicate “big” and “grand,” respectively. 

Another interesting point is that 4 names on this list have an ending sound of “to”, even if they didn’t use the character 斗, again, another traditionally masculine kanji.

1. Ren (蓮 |れん)

2. Haruto ( 陽翔  | はると)

3. Aoi (蒼 |あおい)

4. Itsuki (樹 | いつき) 

5. Minato (湊 | みなと)

6. Yuuma (悠真 | ゆうま)

7. Hiroto (大翔 | ひろと)

8. Ritsu (律 | りつ)

9. Asahi (朝陽 | あさひ)

10. Yuito (結翔 | ゆいと)

Top 10 Japanese Baby Girl Names for 2020

The kanij for flower, “hana,”  (花) is the most commonly used kanji in girls’ names for the 3rd year in a row. Interestingly enough, however, there are NO names in the top 10 list that have 花 in it! Still, “flowery” characters like 菜, 莉, 咲, continue to be popular in girls’ names. 

1. Himari (陽葵 | ひまり)

2. Yuina (結菜 | ゆいな)

3. Riko (莉子 | りこ)

4. Mei (芽依 | めい)

5. Tsumugi (紬 | つむぎ)

6. Aoi (葵| あおい)

7. Hina (陽菜 | ひな)

8. Rin (凛 | りん)

9. Yuzuki (結月 | ゆづき)

10. Mio  (澪 | みお)

Japanese Baby Name Trends For 2020: Is “Genderless” (ジェンダーレス) The Way To Go?

You’ve probably noticed that “Aoi” (葵| あおい) ranked in the top 10 names for baby boys and girls. 

The kanji 葵 refers to a family of flowers. As a name, “Aoi” has the meaning of “fruitfulness” or “ambition.”


“Aoi” as a name is cute, but the flower itself can be seen as a bad omen if you don’t choose the right one. Apparently, the cistus flower (午時葵 | go ji aoi) means “I shall die tomorrow”  (明日死ぬだろう | asu shinu darou). Just keep that in mind when sending flowers to someone!

Another “genderless” name that rose in popularity this year is “Nagi” (凪 | なぎ). It means “calm” and has the kanji for “stop” (止) housed under the radical for “wind” (風). Aside from “Demon Slayer,” there have been other TV shows in the past year with characters named Nagi, which could be a reason why the name is popular this year. 

Last year, “rei” (令) was a popular “genderless” choice given that 2019 marked the start of the new Reiwa (令和) imperial calendar.

I don’t think these “genderless” names mean that Japan is on its way to gender equality. Due to precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, hospitals and birthing clinics limited visitors. So, perhaps these names could represent parents waiting until the day of birth to find out the sex of their child together.

Overall, I think that parents are looking for peaceful names because of all the craziness that’s happening with the pandemic. It’s a sweet way to celebrate the miracle of life in the chaos of 2020.

For more naming inspiration, please check out Tamahiyo’s Happy Name Book For Babies 2024-2025 Edition:

(Title in Japanese: たまひよ赤ちゃんのしあわせ名前事典2024~2025年版 // Tamahiyo Akachan no Shiawase Namae Jiten 2024-2025)

How do you feel about these popular Japanese baby names? Do you feel ~inspired~ by any of them? For more on having a baby in Japan (congratulations!), be sure to check out these posts:

Pregnant In Japan? Here’s All You Need To Know

Inu no Hi – A Shrine Visit for Pregnant Women

The Cost of Giving Birth in Japan and How to Pay For It

Japanese/English Baby Names For Boys and Girls

The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2022

The Best Japanese Baby Names of 2021

Anime Inspired Baby Names

Birth In Japan: Hospital Stay

Birth in Japan: Natural or Epidural?

An Inside Look At Daycare in Japan



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